Are squash seeds digestible?

Squash seeds are a common part of many people’s diets, yet some wonder if they are actually digestible or if they pass through the body whole. There are a few key factors that determine whether squash seeds can be properly digested, primarily relating to how they are prepared and consumed.

Quick Answer

Yes, squash seeds are generally digestible for most people when chewed thoroughly. Roasting or cooking the seeds helps break down the tough outer coatings and allows digestive enzymes better access to digest the inner seed. Whole raw seeds may pass through undigested.

Digestibility Factors

Several factors impact the digestibility of squash seeds:

Seed Coat

Squash seeds have a tough outer coat that protects the inner seed. This coating is made of cellulose and lignin that are difficult to break down. Chewing well or cooking the seeds softens the coating so digestive juices can access the interior.


Cooking or roasting squash seeds makes them much more digestible by softening the outer coatings. The heat helps break down the tough cell walls so that enzymes can penetrate the seeds.


Thoroughly chewing squash seeds allows digestive enzymes in saliva to start breaking down the protective coatings. The mechanical action of chewing also softens and partially ruptures the coat to make the inner seed more accessible.

Seed Size

Smaller seeds, like those from zucchini or patty pan squash, have less dense and thick coats so they can be digested more easily. Larger seeds from pumpkins or hubbards have tougher coverings.

Enzyme Availability

A person needs sufficient enzymatic activity and bile acid production for proper digestion. People with compromised digestion may be unable to fully break down squash seed cell walls.

Transit Time

Squash seeds need adequate time in the digestive tract for enzymes to break them down fully. Slow digestion can allow for more complete nutrient absorption. Quick transit may result in intact seeds in stools.

Signs Seeds Are Not Digesting

There are a few key signs that indicate squash seeds may not be digesting properly:

– Identifiable seeds in stools
– Difficulty chewing seeds thoroughly
– Stomach discomfort when eating seeds
– Allergy symptoms after eating seeds
– History of digestive issues

Seeing whole or partially intact seeds in stools is a clear sign they have passed through undigested. Stomach discomfort, bowel issues, or allergies after consuming seeds can also indicate poor digestibility.

How to Improve Digestion of Squash Seeds

Several simple steps can help improve the digestion of squash seeds:

Cook or Roast Seeds

Heating the seeds softens the tough outer coatings and begins breaking down cell walls before seeds reach the digestive tract. Cooking for at least 15-20 minutes improves digestibility.

Chew Thoroughly

The mechanical action of chewing ruptures cell walls and allows digestive enzymes to start penetrating the seeds in the mouth. Chew each mouthful for 20-30 seconds.

Remove Outer Coat

For very large seeds with dense coats, removing part of the outer coating after roasting can enable digestive fluids to access the inner portion more easily.

Increase Fiber Intake

Eating more high fiber foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains can improve overall digestive motility and function to better digest seeds.

Stay Well Hydrated

Drinking adequate water and hydrating fluids keeps digestive processes working optimally to break down and assimilate seeds.

Do Squash Seeds Provide Nutrients?

Yes, squash seeds are nutritious and provide fiber, healthy fats, protein, minerals and beneficial plant compounds when digested properly. These are some of the nutrients found in squash seeds:


Squash seeds contain around 10 grams of protein per ounce, providing all essential amino acids. Pumpkin seeds have the highest protein content.

Unsaturated Fats

The fats in squash seeds are mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory effects. They provide antioxidants like vitamin E.


Squash seeds are rich in insoluble fiber, containing around 5-10 grams per ounce. Fiber promotes healthy digestion and gut function.


Seeds are high in minerals like magnesium, manganese, iron, copper and zinc that play vital roles in the body. Magnesium relaxes muscles and nerves.


Squash seeds contain a variety of phytosterols that can help lower LDL cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure.


These beneficial plant compounds in seeds have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects that may lower cancer and heart disease risk.

Do Squash Seeds Provide Calories?

Yes, squash seeds are a high calorie, energy dense food when digested. One ounce of roasted squash seeds contains:

159 calories

This comes mainly from the high fat content of the seeds. The calorie level is similar to nuts and seeds.

14 grams fat

Over 80% of the calories in squash seeds come from the high unsaturated fat content.

4 grams net carbs

Squash seeds provide a moderate amount of digestible carbohydrate and abundant fiber.

6 grams protein

Protein makes up around 15% of the calories in squash seeds. Pumpkin seeds provide 9 grams of protein per ounce.

The high calorie and nutrient density make squash seeds a filling, energy providing snack when eaten in moderation.

Do You Digest All the Calories from Squash Seeds?

How many of the calories from squash seeds you digest depends on several factors:

Seed Coat Integrity

The tougher the seed coat, the fewer calories and nutrients you will absorb. Well chewed or cooked seeds release more calories.

Transit Time

Slower gut transit allows more complete digestion and absorption of calories. Quick passage may result in excretion of intact seeds.

Digestive Health

Individuals with conditions like IBS, Crohn’s disease or digestive enzyme insufficiency may not digest seeds efficiently, absorbing fewer calories.

Food Sensitivities

Those with sensitivities to squash seeds may experience indigestion, reducing calorie absorption. Allergies can damage gut lining and impair absorption.


Some nutrients in seeds, like omega 3s and carotenoids, need bile acids and enzymes for optimal absorption. Compromised digestion affects bioavailability.

