Fermenting Raw Nuts & Seeds + Their Proven Health Benefits (Pumpkin Seeds)

March 17, 2021

In this post, we investigate the potential health benefits and properties of pumpkin seeds. 

While there is not a lot of research on this specific topic, the following studies were selected to discuss the benefits of pumpkin seeds within the scope of available resources. The titles, links, and abstracts of each study reviewed are provided below along with interpretation/discussion in more layman’s terms.

Pumpkin: In Vitro Studies for Hyperglycemia and Hypertension Management


“In this study antidiabetic- and antihypertensive-relevant potentials of phenolic phytochemicals were confirmed in select important traditional plant foods of indigenous communities such as pumpkin, beans, and maize using in vitro enzyme assays for -glucosidase, α-amylase, and angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitory activities. In vitro inhibitory activities of these enzymes provide a strong biochemical rationale for further in vivo studies and dietary management strategy for NIDDM through the control of glucose absorption and reduction of associated hypertension. These enzyme inhibitory activities were further compared to total soluble phenolic content and antioxidant activity of the above-targeted plant foods. Pumpkin showed the best overall potential. Among the varieties of pumpkin extracts P5 (round orange) and P6 (spotted orange green) had high content of total phenolics and moderate antioxidant activity coupled to moderate to high α-glucosidase and ACE inhibitory activities. Therefore this phenolic antioxidant-enriched dietary strategy using specific traditional plant food combinations can generate a whole food profile that has the potential to reduce hyperglycemia-induced pathogenesis and also associated complications linked to cellular oxidation stress and hypertension.”


In vitro studies are an important first step in experimental analysis, however they are limited in their conclusions. 

An in vitro study is essentially carried out in test tubes, as the name suggests (vitro = glass). This allows us to study the characteristics of a compound using assays, or tests that look for a specific protein/function. 

As I mentioned, these studies are limited in their ability to extrapolate effects because living organisms do not present the same set of controlled environments that in vitro studies are performed in. An experimental study carried out in a living organism is called in vivo, and is the next step in the progression of research focused on finding out how a substance affects humans. With that being said, there is a lack of in vivo studies on pumpkin seed biochemical activity so this is about as good as it gets for now.

The study linked here is an important place to start because it shows that at this level, pumpkin seeds demonstrate several disease-mitigating characteristics. The study focuses on a class of chemicals found inside the seed called phenolic phytochemicals. 

Phytochemicals are molecular compounds found within plants that provide colour, smell, taste, and often also serve as chemical defences of the plant against fungi, bacteria, viruses, and animals attempting to consume them. There are different classes of phytochemicals and many of the known classes have been able to demonstrate a wide range of health benefits.

A Harvard Health post in 2019 listed the following phytochemical classes:

Carotenoids in red, orange, yellow, and green plants (cooked tomatoes, carrots, squash, and broccoli) may inhibit cancer growth and cardiovascular disease and boost immunity.

Flavonoids in berries, apples, citrus, onions, soybeans, and coffee may fight inflammation and tumour growth.

Anthocyanins in berries and red wine are associated with lower blood pressure.

Resveratrol in red wine, grapes, dark chocolate, and peanuts is associated with longevity in some animals.

Proanthocyanidins & Flavanols in grapes, apples, cocoa, and red wine are linked to better function of the lining of the arteries and reduced blood pressure.

Sulfides & Thiols in onions, garlic, leeks, olives and scallions may help decrease "bad" LDL cholesterol.

Isothiocyanates (sulforaphane) in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale may help protect us against cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Quercetin in apples, onions and citrus fruits may help decrease inflammation and blood pressure.

Terpenes in cherries and citrus fruits may help slow cancer cell growth and fight viruses.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin in dark, leafy greens are linked to eye health.

(not all foods mentioned are safe to feed to dogs)

The common theme here is that phytochemicals “may help” with regards to the listed health benefits. This is due to the lack of concrete evidence to confirm these effects. 

Pumpkin seeds are no exception here, showing that the phytochemicals they contain may help against the disease processes of diabetes and high blood pressure in particular.

Pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.) seeds as nutraceutic: a review on status quo and scopes


The seeds of pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.) are generally considered to be agro-industrial wastes and discarded. In some parts of the world, the seeds are consumed raw, roasted or cooked, but only at the domestic scale. With the discovery of their richness in protein, fibres, minerals, polyunsaturated fatty acids and phytosterols, they are being regarded as valuable for the food industry. The attention of food technologists has resulted in their foray into the commercial food sector. Food companies are experimenting with their incorporation into a slew of savouries and consumers are showing interest in them. Also, their beneficial effects on blood glucose level, immunity, cholesterol, liver, prostate gland, bladder, depression, learning disabilities and parasite inhibition are being validated. The conversion of these agro-wastes into value-added ingredients is likely to be a big step towards the global sustainability efforts; thus, it deserves
more investigation. This review furnishes an updated account of this emerging nutraceutical.


This article/study essentially serves as a comprehensive literature review on the topic as it focuses on different in vivo studies that investigated several health benefits of pumpkin seeds and products containing pumpkin seed components as of 2013. 

The majority of these studies were carried out in rats, however, one of the cancer-treatment studies was carried out on human subjects. There’s an interesting range of positive effects on high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and parasites from the studies cited here.

Though it is worth noting, a common issue with studies testing the effects of phytochemicals is the effects occur in a dose-dependent nature, which makes it much easier to attain statistically significant results in small organisms like mice, while it is much more challenging to do so in humans. 

I recommend reading through the full PDF available for this study as it cites 13 different studies (19 through 31) in its discussion of the varied health benefits that would be redundant to cite in this post. 

On top of the therapeutic characteristics of pumpkin seeds, the article offers a table on the biochemically significant components of pumpkin seeds from the USDA database (oft referenced in all my raw feeding posts).

For reference, RDA stands for Recommended Dietary Allowance

Pumpkin seeds carry a wide range of vitamins and minerals that make it a  great dietary supplement in its own right. The phytonutrients/phytochemicals contained in pumpkin seeds are specifically isolated in this table as well, which can be correlated with the aforementioned Harvard Health article.


The bottom line is, there is certainly promising evidence of several health benefits that stem from consuming pumpkin seeds. 

And while there is no definitive way to say pumpkin seeds will have anti-diabetic, antihypertensive, deworming, or any other aforementioned effect, it is indeed a safe & nutritious food supplement

There seems to be no risk in feeding pumpkin seeds while many potential benefits remain under investigation. However, relying on pumpkin seeds alone to have any of these desired effects is unadvised. Doing so would introduce the risk of letting a condition go untreated while there are thoroughly tested and proven medications readily available. For now, pumpkin seeds should be used as a food supplement for general health and wellness rather than a specific treatment for a condition or disease. 

Please consult physicians/veterinarians, and/or other trustworthy science-based sources for advice on human and animal dietary questions.

If your pet has tested positive for worms or is showing signs that they may worms, please consult a vet immediately! 

When it comes to feeding your pooches nuts and seeds, it is important they be prepped properly for optimal digestion. Dogs do not have a jaw structure that allows for the necessary grinding down of plant matter, nor do they have salivary enzymes for carbohydrate digestion.

To see how I ferment/prep raw nuts and seeds for Nolo, check out this video!

Follow me on instagram @nolorlin for more raw feeding content & recipes!


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