Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are a popular ingredient in Mexican cooking and an addictive snack. They can also be used in baked goods and desserts for added fat, crunch, and flavor. In addition, these tasty, green morsels are pretty affordable and very nutritious.
But the important question is, are pumpkin seeds keto?
In short, yes. Pumpkin seeds, like most seeds, are high in fat and low in carbs. They provide additional nutrients and fiber to help you stay well-nourished and in ketosis. And all that while being tasty and crunchy.
What Are Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin seeds are the edible seeds of pumpkins or squash that are usually consumed salted and roasted. Many varieties of pumpkin have seeds that are ideal for roasting. Some even produce seeds without the tough outer shell; a great example is the Kakai pumpkin.
Pumpkin seeds are a popular snack that you’ll find sold alone or in trail mixes. They’re also added to granola energy bars, baked goods, and even chocolate. They were first eaten in North America and widely consumed by Native Americans. Today, most of the pumpkin seeds eaten in the U.S. are imported.
Besides being enjoyed as a crunchy, salty snack, these bright green seeds can be turned into flour, paste, and even milk. Pumpkin seed oil is also popularly consumed in Europe and appreciated for its intense nutty taste.
Pumpkin Seed Nutrition
Like any other seed, pumpkin seeds are jam-packed with nutrients, especially minerals. Seeds are nutrient-dense, providing everything a plant needs to grow and stave off disease. We, too, can use these nutrients by making pumpkin seeds a part of our diets. Here’s a nutritional breakdown of around an ounce of pumpkin seeds :
- 158 calories
- 8.5 g protein
- 13.9 g fat
- 1.3 g net carbs
- 2.5 mg iron (15% DV)
- 73.4 mg magnesium (18% DV)
- 2.9 mg zinc (19% DV)
However, the exact nutrient composition of pepitas depends on the variety of pumpkins and the processing method. But typically, pumpkin seeds are at least 50% fat, 25% protein, 25% carbs, and 5% fiber . These seeds are also a good source of B vitamins, which are essential for energy production and brain health, as well as vitamin E.
Are Pumpkin Seeds Keto-Friendly?
Pumpkin seeds are definitely keto-friendly at only 1.3 g of net carbs in a 1-oz serving. And with their fat and protein content, they can add valuable nutrition to your diet. Even if you eat more than the standard 1 oz (a handful) a day, you’d probably be nowhere near your daily carb limit of 20-50g of carbs per day.
Furthermore, most of the fat in pumpkin seeds is unsaturated. Or more specifically, pumpkin seeds are high in polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) called omega-6. That is one of two essential fatty acids, with the other one being omega-3. Some keto dieters want to keep their omega-6 intake low because studies have linked a disproportionately high omega-6 to omega-3 intake to chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis .
However, a high intake of omega-6 fatty acids alone is unlikely to be the sole factor in these growing health problems. And besides, one way you could balance out your intake of the two essential fatty acids is by ensuring you eat omega-3-rich foods like fish, chia seeds, berries, and leafy greens .
How to Use Pumpkin Seeds on Keto
Feel free to enjoy pepitas as they are as a snack. Optionally, use them to make keto-friendly granola, energy bars, or fat bombs. When finely ground in a high-power blender, you can make homemade pumpkin seed paste, an allergy-friendly alternative to peanut butter.
Pumpkin seeds can also be added to desserts. Unsalted ones may be best; however, omit the added salt in sweet recipes when using pepitas. They can be an excellent nut alternative in cookies, muffins, brownies, pancakes, and cakes. You can also grind them into meals to make green-hued desserts for St. Patrick’s Day.
Like nuts, seeds have a place in the keto diet. And that also holds for pumpkin seeds, thanks to their low-carb, high-fat, and moderate-protein content.
Pumpkin seeds are keto-friendly and generally good for you. Although their fat is primarily pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, pumpkin seeds are also a source of anti-inflammatory nutrients, like vitamin E and zinc. In addition, they’re an affordable source of quality nutrition and can help you stick to a budget.
They can fit into savory and sweet dishes with their green hue and nutty flavor. If you’d like to try different pumpkin seed products, know that making homemade pumpkin seed paste, meal, and even milk is easy with a quality blender.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central. Seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, dried. April 2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170556/nutrients
- Syed QA, Akram M, Shukat R. Nutritional and Therapeutic Importance of the Pumpkin Seeds. BioMedical. 2019; 21 (2) 15798-15803. DOI: 10.26717/BJSTR.2019.21.003586
- Patterson E, Wall R, Fitzgerald GF, Ross RP, Stanton C. Health implications of high dietary omega-6 polyunsaturated Fatty acids. J Nutr Metab. 2012;2012:539426. doi:10.1155/2012/539426
- Zivkovic AM, Telis N, German JB, Hammock BD. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids aid in the modulation of inflammation and metabolic health. Calif Agric (Berkeley). 2011;65(3):106-111. doi:10.3733/ca.v065n03p106