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For the ship formerly named Pepita, see Maria Asumpta. For engraving technique, see Pepita glass engraving.
Pumpkin seeds just scooped from the fruit
Pumpkin seeds after shelling, roasting, and salting

Pepita (from Mexican Spanish: pepita de calabaza, "little seed of squash") is a Spanish culinary term for the pumpkin seed, the edible seed of a pumpkin or other cultivar of squash (genus Cucurbita). The seeds are typically rather flat and asymmetrically oval, and light green in color and may have a white outer hull. Some cultivars are hulless, and are grown only for their seed.[1] The word can refer either to the hulled kernel or unhulled whole seed, and most commonly refers to the roasted end product.


Pumpkin seeds rival sunflower seeds as the most popular snack in Russia and Ukraine. They are sold in Russian drugstores as a remedy for quelling parasitic infestations such as tapeworms.[2]

Pepitas are a popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine and are also roasted and served as a snack.[3] Marinated and roasted, they are an autumn seasonal snack in the United States, as well as a commercially produced and distributed packaged snack, like sunflower seeds, available year-round. Pepitas are known by their Spanish name (usually shortened), and typically salted and sometimes spiced after roasting (and today also available as a packaged product), in Mexico and other Latin American countries, in the American Southwest, and in speciality and Mexican food stores.

The earliest known evidence of the domestication of Cucurbita dates back 8,000-10,000 years ago, predating the domestication of other crops such as maize and common beans in the region by about 4,000 years. Changes in fruit shape and color indicate intentional breeding of C. pepo occurred by no later than 8,000 years ago.[4][5] The process to develop the agricultural knowledge of crop domestication took place over 5,000-6,500 years in Mesoamerica. Squash was domesticated first, with maize second and then beans being domesticated, becoming part of the Three Sisters agricultural system.[6][7]

As an ingredient in mole dishes, they are known in Spanish as pipián. A Mexican snack using pepitas in an artisan fashion is referred to as pepitoría. Lightly roasted, salted, unhulled pumpkin seeds are popular in Greece with the descriptive Italian name, passatempo ("pastime").

The pressed oil of the roasted seeds of a Cucurbita pepo subsp. pepo var. 'styriaca' is also used in Central and Eastern Europe as cuisine, such as Pumpkin seed oil.[8][9]


Pepitas kernels, roasted, with salt added
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 2,401 kJ (574 kcal)
14.71 g
Sugars 1.29 g
Dietary fiber 6.5 g
49.05 g
Saturated 8.544 g
Monounsaturated 15.734
Polyunsaturated 19.856
29.84 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.07 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.15 mg
Niacin (B3)
4.43 mg
0.57 mg
Vitamin B6
0.1 mg
Folate (B9)
57 μg
Vitamin C
6.5 mg
Vitamin E
0.56 mg
Vitamin K
4.5 μg
Trace metals
52 mg
8.07 mg
550 mg
4.49 mg
1174 mg
788 mg
256 mg
7.64 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

The seeds are also good sources of protein, as well as iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium,[10] phosphorus, copper,[11] and potassium. 25 grams of pepitas can provide over 20 percent of the recommended daily iron intake.[12] Furthermore, just one-fourth cup of pepitas provides approximately 185 mg of magnesium, nearly 50% of the Recommended Daily Intake.[10]

In 2007, Stevenson, et al., of the USDA's New Crops Products Research Unit searched the primary literature for information about the lipid content of pepitas, and then grew and analyzed pepitas from seven cultivars of C. maxima.[13] They found the following ranges of fatty acid content in C. maxima pepitas (see pumpkin seed oil):

n:unsat Fatty acid name Percentage range
(14:0) Myristic acid 0.003-0.056
(16:0) Palmitic acid 1.6-8.0
(16:1) Palmitoleic acid 0.02-0.10
(18:0) Stearic acid 0.81-3.21
(18:1) Oleic acid 3.4-19.4
(18:2) Linoleic acid 5.1-20.4
(18:3) Linolenic acid 0.06-0.22
(20:0) Arachidic acid 0.06-0.21
(20:1) Gadoleic acid 0-0.035
(22:0) Behenic acid 0.02-0.12

