Pumpkin seed oil is a nutrient-rich oil cold-pressed from pumpkin seeds. It is also known as green gold, a reference to its abundant antioxidant content, as well as a generous amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Pumpkin seed oil also provides vitamins A, E and C, zinc, magnesium, tryptophan and linoleic and oleic fatty acids.
Pumpkin seed oil has been extensively studied for its beneficial effects on the male prostate. Some background: As a man ages, there is typically an increased conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can lead to cellular overgrowth in the prostate gland and the development of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Characterized by an enlarged prostate gland, BPH causes both a sense of urgency to urinate and difficulty maintaining a steady flow, creating the need to visit the bathroom several times a day and during the night. Pumpkin seed oil has been shown to reduce these symptoms, as well as cellular overgrowth in the prostate.
One of the largest studies on this effect was The German Research Activities on Natural Urologicals (GRANU) study published in Urology International in 2015. A total of 1,431 men aged 50-80 years participated , each of whom experienced lower urinary tract symptoms for the previous six months but were not taking any pharmaceutical medications. Each study subject was randomly assigned to either the treatment group that received 5 mg pumpkin seed capsules with 500 mg pumpkin seed extract, taken twice per day, or the placebo group. After 12 months, the pumpkin seed group demonstrated a greater relief of symptoms over the placebo group. Researchers suspect that this activity is due to a compound in pumpkin seed oil called delta-7-sterol, a steroid-like compound that competes with DHT.
Pumpkin seed oil may have other benefits for men. For instance, it may also help to prevent hair loss. Like enlarged prostate, male pattern balding is also related to the conversion of testosterone to DHT, which is triggered by increased levels of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase (5AR). The presence of DHT-inhibiting sterols like delta-7, as well as an abundance of zinc, appears to prevent hair follicles from entering a permanent state of rest that would otherwise occur with elevated DHT. One study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that men who consumed a daily dose of 200 mg pumpkin seed oil, taken twice per day, not only experienced less hair loss but also reported an increase in hair growth by an average of 40% within 24 weeks.
The oil has a rich, green color but a mild aroma and flavor. It may be used in salad dressings, pesto, dips, soups and sauces, drizzled over roasted vegetables or cooked pasta – in just about any food in which you would use olive oil. One caveat: direct heating can diminish the oil’s nutritional value, so it’s best to keep it out of the skillet.
Vahlensieck W, Theurer C, Pfitzer E, et al. "Effects of pumpkin seed in men with lower urinary tract symptoms due to benign prostatic hyperplasia in the one-year, randomized, placebo-controlled GRANU study." Urol Int. 2015;94(3):286-95.
Young Hye Cho, Sang Yeoup Lee, Dong Wook Jeong, et al. "Effect of Pumpkin Seed Oil on Hair Growth in Men with Androgenetic Alopecia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine