After experimenting with adding chia seeds to smoothies, I became curious about other seeds that have become popular lately. Seeds grow into plants, so they obviously contain the large number of nutritional building blocks necessary to nurture new life. The general consensus is that most of these seeds are very good for you, although there is limited scientific information to back up the health claims. The best way to achieve optimal health is with a balanced diet and an active lifestyle. While they may not live up to their most extreme health claims, these seeds can be used as a building block for a healthy diet and lifestyle as a way to pack in those extra nutrients.
Here are a few of the most popular and nutrient-rich edible seeds:
The fad seed of the hour, it seems the benefits of chia seeds are being exalted everywhere across the health food world. After trying them, I can definitely understand the appeal. In their dry form, chia seeds have a subtle nutty taste and crunchy texture. When soaked in water they develop a slight film that makes them slippery and chewier — and with their ability to absorb 10-12 times their weight in water, these seeds can keep your stomach feeling full long after you’ve eaten them. They pack a mean punch when it comes to consolidated nutrients per serving, providing good fats, protein, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.
Chia Seed Nutrients: Protein, Omega-3 fats, antioxidants, Zinc, Potassium, Calcium, Manganese, Magnesium, Vitamins B1, B2, & B3, and Phosphorus.
How to Eat Them: Add to smoothies, porridges, oatmeal, or puddings. Soak them in fresh juice. Sprinkle on salads, yogurt, cereal, stir fries, rice, and vegetable side dishes.
Flax seeds are very similar to chia in terms of their nutritional quality, but they do not develop the same texture when added to liquids. They too can make you feel full for longer, which can help suppress your appetite and promote weight loss. High in heart-healthy fats and fiber, flax seeds also stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation, making them an excellent post-work out recovery food.
Flax Seed Nutrients: Fiber, ALA Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and antioxidants.
How to Eat Them: You need to grind your flax seeds prior to consumption — a coffee grinder or food processor works well. If you consume the seeds in their whole state, your body won’t be able to digest them properly and you’ll miss out on the full nutritional benefits. Once you’ve ground your flax seed into meal, add it to smoothies, shakes, yogurt, hot or cold cereal, and baked goods.
These tiny seeds have the ability to lower bad cholesterol while promoting healthy hair and skin. Hemp has all 9 essential amino acids, the building blocks your body needs to create complete proteins. Curious about the taste? Hemp seeds actually taste similar to pine nuts or sunflower seeds. And don’t worry about hemp’s relation to marijuana — hemp contains no THC, the chemical responsible for marijuana’s effects.
Hemp seed nutrients: Protein, fiber, Omgea-3 & 6 fatty acids, all 9 essential amino acids, and phytosterols (which lower cholesterol).
How to Eat Them: Add hemp seeds to smoothies, salads, cereal, baked goods, and even pasta dishes
One of the more commonly recognized edible seeds, sunflower seeds have been a popular snack for decades. High in vitamins, these seeds help keep your skin and hair healthy. Sunflower seeds also give your immune system a boost.
Sunflower Seed Nutrients: B Vitamins, E Vitamins, protein, and Omega-3 fatty acids.
How to Eat Them: Sunflower seeds can be eaten raw as a snack, or use them to top salads and stir fry dishes. They also make a great addition to trail mix and baked goods.
Pumpkin seeds- a common fall treat- contain tryptophans, essential amino acids that are the building blocks of serotonin. Increased levels of serotonin in your brain make you feel happier, providing a natural mood boost and lowering anxiety.
Pumpkin Seed Nutrients: Vitamin B, Zinc, Magnesium, protein, Omega-3s, and highly concentrated tryptophans.
How to Eat Them: Add pumpkin seeds to baked goods, use as a garnish, or roast them.
What are your favorite ways to add seeds to your meals and snacks? Share below!