On average, it’s estimated that you absorb around 90-95% of the potential calories from properly prepared and chewed squash seeds.

Ways to Increase Calorie Absorption from Squash Seeds

If you want to maximize the calories you get from squash seeds, you can:

Roast or cook seeds thoroughly

Heating the seeds softens the coatings so more oil and interior nutrients are released.

Chew seeds very thoroughly

Breaking down the cell walls as much as possible allows digestive enzymes access to seed interiors to release calories.

Eat seeds slowly

This allows more time for digestion and absorption. Drinking water during meals supports this process.

Take a digestive enzyme supplement

Plant-based enzymes can help break down seed coatings and cell walls to make calories accessible.

Avoid eating seeds raw

Raw seeds are more likely to pass through undigested, while cooking begins the breakdown process.

Getting the most calories and nutrition from squash seeds requires preparing, eating and digesting them properly. Cooked, well-chewed seeds eaten slowly maximize calorie absorption.

Do You Need to Digest Seeds to Get Health Benefits?

Many of the beneficial nutrients in squash seeds need to be digested and absorbed to confer health benefits, though some benefits remain even if seeds pass through undigested.

Digestion Needed for Benefits

– Protein – Provides amino acids for muscle, tissue repair
– Fats – Absorbed for energy, hormone production
– Vitamins & minerals – Support enzymatic processes and metabolism
– Carotenoids – Antioxidant activity once absorbed

Benefits Without Digestion

– Fiber – Promotes gut health through regular elimination
– Polyphenols – Provide antioxidant and prebiotic effects in gut
– Lignans – Some immune and anti-cancer activity in digestive tract

While some components like fiber and polyphenols exert localized effects in the gut, most of the broad health benefits of squash seeds require them to be properly digested and assimilated.

Do Squash Seeds Cause Digestive Problems?

Squash seeds are generally well-tolerated, but some people experience minor digestive discomfort from eating them:

Bloating and Gas

The high fiber and oligosaccharide content of seeds can cause more gas production during digestion, leading to bloating and flatulence.

Stomach Pain

Improperly chewed seeds or eating too many can result in stomach pain and cramping in sensitive individuals due to irritation and indigestion.


Insufficient fluid intake when consuming seeds can exacerbate their constipating effects and cause problems for those prone to constipation.

Allergic Reactions

Squash seed allergies are rare but can cause severe stomach reactions, cramping, vomiting or diarrhea after consuming.

Intestinal Blockages

In very rare cases, a large quantity of intact seeds could potentially cause an intestinal blockage due to their size and hardness.

These issues are not common and often resolve by drinking more fluids, chewing seeds thoroughly or avoiding them if allergic. See a doctor for persistent gastrointestinal problems.

Steps to Avoid Digestive Problems from Seeds

You can take a few simple precautions to lower the risks of squash seeds causing digestive issues:

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Stay well hydrated when eating seeds to soften stool and aid elimination.

Chew Seeds Well

Thorough chewing ruptures tough seed coats so contents are more accessible to digestion.

Avoid Overeating Seeds

Limit portions to 1-2 ounces to reduce chances of irritation, cramping or blockages.

Soak Seeds Before Eating

Soaking large seeds like pumpkin seeds overnight can soften the coatings.

Stop Eating if Problems Persist

Discontinue seed consumption if you have ongoing digestive discomfort after eating them.

Being mindful of portion sizes, preparing seeds properly and drinking enough fluids minimizes the likelihood of experiencing any GI upset. Those with chronic digestive issues should exercise caution when adding seeds to their diet.

Do You Need to Drink More Water if Eating Squash Seeds?

Consuming squash seeds may require drinking extra water for a few reasons:

High Fiber Content

Squash seeds provide abundant insoluble fiber that needs water to pass smoothly through the intestines and prevent constipation.

Digestion Process

Fluids are essential for the digestion process, to allow enzymes to break down seed coatings and for nutrient absorption.

Kidney Function

Some minerals like magnesium and potassium in seeds require adequate hydration to be filtered by the kidneys effectively.

Dense Nutrition

The concentrated nutrition and calories in seeds uses more water for digestion compared to eating the same weight of other foods.


Seeds are very filling and satiating due to protein, fiber and fat. More fluids counteract their natural constipating effects.

Experts typically recommend drinking 8-16 ounces of water with each 1 ounce serving of seeds to aid digestion. Adjust your fluid intake based on your hydration needs if adding seeds to your regular diet.

Ideal Squash Seeds for Digestion

Some types of squash seeds may be easier to digest based on size, seed coat thickness and prep methods:

Seed Type Digestibility
Pepitas (Pumpkin) Moderate – large seeds with thick coats but roast well
Zucchini High – tiny, thin coats
Acorn Squash Moderate – smallish, moderately thick coats
Butternut Squash Moderate – chewy coats but smaller seeds
Hubbard Low – large, extremely tough coats

Smaller, thinner seeded summer squashes seeds tend to be the most easily digested. However, cooking and proper chewing enables digestion of any seed variety.


Squash seeds can provide valuable nutrition to your diet when properly prepared and chewed to enable digestion. Cooking or roasting helps soften tough outer coatings, and thorough chewing allows digestive enzymes access to seed interiors. Taking steps to promote good digestion and staying hydrated minimizes any potential abdominal discomfort from seeds. Pay attention to how your body reacts to identify any sensitivities. With few precautions, seeds can be an enjoyable, filling and nutritious snack for most people.

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