They may be small, but pumpkin seeds pack a nutritional punch. Like nuts, pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein and healthy fats including omega-3. Eating only a small amount of them will provide you with substantial levels of many of the nutrients and minerals you need.

In a one ounce serving (28 grams), you’ll get 151 calories — mostly from fat and protein — but also zinc (14%), magnesium (37%), iron (23%), vitamin K (18%), zinc (14%), copper (19%), manganese (42%), and phosphorus (33%).

Pumpkin seeds may appear on menus or products by the name “pepita” — a Mexican Spanish term. This typically denotes that the white, hard seed you usually see when you carve a pumpkin, has been shelled, and you can expect only the flat, green, oval interior seed.

Because of their profile, pumpkin seeds have been linked to improved heart health, prostate health, and protection again certain types of cancer. Here are 5 science-backed benefits of eating pumpkin seeds:

 1. Eating pumpkin seeds may help you sleep better

Magnesium aids in maintaining normal sleep patterns, so consuming pumpkin seeds, which are a great source of magnesium, could help improve your quality of sleep.

Studies have shown that magnesium supplements improved sleep quality and total hours spent sleeping in people with low magnesium levels.

2. Pumpkin seeds are good for heart health

As a good source of unsaturated fats, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), pumpkin seeds are thought to benefit your heart health and aid in the prevention of heart disease, when consumed as part of a balanced diet.

3. Pumpkin seeds can help manage diabetes

A 2011 study found that pumpkin seeds, along with linseed, helped in preventing diabetic complications such as high cholesterol and high blood sugar levels in animals.

Another study found that pumpkin seeds contain hypoglycemic properties which could help patients with diabetes better manage their blood sugar.

4. Eating pumpkin seeds may reduce risk of cancer

While there is no superfood that can prevent cancer, health diets, like one that regularly includes pumpkin seeds, may help reduce the risk of stomach, breast, lung, colon, and prostate cancers. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants, which help to eliminate “free radicals” in the body that can damage cells. One study, in particular, found that pumpkin seeds significantly lowered the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women, compared to those who ate no pumpkin seeds.

5. Pumpkin seeds are good for bladder health

This one still needs more research, but a 2014 study found that pumpkin seed oil, could potentially prevent or treat urinary disorders.

ALSO SEE: Try this pumpkin bread this fall.

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.