Do Pumpkin Seeds Actually Raise Testosterone?
Do pumpkin seeds raise testosterone?
Yes, pumpkin seeds help the body produce testosterone. They’re a rich source of nutrients: let’s delve deep into how they increase that ‘T’.
Testosterone plays some vital roles in both male and female bodies.
However, the stereotypical image of a testosterone-fuelled raging man is grossly incorrect. Traditional ‘masculine’ behaviour is absolutely not linked to higher levels of testosterone.
Also, women actually produce 3-4 times as much testosterone as they do oestrogen.
Many people mistake the symptoms of anabolic steroid abuse with high testosterone. Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone: they cause behaviour and mood changes that include rage, paranoia, irritability, and poor judgment.
Testosterone, however, is a naturally-regulated hormone. It can increase muscle protein synthesis, leading to greater muscle mass, but that’s far from all.
Testosterone also plays an important role in your bone health. Age-related testosterone deficiency is the most important factor of bone loss in elderly men. Having too little testosterone can increase your risk of osteoporosis.
Unsurprisingly, testosterone is important for your reproductive health. For men, too little testosterone can lead to erectile dysfunction. However, low testosterone does not cause infertility. Sperm count is regulated through another hormone that we’ll meet shortly.
For women, too-low levels in women cause lethargy and weakness; too much can trigger Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Finally, testosterone is also vital to mental health. Too little testosterone can play a role in depression, anxiety and mood swings.
How is Testosterone Produced?
Testosterone is part of the complex endocrine system.
First, the hypothalamus – a tiny clump of neurons, buried deep within your brain – releases a hormonal signal. This signal travels through the blood vessels to the pituitary gland, a pea-sized chunk that sits behind your eyes.
The pituitary gland then releases gonadotrophins. These are two hormones (LH and FSH) that move through the blood stream, following the flow of blood to the sexual organs. LH and FSH then act on the gonads.
Fun fact: ‘gonads’ – medically speaking – refers to both the testes and ovaries!
Once at the gonads, the gonadotrophins activate certain cells called the Leydig cells. These create a cascade of chemical reactions, leading to the release of testosterone into the bloodstream.
Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain the crucial phytochemical cysteine. The amount of testosterone created in the Leydig cells is tightly regulated by a certain enzyme called PKA.
In mice, it was found that cysteine increases testosterone production. It’s thought that cysteine activates higher quantities of PKA enzymes, leading to a larger flood of testosterone.
Another vital component is zinc. Zinc is important to any healthy diet. As it’s not produced by your body, it absolutely must come from your diet; thankfully, pumpkin seeds are a source of zinc.
Zinc increases testosterone production, but it’s not yet fully clear how it interacts with the endocrine process. The element does clearly aid enzyme function, however. Despite the academic blanks, it’s well-established that zinc deficiency plays havoc with your testosterone levels.
Unfortunately, many are deficient in zinc without even knowing it. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that zinc deficiency affects 31% of the global population.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance of zinc is 8 mg/day for women and 11 mg/day for men. A cup of seeds contains 7.99 mg of zinc; almost 100% of the RDA for women.
Enjoying Pumpkin Seeds
If preparing and roasting your own pumpkin seeds, I recommend the small and medium-sized ones. Larger pumpkin seeds are generally tougher, though still safe for consumption.
Raw seeds are generally an inferior choice: roasting is the best way to enjoy the health benefits.
After cleaning, boil the seeds in water for a few minutes, before patting dry and laying them out to roast.
Add some salt or spices to taste; paprika works well for a savoury snack.
if you want to get fancy, then cranberry, pumpkin seed and caramel flapjack can make for an indulgent, healthy(ish) afternoon snack.
No matter how you prep your pumpkin seeds, your endocrine system will thank you!
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