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 inside a white hull. The word can refer either to the hulled kernel or unhulled whole seed, and most commonly refers to the roasted end product.
Pepitas are a popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine and are also roasted and served as a snack. Marinated and roasted, they are an autumn seasonal favorite in the rural 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. In the Americas, they have been eaten since at least the time of the Aztecs and probably much earlier, since squash was one of the three earliest plant domesticates in the Western Hemisphere, along with maize (corn) and common beans (collectively the Native American agricultural "Three Sisters", originating in Mexico).
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").
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||2,401 kJ (574 kcal)|
|- Sugars||1.29 g|
|- Dietary fiber||6.5 g|
|- saturated||8.544 g|
|Thiamine (vit. B1)||0.07 mg (6%)|
|Riboflavin (vit. B2)||0.15 mg (13%)|
|Niacin (vit. B3)||4.43 mg (30%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.57 mg (11%)|
|Vitamin B6||0.1 mg (8%)|
|Folate (vit. B9)||57 μg (14%)|
|Vitamin C||6.5 mg (8%)|
|Vitamin E||0.56 mg (4%)|
|Vitamin K||4.5 μg (4%)|
|Calcium||52 mg (5%)|
|Iron||8.07 mg (62%)|
|Magnesium||550 mg (155%)|
|Manganese||4.49 mg (214%)|
|Phosphorus||1174 mg (168%)|
|Potassium||788 mg (17%)|
|Sodium||256 mg (17%)|
|Zinc||7.64 mg (80%)|
|Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are relative to
US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
The seeds are also good sources of protein, as well as iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and potassium. 25 grams of pepitas can provide over 20 percent of the recommended daily iron intake. Furthermore, just one-fourth cup of pepitas provides approximately 185 mg of magnesium, nearly 50% of the Recommended Daily Intake.
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. They found the following ranges of fatty acid content in C. maxima pepitas (see pumpkin seed oil):
|n:unsat||Fatty acid name||Percentage range|
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 
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2011)|
Whole seeds or kernels 
According to the USDA, one gram of roasted pepita contain 5.69 mg L-tryptophan and one gram of pepita protein contains 17.2 mg of L-tryptophan. One cup of milk contains 183 mg. This high tryptophan content makes pepita of interest to researchers studying the treatment of anxiety disorders. Some eat the seeds as preventative measure against onset of anxiety attacks, clinical depression and other mood disorders.
A 2011 Egyptian study found that in rats, pumpkin seed oil has anti-hypertensive and cardio-protective properties.
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.
The 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.[medical citation needed] Components in pumpkin seed oil appear to interrupt the triggering of prostate cell multiplication by testosterone and DHT. 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.
See also 
- "Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)". GourmetSleuth.com. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- Goodpaster-Beaty, Vanessa (28 January 2013). "Top 20 Foods High in Magnesium that Provide Natural Energy". Womenio Magazine. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
- "Pumpkin seeds". The World's Healthiest Foods. Retrieved 11 February 2013.[unreliable source?]
- "Nutrition Facts, "Seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, roasted, without salt (pepitas)"". nutritiondata.self.com. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
- 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. http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/bitstream/10113/19116/1/IND43913544.pdf
- Sicilia, Tina; Heike B. Niemeyer, Doris M. Honig, and Manfred Metzler (28 January 2003). "Identification and Stereochemical Characterization of Lignans in Flaxseed and Pumpkin Seeds". J. Agric. Food Chem. (Institute of Food Chemistry and Toxicology, Department of Chemistry, University of Karlsruhe) 51 (5): 1181–1188.
- "Search the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference". Nal.usda.gov. Retrieved 2011-05-25.
- This second number was obtained by dividing the quantity of L-Tryptophan published by the USDA <http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/> in dried pumpkin seed by the total of the quantities of all the amino acids, and then multiplying by 1000 mg/g.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hong, H; Kim, CS; 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): 323–7. doi:10.4162/nrp.2009.3.4.323. PMC 2809240. PMID 20098586.