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Dr. Tori Hudson, Portland, Oregon, Blog Healthline Blog

Today is Halloween…. and not surprisingly, I’m thinking about pumpkins.  Pumpkins have found their way into my heart from seeing fields and fields of bright orange globes adorning the landscape, then finding their way onto the steps and counter tops of celebrating homes— complete with creative additions and carvings, aglow with candles…and then of course one of my favorite desserts… pumpkin pie!  And don’t forget the aroma of their seeds, roasting in my oven while I enjoy the comforts of sitting in front of my wood stove.  Ahh… it’s autumn.  The best.

Speaking of the seeds.  Amongst their many health benefits, they contain many nutrients including zinc, manganese, fiber, essential fatty acids and antioxidants.  Three studies on the seeds are of note for women.

Firstly: Pumpkin seed oil improved overactive bladder symptoms in women (and men). Forty-five men and women were given 10 g/day of pumpkin seed oil for 12 weeks.  The degree of overactive bladder symptoms were reduced significantly including daytime frequency, nighttime frequency, urgency, and urgency incontinence.

(Reference: Mie Nishimura, Tatsuya Ohkawara Hiroji Sato, et al. Pumpkin Seed Oil Extracted From Cucurbita maxima Improves Urinary Disorder in Human Overactive Bladder.  J Traditional and Complementary Medicine. 2014 Jan-Mar; 4(1): 72–74.)

Secondly:  A population based case control study in German postmenopausal women evaluated the association of phytoestrogen-rich foods and dietary lignans with breast cancer risk. Dietary data were collected from breast cancer patients and women without breast cancer.  High and low consumption of soybeans as well as of sunflower and pumpkin seeds were associated with significantly reduced breast cancer risk compared to no consumption.  These observed associations were seen whether estrogen receptor positive or estrogen receptor negative breast cancer.

(Reference: Zaineddin A, et al.  The association between dietary lignans, phytoestrogen-rich foods, and fiber intake and postmenopausal breast cancer risk: a German case-control study. Nutr Cancer. 2012;64(5):652-65. )

Thirdly: A 12-week study in 35 postmenopausal women found that pumpkin seed oil supplements reduced diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of a reading) by 7% and increased “good” HDL cholesterol levels by 16% after taking 2 gm/day.  There was also a significant improvement in the menopausal symptom scores specifically with a decrease in severity of hot flushes, less headaches and less joint pains.

(Reference: Gossell-Williams M, et al. Improvement in HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women supplemented with pumpkin seed oil: pilot study.  Improvement in HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women supplemented with pumpkin seed oil: pilot study.  Climacteric. 2011 Oct;14(5):558-64. )

Tis the season— pumpkins, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, a field of pumpkins…….. enjoy.  Power to the pumpkin!!!

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