It’s time we start mimicking our feathered friends – and by that I mean eating seeds. These versatile, nutrient-rich power foods are no longer only for birds! They can easily fit into your everyday diet and help boost your immune system, amp up your energy, protect your heart, and satisfy your hunger.
So Many Seeds to Choose From, So Many Health Benefits to Gain!
Pumpkin Seeds: Also called pepitas, these seeds are rich in magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, tryptophan and iron. They also are a good source of copper, zinc, vitamin K, and phytosterols. The zinc and calcium help protect against osteoporosis, trytophan has shown to be effective against depression, and the phytosterols help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol to fight heart disease. Pumpkin seeds have been used to help treat bladder and prostate problems and are known for their anti-inflammatory benefits.
Roasting pumpkin seeds is a simple and delicious way to enjoy them.
Chia Seeds: These small seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. Loaded with omega-3s, antioxidants, fiber, and protein, chia seeds are an ancient superfood experiencing a huge surge in popularity. Originating in South America, chia seeds were a staple for the Mayans and Aztecs. Studies show that chia seeds also help stabilize blood sugar and can cut you risk for heart disease. Chia seeds can also help with hunger since they swell up when combined with a liquid.
Sprinkle them over your cereal, oatmeal, or even smoothies to add nutrition and texture.
Flax Seeds: These seeds are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids which help fight inflammation and protect our cells against toxins. They are also high in fiber, helping to lower cholesterol, promote proper Gastrointestinal functioning, relieve constipation, and satisfy hunger. The lignans and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) help boost our immune system. Flax seeds are also a rich source of zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin E, and is high in most B vitamins.
Ground flax seeds are great to add to breads, pancakes, smoothies, and yogurt.
Sesame Seeds: These seeds are loaded with copper and maganese, and contain plenty of calcium, phytosterols, magnesium, tryptophan, and iron. Copper is known for its use in reducing some of the pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis, and the phytosterols, like with pumpkin seeds, are heart healthy.
Sesame seed is a common ingredient in various cuisines. Sesame seeds are often added to the tops of buns and breads and used as an oil in cooking and salad dressings.
Sunflower Seeds: These seeds have high contents of Vitamin B1 and selenium, and are very rich in Vitamin E. As the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant, Vitamin E helps protect our cells from damaging free radicals and toxins.
These seeds are commonly eaten as a healthy snack and the kernels may be raw or roasted.
Hemp Seeds: These seeds have also seen a recent surge in popularity and availability. They contain almost all of the essential amino acids and fatty acids needed to maintain healthy human life. Hemp seeds are rich in protein, fiber, and calcium, and therefore are a great way to satisfy hunger and promote bone health.
Hemp seeds can be eaten raw, or ground into other products such as cereals and nut butters. You can also find hemp protein powder. Hemp products can be found at health food stores.
Seeds are a nutrient gold mine since not only are they rich in important nutrients, they’re also relatively inexpensive. In stores, seeds are often sold in bulk – either with their hulls/shells intact or removed. Because of their high fat content seeds are more vulnerable to rancidity, especially when exposed to heat, light, or humidity. Make sure to store in a cool, dry location and they can last for several months.
Easy Ways to Fit Seeds Into Your Everyday Diet:
Seeds are so versatile that they easily fit into any meal or snack for anytime of the day.
1. Use as toppers for baked goods – think sesame bagels, sunflower bread, flax seed muffins
2. Add them to main meals such as pasta and stir-fry or as coatings for chicken, seafood, or beef
3. Use as a salad finisher to give extra crunch, flavor, and texture
4. Use a food processor to grind them into butters and spread on top of whole-wheat bagels, crackers, and breads
5. Top a spoonful onto your oatmeal or Greek yogurt
6. Enjoy them raw or roasted!
7. Add a small handful of seeds to your favorite smoothie
8. Mix with whole-grain cereal, nuts, dried fruit, and/or dark chocolate for a nutrient-rich, satisfying snack!
Be creative- the ideas for eating seeds are limitless! See how else you can incorporate these nutrient-packed, power boosting seeds into your everyday meal plan!
Try this delicious, easy to make, Sunflower Chicken Salad.
Sunflower Chicken Salad
2 cups cubed cooked chicken meat
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
1/3 cup seedless green grapes, halved
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
salt to taste
In a large bowl combine the chicken, sunflower seeds, celery, grapes, mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. Mix all together and serve on whole wheat sandwich thin or lettuce leaves.
Article reprinted with permission by 435 South Magazine written by Mitzi Dulan, RD.