The reported concentration of myristate and palmitate (the cholestrogenic fatty acids) for the pepitas ranged from 1.6% to 4.9%. The total unsaturated fatty acid concentration ranged from 9% to 21% of the pepita. The total fat content ranged from 11% to 52%. Based on the quantity of alpha-tocopherol extracted in the oil, the vitamin E content of the twelve C. maxima cultivar seeds ranged from 4 to 19 mg/100 g of pepita.

Nutraceutical uses[edit]

The seeds (and seed oil, see below) of pumpkins, such as Cucurbita pepo varieties have been subject to a great deal of research, especially into the treatment of prostate ailments.[14][15]

Whole seeds or kernels[edit]

According to the USDA,[16] one gram of pepita protein contains 17.2 mg[17] of L-tryptophan and when roasted contains 5.69 mg L-tryptophan. This high tryptophan content makes pepita of interest to researchers studying the treatment of anxiety disorders.[18] Some eat the seeds as preventative measure against onset of anxiety attacks, clinical depression and other mood disorders.

Some studies[which?] have also found pumpkin seeds to prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and to regulate cholesterol levels in the body.

A 2011 Egyptian study found that in rats, pumpkin seed oil has anti-hypertensive and cardio-protective properties.[19]

A 2009 double-blind, placebo-controlled Korean study found that in men suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia (n=47), pumpkin seed oil is an effective treatment.[20]


Main article: Pumpkin seed oil

The oil of pumpkin seeds, a culinary speciality in (and important export commodity of) Central European cuisine as a salad oil and a cooking oil, is also used to treat irritable bowel syndrome and various other ailments, both in folk medicine and in modern medical practice and research.[medical citation needed]

