Frequently featured in flavorful recipes like pies, curries, cookies, and trail mix, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are staple ingredients in many households, especially during the holidays.
Although most people prefer eating them cooked or roasted, you can also eat pumpkin and pumpkin seeds raw.
Still, key differences set apart raw and cooked varieties, especially in terms of taste, texture, and nutritional value.
This article explains how raw and cooked pumpkin and pumpkin seeds compare with one another.
Raw pumpkin and pumpkin seeds may differ slightly in nutrients compared with their cooked counterparts.
In fact, cooking often decreases the content of water-soluble vitamins, including B vitamins like riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin, as well as vitamin C (
Cooked pumpkin may also contain slightly lower amounts of vitamin A, copper, and potassium (
This table compares 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of raw and boiled pumpkin (
|Raw pumpkin||Boiled pumpkin|
|Protein||1 gram||1 gram|
|Fat||0.1 grams||0.1 grams|
|Carbs||6.5 grams||5 grams|
|Fiber||0.5 grams||1 gram|
|Vitamin A||47% of the Daily Value (DV)||32% of the DV|
|Vitamin C||10% of the DV||5% of the DV|
|Vitamin E||7% of the DV||5% of the DV|
|Riboflavin||9% of the DV||6% of the DV|
|Copper||14% of the DV||10% of the DV|
|Potassium||7% of the DV||5% of the DV|
|Pantothenic acid||6% of the DV||4% of the DV|
|Manganese||5% of the DV||4% of the DV|
What about pumpkin seeds?
Although cooking may lead to a loss of micronutrients, one study found that roasting pumpkin seeds increased their antioxidant, phenol, and flavonoid contents (
Soaking and cooking these seeds may also reduce their amount of antinutrients, which are compounds that impair the absorption of certain minerals in your body (
Nonetheless, roasting them may increase the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are harmful compounds that are considered carcinogenic (
Raw pumpkin is slightly higher in water-soluble vitamins and other nutrients than cooked pumpkin. Still, raw pumpkin seeds may have fewer antioxidants and more antinutrients than roasted seeds.
Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds also taste a little different when raw rather than cooked.
Raw pumpkin has a fresh, somewhat bitter flavor and a fibrous, stringy texture. Because it can be difficult to eat on its own, it’s usually puréed or grated.
Cooked pumpkin, on the other hand, is sweeter. Its taste is often compared to sweet potatoes or squash.
Meanwhile, raw pumpkin seeds have a very mild flavor and chewy texture. As such, many people prefer roasting them, which gives the seeds a savory, nutty taste and crunchier texture.
Raw pumpkin is more fibrous and less sweet than cooked varieties, while raw pumpkin seeds are chewier and blander than roasted seeds.
Eating raw foods may increase your risk of food poisoning. This is especially true with raw pumpkin seeds, which may harbor harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli.
If consumed, these bacteria may cause foodborne illness, leading to symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and stomach cramps (
What’s more, sprouting and drying seeds does not completely eliminate these pathogens (
However, outbreaks of foodborne illness from pumpkin seeds are rare. Regulatory bodies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) work closely with food manufacturers to prevent contamination (
If you’re particularly concerned about food poisoning, you should cook pumpkin and pumpkin seeds thoroughly. It’s also important to practice proper food safety, store pumpkin seeds in an airtight container, and eat them within 2–3 months (
Raw pumpkin and its seeds may contain harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Practicing proper food safety minimizes your risk of infection.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy pumpkin and pumpkin seeds whether raw or cooked.
Raw pumpkin can be puréed and mixed into cottage cheese or grated and used as a nutrient-dense topping for salads and baked goods.
Meanwhile, cooked pumpkin works well in soups, stir-fries, curries, and desserts.
Pumpkin seeds can be seasoned and enjoyed raw or roasted for a simple snack option. They can also add crunch to soups, salads, sandwiches, and homemade trail mix.
Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds make great ingredients in soups and salads, as well as numerous other dishes, whether raw or cooked.
Raw foods may contain harmful bacteria, but outbreaks of foodborne illness from eating raw pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are rare.
While raw pumpkin and its seeds may have slightly more vitamins and minerals, their taste and texture are often considered less appetizing. They may also contain more antinutrients and fewer antioxidants than their cooked counterparts.
Regardless of whether you eat these foods raw or cooked, be sure to practice proper food safety and enjoy them as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.
Just one thing
Try this today: One of my favorite ways to use pumpkin seeds is to make homemade pesto. Simply blend raw or roasted pumpkin seeds with olive oil, garlic, basil, sea salt, and lemon juice.