Healthy seeds like flax, hemp, and sesame are an incredibly rich source of nutrients.
Seeds are especially rich in trace minerals like folate, iron, zinc, and healthy fats. But we don’t always get seeds in our diet. For many of us, nuts are the main type of seed in our food, and we rarely expand our diet to take advantage of the wide variety of healthy seeds available in nature – which means we’re missing out on many health benefits.
EATING SEEDS FOR A BETTER DIET
Seeds contain minerals, monounsaturated fats, fiber, and vitamin E; and these nutrients help keep your heart healthy and your body disease-free. Our ancestors relied on seeds to stay strong and healthy, and you can do the same by making minor adjustments to your diet. Let’s take a look at some healthy seeds to add to your diet, and reasons why you should be eating them.
They contain antioxidant properties and essential omega-3 fatty acids including alpha-linolenic acid, which enhances cardiovascular health. According to a paper published by Biochimie, a journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, alpha-linolenic acid reduces the risk of stroke significantly.
Flax seeds contain lignans, which are plant compounds that are reported to have antioxidant properties and to reduce the risk of cancer. The concentration of lignans found in flax seeds is 800 times higher than any other plant food. One Canadian study found that women who eat flax seeds are 18% less likely to develop breast cancer.
One way to eat flax seeds is to bake them into cookies or muffins, but you can also sprinkle them into your salads to get all the nutrients.
Hemp seeds contain over 30% healthy fat, and are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain phytosterols, a compound that is known to reduce cholesterol, and gamma-linoleninc, another compound that has great health benefits. The balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids affects immune responses in the body; and hemp seeds provide a good supply of polyunsaturated fats.
One study showed that giving hemp seeds to people with eczema can increase the levels of essential fatty acids in the blood. To get the most out of hemp seeds, grind them or buy them hulled as “hemp hearts” and add a spoonful to your morning yogurt or sprinkle them over fresh fruit.
They are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, and they contain calcium, fiber and iron. Omega-3 acids help to raise HDL cholesterol in your body (don’t worry this is “good” cholesterol), and they also protect you against strokes and heart problems. Chia seeds can help you reach your fitness goals by curbing your appetite, which is essential in managing body weight.
The best way to eat chia seeds is to add them into smoothies, salads, and granolas. You can also add one or two tablespoons into a beverage drinks – make sure to stir for at least 3 minutes. If you add the seeds to a drink or a “wet” dish, they swell up slightly as you eat, and they’re also a bit crunchy.
Sesame seeds are known for having a high nutritional content that include vitamins, minerals, natural oils, and trace minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and copper. In addition to all that, they also contain fiber, vitamin B6, folate, thiamin, and proteins.
The high fiber content helps with digestion and zinc is useful in production of collagen, which gives your skin elasticity and helps to repair damaged tissues. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2016, sesame seeds enhance antioxidant properties and minimize oxidative stress.
These small healthy seeds contain at least two nutrients that are good for your heart; Vitamin E, and folate. Just one quarter cup serving will give you 60% of the recommended daily value of Vitamin E – and from a nutritional standpoint, this is important in a number of ways. Vitamin E assists the body in neutralizing free radicals and this protects cell membranes against swelling and redness.
Both Vitamin E and folate have been shown to promote cardiovascular health, and magnesium, another ingredient found in sunflower seeds, enables muscles and the skeletal system to function properly. Magnesium also assists in respiratory function, heart health, and healthy PMS.
Magnesium also promotes a healthy mood. Over a century ago magnesium sulphate was given to people suffering from depression, and its success made it a valuable nutrient. Today magnesium is used in homeopathic therapies for mental health.
MAKE HEALTHY SEEDS AN EVERYDAY PART OF YOUR DIET
In order to see the long-term effects of these nutrients you have to make seeds a part of your daily diet. Find creative ways to include seeds in your snacks, drinks, and whole meals. Keep a bag of mixed seeds in your fridge to sprinkle on soups, salads, casseroles, and any other food you like. Remember, cooking is also a option when eating seeds, so find new ways to cook with seeds for a healthier diet.
We think you’ll quickly find that these healthy seeds become an essential, even craveable part of your meals.