Long an Eastern European folk remedy for the prostate problems of men, the oil has in fact been shown to improve symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate due to benign prostatic hyperplasia.[11][21][22] Components in pumpkin seed oil appear to interrupt the triggering of prostate cell multiplication by testosterone and DHT.[citation needed] However, it is questionable whether eating the seeds whole in snack quantities, rather than taking therapeutic doses of the concentrated oil, would provide any prostate benefit.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Song, Y.; Li, J.; Hu, X.; Ni, Y.; Li, Q. (2011). "Structural characterization of a polysaccharide isolated from Lady Godiva pumpkins (Cucurbita pepo lady godiva)". Macromolecular Research 19 (11): 1172–1178. doi:10.1007/s13233-011-1102-7. 
  2. ^ "Лекарственные средства. Полный словарь-справочник 2010". 
  3. ^ "Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)". Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Smith, Bruce D. (May 1997). "The Initial Domestication of Cucurbita pepo in the Americas 10,000 Years Ago". Science (Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science). doi:10.1126/science.276.5314.932. 
  5. ^ "Cucurbitaceae--Fruits for Peons, Pilgrims, and Pharaohs". University of California at Los Angeles. Retrieved September 2, 2013. 
  6. ^ Landon, Amanda J. (2008). "The "How" of the Three Sisters: The Origins of Agriculture in Mesoamerica and the Human Niche". Nebraska Anthropologist (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska-Lincoln): 110–124. 
  7. ^ Bushnell, G. H. S. (1976). "The Beginning and Growth of Agriculture in Mexico". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (London: Royal Society of London) 275 (936): 117–120. doi:10.1098/rstb.1976.0074. 
  8. ^ Fürnkranz, Michael; Lukesch, Birgit; Müller, Henry; Huss, Herbert; Grube, Martin; Berg, Gabriele (2012). "Microbial Diversity Inside Pumpkins: Microhabitat-Specific Communities Display a High Antagonistic Potential Against Phytopathogens". Microbial Ecology (Springer) 63 (2): 418–428. doi:10.2307/41412429. JSTOR 41412429.  edit
  9. ^ Košťálová, Zuzana; Hromádková, Zdenka; Ebringerová, Anna (August 2009). "Chemical Evaluation of Seeded Fruit Biomass of Oil Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L. var. Styriaca)". Chemical Papers (Springer Versita for Institute of Chemistry) 63 (4): 406–413. doi:10.2478/s11696-009-0035-5. 
  10. ^ a b Goodpaster-Beaty, Vanessa (28 January 2013). "Top 20 Foods High in Magnesium that Provide Natural Energy". Womenio Magazine. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c "Pumpkin Seeds". World's Healthiest Foods. Retrieved September 17, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Nutrition Facts, "Seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted, without salt (pepitas)"". Retrieved 2012-10-23. 
  13. ^ Stevenson, David G.; Eller, Fred J.; Wang, Liping; Jane, Jay-Lin; Wang, Tong; Inglett, George E. (2007). "Oil and Tocopherol Content and Composition of Pumpkin Seed Oil in 12 Cultivars". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 55 (10): 4005–13. doi:10.1021/jf0706979. PMID 17439238.  The data are found in Tables 1-3 on pp. 4006-4010 of this USDA reference.
  14. ^ Sicilia, Tina; Heike B. Niemeyer; Doris M. Honig; Manfred Metzler (28 January 2003). "Identification and Stereochemical Characterization of Lignans in Flaxseed and Pumpkin Seeds". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (Institute of Food Chemistry and Toxicology, Department of Chemistry, University of Karlsruhe) 51 (5): 1181–1188. doi:10.1021/jf0207979. 
  15. ^ Tsai, Y. S.; Tong, Y. C.; Cheng, J. T.; Lee, C. H.; Yang, F. S.; Lee, H. Y. (2006). "Pumpkin seed oil and phytosterol-F can block testosterone/prazosin-induced prostate growth in rats". Urologia Internationalis (Basel: Karger) 77 (3): 269–274. doi:10.1159/000094821. PMID 17033217. 
  16. ^ "Search the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference". National Agricultural Laboratory, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-05-25. 
  17. ^ This figure was obtained by dividing the quantity of L-Tryptophan published by the USDA in this reference in dried pumpkin seed by the total of the quantities of all the amino acids, and then multiplying by 1000 mg/g.
  18. ^ Hudson, C; Hudson, S; MacKenzie, J (2007). "Protein-source tryptophan as an efficacious treatment for social anxiety disorder: A pilot study". Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 85 (9): 928–32. doi:10.1139/Y07-082. PMID 18066139. 
  19. ^ El-Mosallamy, AE; Sleem, AA; Abdel-Salam, OM; Shaffie, N; Kenawy, SA (2011). "Antihypertensive and Cardioprotective Effects of Pumpkin Seed Oil". Journal of medicinal food 15 (2): 111114095452002. doi:10.1089/jmf.2010.0299. PMID 22082068. 
  20. ^ Hong, H.; Kim, C. S.; Maeng, S. (2009). "Effects of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil in Korean men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia". Nutrition Research and Practice 3 (4): 323–327. doi:10.4162/nrp.2009.3.4.323. PMC 2809240. PMID 20098586. 
  21. ^ Ejike, C. E.; Ezeanyika, L. U. (2011). "Inhibition of the Experimental Induction of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Possible Role for Fluted Pumpkin (Telfairia occidentalis Hook f.) Seeds.". Urologia Internationalis 87 (2): 218–224. doi:10.1159/000327018. ISSN 1423-0399. PMID 21709398. 
  22. ^ Gossell-Williams, M.; Davis, A.; O'Connor, N. (2006). "Inhibition of Testosterone-induced Hyperplasia of the Prostate of Sprague-Dawley Rats by Pumpkin Seed Oil". Journal of Medicinal Food 9 (2): 284–286. doi:10.1089/jmf.2006.9.284. ISSN 1096-620X. PMID 16822218.