More than 1 billion people around the world are estimated to have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension [1, 2, 3].
When left uncontrolled, hypertension can lead to serious health conditions, such as stroke, kidney failure and heart attack [4, 5, 6, 7].
Fortunately, there are ways to keep blood pressure in a healthy range.
Health professionals agree that following a heart-healthy diet is one of the most effective ways to manage high blood pressure [8, 9, 10, 11]. That is to say, what you eat matters a lot if you have hypertension.
Many foods are known to help reduce blood pressure levels. In this article, we will talk about one of them; pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin Seeds & Hypertension
As stated in the title of the article, pumpkin seeds can help lower your blood pressure. These tiny oval seeds achieve this by providing your body with certain nutrients known to bring down blood pressure, such as potassium.
It is, however, important to note that neither pumpkin seeds nor another food alone can be enough to keep blood pressure down. But, together they can do a great job maintaining optimal blood pressure levels, especially when combined with other effective blood-pressure-lowering techniques such as doing exercise, abstaining from tobacco use and reducing stress.
We’ll be talking about the main reasons that make pumpkin seeds a good diet choice for people with hypertension and prehypertension. However, firstly, let’s define high blood pressure.
What is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. If you have high blood pressure, that means the pressure in your blood vessel walls is consistently above normal [12, 13].
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers:
- The systolic blood pressure (higher number) measures the force in your blood vessels when your heart beats.
- The diastolic blood pressure (lower number) measures the force in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats.
For most adults, normal blood pressure is a systolic pressure of less than 120 mmHg and a diastolic pressure of less than 80 mmHg.
According to the Cleveland Clinic; “In most cases, no one knows what causes high blood pressure. What is known is that the foods you eat can affect your blood pressure, in both good ways and bad,”.
Pumpkin Seeds and Blood Pressure: What Does the Research Say?
A small study, published in the Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, examined the effects of pumpkin seed oil in postmenopausal women with elevated blood pressure.
The results revealed that those who took 3 grams of pumpkin seed oil daily for 6 weeks experienced a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure, compared with a placebo group.
The researchers of that study concluded that pumpkin seed oil might be effective in the prevention and treatment of hypertension in postmenopausal women.
In another study, conducted in 2019, researchers aimed to examine the effect of a diet that contained both pumpkin pulp and seeds on the rats’ blood pressure and heart muscle.
The results of this rodent study showed; the rats that were given a diet, containing 4% pumpkin seeds or pumpkin flesh for 8 weeks had approximately 20 per cent lower blood pressure than the rats who were on the control diet.
Conclusion: Existing studies on this topic are promising and tell us that pumpkin seeds may help lower blood pressure. Nevertheless, larger and more robust studies are needed to deeply understand the blood-pressure-lowering effect of pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin Seeds Contain Nutrients Proven to Help Lower Blood Pressure
Some nutrients available in pumpkin seeds are proven to help lower blood pressure.
These nutrients are potassium and magnesium. Both of these minerals, especially magnesium, are found in pumpkin seeds in high quantities.
Additionally, pumpkin seeds contain an amino acid namely arginine that helps the body to produce more nitric oxide. This is important because research tells us that nitric oxide helps blood vessels expand and lower blood pressure.
Let’s go into more detail and explain how these nutrients affect blood pressure.
Magnesium and Blood Pressure
One of the main reasons pumpkin seeds are suggested to be beneficial for hypertension is because they are one of the best natural sources of magnesium.
A growing body of evidence tells us that magnesium can help lower blood pressure by increasing the production of nitric oxide in the body [14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19].
30 gr of pumpkin seeds contains approximately 155 mg of magnesium. That means a handful of pumpkin seeds meet almost 40% of your body’s daily magnesium need [20, 19].
Potassium and Blood Pressure
All nutrients play their role individually to keep blood pressure where it should be. Yet, potassium is one of the most important of them when it comes to managing high blood pressure.
The American Heart Association states: ” The more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine. Potassium also helps to ease tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps further lower blood pressure,“.
30 gr of pumpkin seeds contain roughly 260 mg of potassium. That indicates a handful of pumpkin seeds can give you approximately 10% of your body’s daily potassium requirement [21, 22].
Note: If you have kidney disease you probably need to limit your potassium intake. So, speak to your doctor about how much potassium you should consume a day if you have kidney disease [23, 24].
Nitric Oxide and Blood Pressure
Research suggests that arginine — an amino acid that abounds in pumpkin seeds — helps the human body to produce more nitric oxide, thus, lowering blood pressure.
Nitric oxide, which is an organic substance, widens blood vessels and lower blood pressure [25, 26, 27, 28].
Bear in mind that pumpkin seeds are one of the highest concentrations of arginine, a substance your body converts to nitric oxide [29, 30].
Do Pumpkin Seeds Lower High Blood Pressure Rapidly?
If your blood pressure readings are concerningly high or if you think you are experiencing a high blood pressure emergency, do not rely on pumpkin seeds or any other foods to lower your blood pressure rapidly.
Call your healthcare provider right away and wait for help to arrive. While waiting; lie flat and try to stay calm. Taking deep breaths can help lower your blood pressure to some extent.
Blood pressure readings above 180/120 mmHg indicate a hypertensive crisis and require immediate medical attention, this is especially true if the blood pressure remains in that range for more than 5 minutes [31, 32, 33].
How to Keep Blood Pressure Down
There is no miracle food that alone can keep blood pressure consistently down. And, that applies to pumpkin seeds too.
However, following a healthy diet consisting of nutritious foods that are especially rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium can make a huge difference.
Actually, this type of diet is known as the DASH diet which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
In addition to a healthy diet though, you can do more to keep your blood pressure numbers in a healthy range.
Here are other lifestyle changes that can help:
- Lose extra pounds
- Do exercise regularly
- Reduce sodium in your diet
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Quit smoking
- Cut back on caffeine
- Reduce your stress
- Monitor your blood pressure regularly
In this article, we talked about the potential effects of pumpkin seeds on blood pressure thoroughly and came to the conclusion that pumpkin seeds can help manage high blood pressure.
If you are going to add pumpkin seeds to your diet to control your high blood pressure, opt for unsalted pumpkin seeds as salt may increase blood pressure.
It is suggested that lack of sleep can cause blood pressure to increase [34, 35]. If so, you should know pumpkin seeds may also help you sleep.
Citrus fruits, fatty fish, pistachios, berries, pistachios, pomegranate juice, watermelon tomatoes, avocados and kiwifruit are among the foods that may help lower BP.
Note: Always work with your physician to effectively manage your high blood pressure.