An international study by researchers from the U.S. and Iran has found that pumpkin seed oil can potentially reduce the risk of hypertension in women. In their study, published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, the team looked at how supplementing with pumpkin seed oil can impact vascular function in postmenopausal women.
Pumpkin seed oil improves blood pressure after menopause
Menopause can bring many changes to a woman. In fact, she can experience these changes for up to a year before menopause – a period known as perimenopause.
During perimenopause, a woman can experience the following symptoms.
- Irregular periods. As the body produces less estrogen, the length of time between periods may either be longer or shorter. There may be times that she skips her period altogether. A woman who has a space of 60 days or more between periods is likely in perimenopause.
- Hot flashes and night sweats. Hot flashes and night sweats are common and well-known symptoms of perimenopause. The intensity, length and frequency of hot flashes differ for each woman. In some cases, hot flashes can interrupt sleep.
- Mood changes. Many women in perimenopause experience increased irritability and depression. Experts say this may be caused by sleep disruption; however, other factors that are not related to perimenopause may also cause mood changes.
- Changes in cholesterol levels. For women in perimenopause, declining estrogen levels means changes in cholesterol levels. In particular, their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — also known as the “bad” cholesterol — may increase and put them at risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, their high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, may decrease, which also puts them at risk of cardiovascular disease.
Unfortunately, a woman’s risk of heart disease increases after menopause. In fact, earlier studies have shown that over 75 percent of postmenopausal women are hypertensive. Hypertension is a condition where the long-term force of the blood against the arterial walls is high enough to cause health problems. A sedentary lifestyle, poor diet and lack of regular exercise contribute to hypertension.
In their study, the team assessed the potential of pumpkin seed oil to prevent or treat hypertension in postmenopausal women. They recruited a total of 23 women for their small-scale study. The researchers asked the participants to take either a pumpkin seed oil supplement or a placebo three times a day for six weeks. The researchers measured the participants’ blood pressure and other parameters related to cardiovascular function before and after the trial.
The results revealed that women who took pumpkin seed oil experienced a significant decrease in their blood pressure and arterial stiffness. According to the team, this suggests that consuming pumpkin seed oil can lead to positive outcomes, especially in postmenopausal women who are at risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Other benefits of pumpkin seed oil
Pumpkin seed oil is known for its multiple health benefits. Aside from treating menopause symptoms, studies show that it can help prevent hair loss, improve heart health and prostate health (in men) and even prevent certain cancers. (Related: Unrefined pumpkin seed oil increases antioxidant properties of bakery products.)
Here are some more benefits you can get from pumpkin seed oil.
- Lower cholesterol levels. Pumpkin seed oil is packed with phytosterols that block cholesterol absorption and help lower cholesterol levels.
- Improved urinary function. A study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine revealed that consuming pumpkin seed oil can provide relief from an overactive bladder.
- Improved liver health. In a study published in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers found that unrefined pumpkin seed oil helps reduce inflammation and fat accumulation in the liver caused by a high-fat diet. This means that supplementing with pumpkin seed oil could help attenuate non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).