If you’re a fan of eating pumpkin seeds, regardless of whether they’re the whole, shelled, raw, or the roasted variety, you’ll know how easy it is to lose track of how many you’ve eaten. Like most seeds and nuts, pumpkin seeds have an addictive texture, which makes them very moreish, and before you know it, a serving can simply disappear. But what happens if you eat too many? Can they cause you harm? Let’s take a look.
The side effects of eating too many pumpkin seeds
Before we look at the potential side effects associated with eating too many pumpkin seeds, it’s essential to understand why they can occur, and it’s all down to fiber.
Whole pumpkin seeds (that is, the raw variety with their chewy shells) contain a massive five grams of fiber per one-ounce serving. This fiber is largely insoluble, meaning that it isn’t fully digested by the body. Although insoluble fiber is essential and can help to reduce constipation, eating too much of it gives your gut bacteria a bit of a workout, and in the process of trying to dissolve the undigested carbohydrate, gas is often released as a byproduct.
When eating a single 28g serving of pumpkin seeds, whatever the variety, the fiber content is rarely sufficient to cause any side effects, but if you were to double, triple, or quadruple the serving size by overeating, then this large amount of insoluble fiber can lead to gas, bloating, and in some cases diarrhea.
How to prevent gas and bloating when eating pumpkin seeds
For most people, eating pumpkin seeds in moderation is all they need to do to prevent gas and bloating; however, for those who are sensitive to insoluble fiber, it can help to eat their seeds with a glass of water or to blend them in a smoothie, as this can help to prevent digestive problems.
If whole pumpkin seeds prove too much for your digestive system, then switching to shelled pumpkin seeds is another option. By removing the fibrous husk, the fiber content of a serving of pumpkin seeds drops from five grams to just 1.7g, which is much easier for the digestive system to handle.
Can you be allergic to pumpkin seeds?
If you experience a rash, itching, or swelling of the neck or mouth after eating pumpkin seeds, then stop doing so immediately. Although rare and nowhere near as common as an allergy to sesame, certain individuals can have an allergic reaction to pumpkin seeds due to the presence of a compound called cucurbitacin. If you experience an allergic reaction after eating pumpkin seeds, then you should see an allergist for testing and may need to avoid them in your diet in the future.
So there you have it. Now you know why eating too many pumpkin seeds can make you run to the toilet or give you a nasty stomach ache. As with most foods, the key is to enjoy pumpkin seeds in moderation. Trust us, we know that eating only 28g can be difficult, but weighing out the exact serving and understanding why it is important not to overeat them can help.