Health Benefits of Popular Seeds
Turns out bigger isn’t always better. That is, if we’re talking about seeds anyway. Nature’s tiny wonders, packed with nutrition and health benefits, often get overlooked when it comes to a balanced diet. Fortunately, that has started to change in the last few years as big chain supermarkets, not just specific health stores, are catering to a healthier and more balanced natural nutrition outline. So what seeds should you focus on to ensure your diet is chock full of delicious yet nutritious plant staples?
1. Chia seeds
I could go on for ages about chia seeds but I’ll try to keep it simple. The Aztecs and Mayans were using these superfoods long before we began mass-producing chia seed smoothies and whatnot. A single ounce of these little black pellets provides fiber and quality protein, both of which help to promote good digestive health and curb appetite in the healthiest way possible. Chia seeds also have calcium and phosphorous which promote bone health, magnesium, antioxidants, healthy omega-3 fatty acids and a slew of vitamins including B1, B2, B3 and zinc. They’re delicious and you can add them to literally anything: smoothies, salads, rice dishes, soups, yogurt, spreads, baked goods, vegetables and more. They’ll help you lose weight, improve metabolic health and digestion. One study found they can even be used as a replacement for sports drinks since chia seeds promote endurance. Mayan and Aztec warriors and athletes used to use this wondrous seed to maintain stamina and energy. What can’t chia do?
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2. Pumpkin seeds
These magical wonders only seem to pop into people’s heads during Halloween time when there is a massive amount of guts left from your mutilated jack o’lantern. But these seeds aren’t just for the fall season. They’re good all year round and high in protein, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, copper, B vitamins, vitamin K and E. They also protect against osteoporosis, help fight chronic disease such as diabetes and depression and contain L-tryptophan, which promotes healthy sleeping patterns and lowers depression. These seeds are best eaten raw so feel free to eat them right out of the bag or perhaps mixed in with a home made trail mix.
3. Hemp seeds
Now these seeds get a bad rap thanks to the fact that they are the same species as the famous Cannabis sativa plant or marijuana, but the negative association is completely unjustified. Hemp seed oil has been used as a food and medicine in China for at least 3,000 years. Hemp seeds are a complete protein so if eating meat is not your thing, this is a good alternative. Hemp seeds have a higher protein ratio than most seeds at 25% and they contain the essential fatty acids omega 6 and 3 that can be difficult to find in a vegetarian diet. They also are a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins A, B1, B2, D and E and can help with digestion.
4. Flax seeds
These seeds have been part of human culinary culture for over 6,000 years. They may even have been the world’s first cultivated superfood. They contain all the same benefits as the previously mentioned seeds but they do rank as the seed with the highest omega-3 fatty acids. The high amount of both soluble and insoluble fiber can support colon detoxification, fat loss and reduce sugar cravings. Flax seeds can also help you improve digestion, give you clear skin, lower cholesterol, balance hormones and fight cancer.
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These long time favorite seeds have a firm but tender texture. While other seeds have only recently become popular and heavily marketed, sunflower seeds are much commonly accepted and eaten. A handful of sunflower seeds will take care of your hunger, supply significant amounts of vitamin E, magnesium and selenium.
Make sure you buy from the bulk section at the supermarket, as if it will be much more cost effective. If you eat raw, unflavored and untreated seeds, you don’t need to worry but if you prefer your seeds dry roasted or flavored, aim for organic and GMO-free seeds. Others may contain high-sodium flavorings which can include harmful chemical ingredients