For those of you who thought pumpkins were just for carving at Halloween or perhaps to make a pumpkin pie, think again. Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of protein and they pack in some other nutritional benefits too. They are neither as popular nor – many would argue – as effective as some other vegan protein powders, but pumpkin seed protein has its place as a cost-effective, healthy protein source for vegans and non-vegans alike.
Here we’ll run through some of the pros and cons of pumpkin seed protein, we’ll see how it compares to one of the most popular (non-vegan) whey protein powders out there and we’ll take a look at whether it’s feasible or desirable to attempt to make your own pumpkin seed protein powder.
Pumpkin Protein Powder: Benefits & Drawbacks
As with protein powder made from sunflower seeds, the powder made from pumpkin seeds is relatively high in potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and other minerals. It doesn’t contain as much vitamin E or B vitamins as sunflower seeds. However, pumpkin seeds contain more of two minerals vegans may lack: iron and zinc.
Higher Protein Than Sunflower
Pumpkin seeds also have a slightly higher protein content than sunflower seeds so the protein powder produced from them tends to contain around 60g of protein per 100g of powder (compared to around 45-50g of protein in a typical sunflower seed protein powder).
This still falls significantly short on the protein front when it comes to either pea protein isolate or indeed non-vegan options such as whey, which tend to contain upwards of 80g of protein per 100g of powder.
Like sunflower seed protein, the powder made from pumpkin seeds does not have an overpowering flavour so it can be mixed with a range of things from porridge to shakes to muesli. Because of the relatively high (mostly unsaturated) fat content, the mouthfeel tends to be comparable to that of whey protein in shakes.
It should probably go without saying, but clearly, pumpkin seeds are 100% vegan friendly, which is a big benefit for anyone on a plant-based diet. They are also gluten free and are a good way to avoid allergies to either dairy (whey) or soy that might be provoked by other protein products.
Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder Nutritional Values
Here we examine typical nutritional data from a popular pumpkin seed powder and a common whey protein powder.
Pumpkin Protein Powder Nutritional Data
|Typical Values||Clearspring Organic Raw 100% Austrian Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder (per 100g)||Clearspring Organic Raw 100% Austrian Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder (per 20g serving)|
|Energy||1408kJ / 334kcal||281kJ / 67kcal|
Whey Protein Isolate Nutritional Data
|Typical Values||Impact Whey Protein Powder (per 100g)||Impact Protein Powder (per 25g serving)|
|Energy||1740kJ / 412kcal||435kJ / 103kcal|
Pumpkin Protein Powder v Whey Protein Powder
As we can see, a typical pumpkin seed protein powder contains about 60g of protein per 100g, which is around 20g short of a typical whey protein isolate. But a good proportion of the difference is made up in fibre on the part of pumpkin protein. For people seeking to gain muscle, fibre neither helps nor hinders, but it does promote a healthy digestive system and, according to the NHS, “eating plenty of fibre is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer”.
Unless whey protein has been fortified, it doesn’t compare with pumpkin seed protein (or indeed most plant-based protein powder options) when it comes to vitamins and minerals (except for calcium, which is usually present in whey in reasonable quantities). So, while whey wins on the protein front compared to pumpkin seeds, the latter offers a better overall package when it comes to enhancing a person’s general health.
How to Pick Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder
If you have read any of the other vegan protein powder profiles on this site you would be forgiven for thinking we’re sounding a bit like a stuck record. But when it comes to buying any product you are going to literally consume (i.e. put in your body) it really does make a lot of sense to stick to brands and/or retailers you trust. In this way, you can be sure that the products meet all the required safety and legislative standards and are of good quality.
When it comes to pumpkin seed protein powder, it isn’t as common as some other options, such as pea protein, rice protein or even hemp protein, but there is still a fair amount of choice out there. That’s not to say the products are all that different though.
Most tend to be made from 100% pumpkin seeds and we would tend to stick to those rather than any that include any flavourings, added sugar or anything else. For vegans, 100% pumpkin seed protein is perfectly vegan friendly and it is more likely to include all the desirable nutrients (that could be “watered down” proportionally by the addition of lots of other ingredients).
What Is Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder?
Surprise, surprise! Pumpkin seed powder is powder made from pumpkin seeds. Whether you are familiar with the bulbous orange winter squash from making lanterns for Halloween or perhaps from memories of Cinderella’s carriage, this distinctive, pulpy gourd has plenty of uses. One of which is to produce protein powder from the seeds.
How Is Pumpkin Protein Powder Made?
In very simple terms, in order to make the seeds into protein powder, they are removed from the pumpkin, cleaned and dried/dehydrated and then ground into a fine powder. It is possible they could be pressed to remove the majority of the oil prior to grinding, though this will differ from brand to brand and may account for differing protein and fat levels between products you might encounter.
Make Your Own Pumpkin Protein Powder
It is technically possible to make your own pumpkin seed protein. If you want to do it from scratch, i.e. to sow, grow and harvest the pumpkins, remove, dry and grind the seeds, it would be a laborious process; not least because removing the seeds from a pumpkin is a much messier affair than acquiring the seeds from a sunflower, for instance.
If, on the other hand, you simply want to buy the pumpkin seeds from a shop and grind them up, it would certainly save a fair bit of time and hassle. But whether it would save much money (as compared to simply buying protein powder) is debatable and the protein content would be less than the powder products you can purchase. Overall, given that pumpkin seed protein powder isn’t as pricey as some options, if you are interested in pumpkin protein powder, it makes sense to just buy it readymade rather than attempting to make your own.
Pumpkin Protein Powder Conclusions
As with sunflower seed protein and hemp protein, pumpkin seed protein powder is going to appeal most to people who are seeking more than simply the highest possible quantity of protein in order to add muscle mass. This “more” comes in the form of nutritional benefits, most notably fibre, magnesium and phosphorous.
Of course, if you are not overly concerned about maxing out the protein content, you could just eat pumpkin seeds in their natural form rather than buying the powder, but the latter is more convenient if you want to add to shakes and smoothies.