Eating seeds is not just a passing fad. Seeds are the foundation of life for developing plants. So, it makes sense that they are tremendously nutritious for us human folk. All in all, seeds pack a nutritional punch. Experts agree that including a variety of super seeds in your diet is a tasty way to get your heart-healthy plant-based protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Here are five super seeds you should be eating daily.
Nuts vs. seeds – what’s the difference?
Both nuts and seeds are highly nutritious and vital for your diet. In fact, they are both similar nutritionally — but there is a difference. A nut is actually the fruit of the plant, contains the plant’s single seed within its interior. Nuts are tasty nuggets containing healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, and other nutrients. However, too much of a good thing — more than a handful per day — and you may pack on extra calories that could supersede the health benefits.
The seed is the part of a plant that contains the embryo of a future plant. It provides a great source of energy for the plant and contains stored nutrients and oil, making it high in fiber, vitamins, and monounsaturated fats. It is also a great source of protein, minerals, and other life-enhancing nutrients. Research shows that consuming seeds as part of an overall balanced and healthy diet can help prevent weight gain, heart disease, and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. For optimal nutrition, enjoy a handful of these seeds in yogurt, smoothies, salads, and more.
Chronic inflammatory diseases, the root of all evil, are the most significant causes of death in the world. In fact, the frequency of diseases associated with chronic inflammation is projected to drastically increase over the next 30 years in the U.S.
- Pumpkin seeds can help fight inflammation. Their antioxidant activity helps reduce inflammation and protect your cells from harmful free radicals. An animal study found that pumpkin oil reduced inflammation in rodents with arthritis, without side effects. In comparison, rodents given an anti-inflammatory drug experienced adverse effects.
Pumpkin seeds have also been linked to a reduced risk of certain cancers.
- A large observational study found that eating pumpkin seeds daily reduced the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
In addition, pumpkin seeds are super high in magnesium (one ounce equals 37 percent of the RDI).
- According to research, magnesium is involved in over 600 reactions in the body. It also controls blood pressure, reduces heart disease, maintains bone health, and regulates blood sugar.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, says the World Wide Health Organization (WHO).
- Hemp seeds may reduce your risk of heart disease thanks to high amounts of the amino acid arginine. Arginine produces a gas molecule (nitric acid) in your body that makes your blood vessels dilate and relax. This leads to lowered blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Research published in Springer Link concludes that hemp seed is exceptionally nutritious and rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids — a whopping 80 percent! It’s also an exceptionally rich source of the two essential fatty acids linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid.
- This fatty-acid profile fights inflammation, protects your heart and immune system.
Osteoarthritis, often debilitating, is the most common source of joint pain frequently affecting the knees. Various factors can play a role in osteoarthritis, including inflammation and oxidative damage to the cartilage that cushions joints.
A study on sesamin, a compound in sesame seeds, found that it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may help protect cartilage.
- In the two-month study, participants with osteoarthritis ate five tablespoons of sesame seed powder daily — alongside drug therapy. They experienced a 63 percent decrease in knee pain. Those taking drug therapy alone only experienced a 22 percent decrease in pain. Moreover, those eating sesame seeds showed a greater improvement in mobility and a reduction in inflammation compared to the control group.
Sesame seeds are also a good source of selenium, necessary for thyroid health.
- Research suggests that the thyroid contains the highest amounts of selenium of any organ in the body. This mineral plays an important role in making thyroid hormones.
Additionally, sesame seeds are a good source of copper, iron, zinc, and vitamin B6, more nutrients required to support thyroid health.
Centuries ago, chia seeds played a vital food role for the Aztecs and Mayans. They were prized for their ability to deliver sustainable energy. In fact, the word “chia” meant “strength” for the ancient Mayan people. Today, they’ve become known as a modern-day super seed. Calorie for calorie, chia seeds are one of the world’s best sources for nutrients.
- Impressively these little seeds pack a punch of nutrition per one-ounce serving: 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 5 grams of omega-3s, 18 percent RDI calcium, 30 percent RDI manganese, 30 percent RDI magnesium and 27 percent RDI phosphorus.
Many health experts also believe that chia seeds can help you lose weight.
- Chia seeds soluble fiber can absorb large amounts of water, allowing it to expand in your stomach, decreasing appetite while making you feel full.
Vegetarians or those who don’t enjoy eating fish need to find the best source for Omega-3s. And flax seeds fit the bill! Why is that important? Well, the human body can make most of the types of fats it needs, according to Harvard Health. But that’s not the case for omega-3 fatty acids.
- Omega-3 fats play an essential role in the body by positively impacting your cells. Omega-3s are also helpful for blood clotting and contracting and relaxing artery walls.
- Omega-3s have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke. Additionally, they help control diseases like eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. And they can fight and prevent cancer and other conditions.
Ultimate Super Seed Brittle
Here’s a tasty little way to incorporate super seeds into your daily diet.
- 1 1/4 cups raw organic honey
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1/4 cup each raw, organic: pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds
- 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons organic butter
- 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
- Heat honey, salt, nutmeg, and water in a saucepan on medium until smooth and liquid.
- Add seeds and cook, stirring for about 5 to 10 minutes. If you have a candy thermometer, cook until 300°F.
- Stir in vanilla and butter until melted.
- Add the baking soda and stir. This will cause a foaming reaction.
- Pour the mixture out onto a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Let cool completely.
- Once cooled and hardened, simply break into pieces.
Wait…don’t seeds trigger diverticulosis?
At one time, doctors suggested that those who suffered from diverticulosis should avoid seeds. They thought that the tiny seeds could lodge into the small pouches in the gut lining (the diverticula), causing inflammation (diverticulitis). However, there is no scientific evidence supporting the idea that seeds cause diverticulitis flares, according to Duke Health. In fact, eating a high-fiber diet—which may include seeds—may actually reduce the risk of diverticular disease. So, go ahead and eat your seeds!