Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative
Other Crop Genetics Cooperatives
Home About Membership Reports Gene Lists Conferences Links Search NCSU
Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report 23:122-123 (article 41) 2000

The Health Value of Styrian Pumpkin Seed Oil - Science and Fiction

Franz Siegfried Wagner

Institute for Regional Product Development, Technical Buro and Chemical Laboratory, Kogelberg 15, A-8430 Leibniz, Austria; wagner@hyperfood.net

Styrian Pumpkin-seed oil is a natural vegetable oil

Vegetable oils are very important in human nutrition. They provide our system with essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, Vitamin E and phytosterins. Among vegetable oils, the oil obtained traditionally from the hull-less seeds of the specific pumpkin variety cucurbita pepo var. styriaca occupies a distinct position because, in addition to its high content of valuable nutrients, it possesses a unique taste. Its special dark color has brought it the name of "green gold" of Styria (Fig. 1).

Unlike industrially refined vegetable oils, Styrian pumpkin-seed oil is a pure natural oil. Industrially refined oils go through a series of technical processes designed to produce an oil with little taste or odor. According to the austrian Food Codex, natural oils have to be produced "only by mechanical and physical processes,"and "no additives" are permitted. Pure natural oils, such as Styrian pumpkin-seed oil, retain all their original nutritional substances which in combination give them their distinctive odor and taste and which can contribute significantly to human health.

The healing qualities of Styrian pumpkin-seed oil have been recorded over several centuries. At present numerous medicinal preparations made from Styrian pumpkin-seeds are on the market. Two fields of medical applications are of special interest: prostate hyperplasia and bladder irritation.

An enlargement of the prostate gland is a typical ailment of men over 50. the actual cause of this condition has not yet been completely explained. One distinct possibility is the ratio change in the production of sexual hormones (androgen/estrogen) that occurs with aging. The phytosterins which are present in Styrian pumpkin-seed oil, because of their structural relationship to some bodily substances involved in androgen metabolism, are capable of reducing hormonal stimulation of the prostate cells, thus effectively protracting the development of adenoma of the prostate. Women in this age group often suffer from the consequences of irritations of the bladder. This typically feminine condition is being successfully treated with medications containing the active ingredients of Styrian oil-pumpkin seeds.

Styrian pumpkin-seed oil and cardio-vascular diseases

Heart and circulatory diseases are Number 1 among civilization-related threats to health. A number of factors, such as stress, smoking, and bad eating habits, are cited as causes for the growing frequency of cardio-vascular complaints. Nutritional institutions react to this phenomenon by recommending the reduction of over-all fat consumption - particularly of animal fats. They further recommend the selective use of vegetable oils. For these purposes, Styrian pumpkin-seed oil is especially suited because of its advantageous combination of fatty acids, over 50% of which is linoleic acid, one of the essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, necessary for maintaining health. furthermore, pumpkin-seed oil is rich in Vitamin E, carotenoids and phytosterines. Absence of cholesterol makes this oil an ideal natural nutrient that can help prevent heart and circulatory diseases. In this respect, Styrian pumpkin-seed oil conforms perfectly to the recommendations of nutritional institutions (Table 1).

Table 1. Constituents of Styrian pumpkin-seed oil per 100 g oil.

Energy

879 kcal/2682 kJ

Vitamin E

3500 μg α-tocopherol
4000 μg tocopherol equivalents

Saturated fatty acids
20.5g
Mono-unsaturated fatty acids
23.1g
Poly-unsaturated fatty acids from this linoleic acid
from this linoleic acid
51.6g50.9g

In addition to scientifically investigated and proven health benefits, there are of course many traditions found in folk medicine which claim a great variety of curative effects for pumpkin-seed oil, ranging from worming medicine to an aphrodisiac now fondly referred to as "Styrian Viagra". Many of these well-intended uses and recommendations have in common that they belong more to the realm of fantasy and fiction. At present they cannot be considered as a serious basis for scientific research.

Figure 1

Home About Membership Reports Gene Lists Conferences Links Search NCSU
Department of Horticultural Science Box 7609North Carolina State UniversityRaleigh, NC 27695-7609919-515-5363
Page citation: Wehner, T.C., Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative;
Created by T.C. Wehner and T. Ng, 1 June 2005; design by C.T. Glenn;
send questions to T.C. Wehner; last revised on 9 November, 2009