Edible seeds from Cucurbitaceae family as potential functional foods: Immense promises, few concerns

Biomed Pharmacother. 2017 Jul;91:330-337. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2017.04.090. Epub 2017 May 2.


Cucurbitaceae family members such as pumpkin and watermelon have seeds that are discarded as the by-products of food processing. However, they have been discovered to contain a rich repertoire of nutrients such as proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, phenolic acids, carotenoids, tocopherol, phytosterol, squalene etc. Biological assays have proven the seed extracts to exert antioxidative, hypoglycemic, anticancer, antihypertensive, cardioprotective, antilipemic, gynoprotective, and anthelmintic properties. Further, the seeds do not contain any major anti-nutrients. Phytoestrogens like β-sitosterol occur, which might be acting as agonists or antagonists of estrogen and testosterone, given their validated role in gyenic and prostate health. Few instances of intestinal bezoar, and allergy, following pumpkin seeds consumption have emerged. After the risk-benefit analysis though exhaustive literature search, it can be suggested that these seeds are underutilized and they can be used to formulate a myriad of nutraceuticals.

Keywords: Cucurbitaceae; Functional food; Polyunsaturated fatty acid; Seeds.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Cucurbitaceae / chemistry*
  • Functional Food*
  • Models, Biological
  • Seeds / chemistry*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antioxidants