What Is Pumpkin Seed Oil?

Pumpkin seed oil softgel, capsules, and cooking oil

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Pumpkin seed oil is also called pepita oil. It is the oil extracted from the seeds of a pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima).

The orange-red oil is sold for cooking and as a health supplement. Research suggests pumpkin seed oil may have a number of health benefits.

This article looks at pumpkin seed oil, its uses, and possible side effects. It also discusses dosage and preparation.

What is Pumpkin Seed Oil Used For?

Pumpkin seed oil has been studied for the following uses:

Lowers Cholesterol

Pumpkin seed oil contains phytosterols. These are structurally similar to the body’s cholesterol.

Phytosterols compete with cholesterol for absorption in the digestive system. This can block cholesterol absorption and lower cholesterol levels. 

Most of the fat in pumpkin seed oil is polyunsaturated fat. This includes omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Research has shown that these fatty acids can help lower your LDL cholesterol. LDL is considered "bad" cholesterol. They may also help prevent heart disease.

You'll also get a small amount of monounsaturated fat when you consume pumpkin seed oil. Monounsaturated fats are considered "good" fats. This is because they can help boost your HDL or "good" cholesterol levels.

Recap

Research suggests that pumpkin seed oil may help reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.

Hair Loss

In a 2014 study, researchers looked at hair growth in males who took pumpkin seed oil. Subjects took either a placebo or 400 mg of pumpkin seed oil per day for 24 weeks.

The subjects who took the pumpkin seed oil saw a 40% increase in hair count. The subjects who took the placebo saw only a 10% increase in hair count.

This study was funded by a private company, but the authors reported no conflict of interest.

Relief of Menopausal Symptoms

In a 2011 pilot study, researchers gave 35 menopausal females either pumpkin seed oil or wheat germ oil. They found that those who took pumpkin seed oil had increases in HDL cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is considered "good" cholesterol.

Subjects also had a decrease in diastolic blood pressure. This is the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats. They also had fewer menopausal symptoms such:

  • Hot flashes
  • Headaches
  • Joint pain

Study authors said more research is needed to confirm their results.

Recap

Pumpkin seed oil may be able to reverse hair loss in males. In females, there is some evidence it can ease the symptoms of menopause.

Urinary Tract Health

Research has linked pumpkin seed oil to urinary tract health. This includes:

In a 2014 study, participants took pumpkin seed oil extract for 12 weeks. Results suggested that pumpkin seed oil may help improve overactive bladder symptoms.

Another study compared pumpkin seed oil to saw palmetto oil for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Results suggested that both oils were effective individually for improving urinary flow rate.

Taken together, pumpkin seed and saw palmetto oils reduced serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. PSA is a protein produced by the prostate gland. PSA levels can be high in males with BPH.

Recap

Some research suggests that pumpkin seed oil may help improve prostate health. It may also help improve symptoms of overactive bladder.

Possible Treatment for Metabolic Disease

A 2017 study looked at the effect of pumpkin seed oil on metabolic disease in rats. Metabolic disease is any condition that affects your metabolism.

Results suggested that pumpkin seed oil could prevent or treat metabolic disorder in rats fed a high-fat diet.

Success in a rodent study doesn't necessarily mean humans will have the same benefit. These studies only offer clues that help researchers develop new studies.

Blood Pressure and Heart Disease

A 2012 study found that pumpkin seed oil may be able to lower blood pressure. It also suggested that pumpkin seed oil might help prevent heart disease.

This study was also performed on rats. This means it is unclear whether humans would experience these same benefits.​

Recap

Some animal studies have suggested that pumpkin seed oil may be helpful for treating metabolic disease, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Animal studies don't always translate well to humans, though.

Possible Side Effects of Pumpkin Seed Oil

Pumpkin seed oil is probably safe when taken as directed.

People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid taking pumpkin seed oil in amounts greater than those found in food. This is because there is not enough evidence to support its safety.

Pumpkin seed oil

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Dosage and Preparation of Pumpkin Seed Oil

As a supplement, pumpkin seed oil is sold in dosages between 100 mg and 2,000 mg.

Pumpkin seed oil is also available as a cooking oil. It has a nutty flavor. It can be used in a variety of recipes, including:

  • Salad dressing
  • Marinades
  • Toppings

You can even try pouring a small amount of pumpkin seed oil over ice cream.

Pumpkin seed oil has a smoke point of 320 F or lower. This is the temperature where it starts to smoke. For this reason, it should not be used for:

  • Frying
  • Sautéing
  • Stir-frying
  • Any other form of cooking with heat

A typical serving of pumpkin seed oil is 2 teaspoons. This has 80 calories and 9 grams of fat.

What to Look For When Buying

Choose cold-pressed oil when buying pumpkin supplements or cooking oil. This means the oil has been extracted with pressure instead of heat.

Heat may deplete some of the oil's antioxidants. Cold-pressed oil has more health benefits.

How to Store Pumpkin Seed Oil

Keep pumpkin seed oil in a cool cupboard, away from direct sunlight. Refrigeration is often recommended after opening.

If you refrigerate your pumpkin oil, bring it to room temperature before you use it. When stored properly, pumpkin oil can last up to two years.

Recap

Cold-pressed oil has more health benefits than oil that's been extracted with heat. Store your pumpkin seed oil in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate after opening.

Summary

Pumpkin seed oil comes from the seeds of the pumpkin. It is sold for cooking and as a health supplement.

Pumpkin seed oil may help lower cholesterol. There is also some evidence that it can help reverse hair loss.

Pumpkin seed may help ease the symptoms of menopause. Research has also suggested it might be useful for improving urinary health. 

Animal studies have suggested that pumpkin seed oil may have some value for treating metabolic disease, high blood pressure, and heart disease. 

Avoid taking large amounts of pumpkin seed oil if you are pregnant or nursing. 

You can get more pumpkin seed oil in your diet by taking supplements or by adding it to sauces and dressings. Avoid using it with heat.

Look for cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil and store it in a cool place.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does pumpkin seed oil regrow hair?

    Possibly. Research suggests pumpkin seed oil can increase hair count in males. One study gave men 400 mg pumpkin seed oil for 24 weeks. It found increased hair growth after treatment. There is no research showing it has the same effect on women. 

  • Can you cook with pumpkin seed oil?

    Yes, but only for dishes that do not require heating. The oil smokes when cooked, even at low temperatures. Use pumpkin seed oil in salad dressings, drizzle it over soups or roasted vegetables before serving, or mix it into ice cream. 

  • Does pumpkin seed oil increase breast size?

    Probably not. Pumpkin seed is sometimes recommended as a supplement to enhance breasts. This is because it has estrogenic properties. However, there is no research to confirm this benefit. 

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7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Cho YH, Lee SY, Jeong DW, et al. Effect of pumpkin seed oil on hair growth in men with androgenetic alopecia: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:54972. doi:10.1155/2014/549721

  3. Nishimura M, Ohkawara T, Sato H, et al. Pumpkin seed oil extracted from Cucurbita maxima improves urinary disorder in human overactive bladder. J Tradit Complement Med. 2014;4(1):72-4. doi: 10.4103/2225-4110.124355

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  5. Zhao XJ, Chen YL, Fu B, et al. Intervention of pumpkin seed oil on metabolic disease revealed by metabonomics and transcript profile. J Sci Food Agric. 2017;97(4):1158-1163. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.7842

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