Effect of supplementation with pumpkin seed oil versus pumpkin seeds on blood pressure and menopausal symptoms in non-hypertensive postmenopausal women



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Menopausal transition is a complex process often accompanied by series of physiological changes that can affect overall quality of life in women. Estrogen deficiency is associated with menopausal symptoms, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of phytoestrogens and may exert week estrogenic or anti-estrogenic effects. This randomized trial aimed to compare the effect of supplementation of pumpkin seeds (1½ teaspoons/ 4.1 grams a day) versus pumpkin seed oil (PSO) (2g/day) for 12 weeks on blood pressure (BP; systolic and diastolic), endothelial function, plasma lipids, C-rective protein (CRP) concentrations, and menopausal symptoms in non-hypertensive postmenopausal women. Postmenopausal women (n = 27) were randomly assigned to receive pumpkin seeds or PSO for 12 weeks. BP, plasma lipids, endothelial function, and CRP concentrations were measured at baseline and 12 weeks after supplementation. Participants also completed a menopausal symptom questionnaire at baseline and after 12 weeks. Statistical analysis was performed using Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS-version 24). Both within-subjects and between-subject effects were compared using repeated measures ANOVA. An alpha of 0.05 was set for significance. In the pumpkin seed group, systolic BP significantly decreased 3% (117.86±11.60 mmHg versus 114.43±14.39 mmHg; p=0.014) after supplementation compared to the PSO group. Diastolic BP at 12 weeks also decreased significantly (3%) in women belonging to the PSO group (74.85±8.61 mmHg versus 72.46±8.89 mmHg; p=0.026) and decreased 4.5% in the pumpkin seed group (73.93±6.49 mmHg versus 70.57±7.75 mmHg; p=0.002) from baseline. An improvement in endothelial function was seen by a non-significant increase in reactive hyperemia index (4%) and a decrease in augmentation index (25%) at 12 weeks in the pumpkin seed group. For women in the PSO group mean overall menopausal symptom score significantly decreased from baseline (15.77±6.77) to 12 weeks (8.46±5.98; p<0.01) with a significant decrease in severity of hot-flushes (p=0.02). There were no significant changes in plasma lipids and CRP-concentration in both groups. Pumpkin seeds exhibit cardio-protective benefits by reducing BP and a marginal improvement of endothelial function in postmenopausal women. Further studies at different doses of pumpkin seeds are required to better understand overall cardiovascular health benefits.



Phytoestrogens, Blood pressure, Menopause, Pumpkin seeds, Secoisolariciresinol, Estrogen, Cardiovascular disease, Endothelial function, Menopausal symptoms.