Seeds are often overlooked as something to include in your daily diet. However, they should be given more attention - for something so small they sure do pack a punch in the nutrient department.
They are so easy to incorporate into every day recipes too. I like to add a seed mix into my smoothie maker to add a powerful boost. I just grab a few of whichever seeds I have available and add 1 to 2 tbsps. straight in. You will get a smoother blend with one of the high speed smoothie makers rather than the lower powered ones. Unless you like a bit of crunch in your smoothie, in which case any blender will do the job. Seeds can also work well in soup makers.
Seeds are perfect as an 'on the go snack,' they are so simple to transport in a container or snack bag and nibble on as and when you fancy.
Read on to learn about which seeds will give you the most benefits.
Flax seeds are considered one of the biggest sources of omega-3 fatty acids in the world and rank #1 as a source of lignans. Packed with antioxidants, just 1 ounce (3 tbsp) of flax seeds contains fibre, protein, omega-3, vitamins B1 and B6, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc and selenium. They have a high fibre content but are low in carbs so when taken before a meal, the fibre reportedly makes people feel less hungry and consume less food, leading to significant weight loss. The anti-inflammatory properties of flax makes it a great substitute for those who are sensitive to gluten.
A study in the journal of Nutrition and Metabolism states that incorporating flax seeds into your diet naturally reduces cholesterol levels and a research conducted by the Journal of Clinical Cancer Research found that flax seeds aid in decreasing the risk of various types of cancer; including breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Perhaps the biggest advantage of taking flax seeds is that it promotes digestive health. The lining of the digestive tract is protected and combats against countless digestive ailments and gut inflammation.
Hemp seeds are seeds obtained from Cannabis Sativa, the hemp plant and are remarkably nutritious and rich in protein, fats, and other minerals. They have a higher protein content than foods like flax seeds and chia seeds and 30% of the seed is made up of two essential fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6). Gamma-linolenic acid is also found in these, which have been time and time again been linked to different health benefits.
Hemp seeds reduces the risk of heart disease due its high amount of arginine (amino acid) which produces nitric oxide to relax blood vessels, and gamma-linolenic acid. The fatty acids maintain healthy skin and improves dry skin and itchiness as well as soothe skin ailments like eczema.
Women suffering from Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) will benefit immensely from hemp seeds, which decrease the onset of the phenomenon and its side effects like breast pain, irritability, depression and fluid retention. And of course, the soluble and insoluble fibre found in hemp seeds is greatly beneficial for maintaining a healthy digestive system.
The next miracle seed is the pumpkin seed which is abundant in antioxidants and has a wide range of perks which includes boosting immunity and helping insomniacs sleep at night. Zinc is considered an important component for sustaining immunity; The National Institute of Health recommends a daily intake of 8 mg of zinc for women, which a cup of pumpkin seeds almost meets with its 6.59 mg content.
Pumpkin seeds are excellent for maintaining a healthy prostate as well as treats BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia or enlarged prostate.) Phytosterols are protective compounds in the seed which aid in shrinking the prostate. Testosterone is also prevented from transforming into dihydrotestosterone- which contributes to an enlarged prostate. The rich amounts of antioxidants, fibers and healthy fats present in this natural product benefits the liver and health, especially when taken along with flax seeds.
Optimum levels of insulin is regulated with regular intake of pumpkin seeds and diabetic complications are also avoided by decreasing oxidative stress. Serotonin and melatonin are what help us have comfortable sleep cycles. Eating pumpkin seeds along with a carbohydrate like some fruit a couple of hours before retiring to bed will boost the production of the two chemicals and promote a restful night of sleep.
Sesame seeds are one of those rare gifts from nature that have amazing benefits for both inside and outside the body. Utilized for over 5000 years, it is one of the most nutrient dense foods used today. One of the best uses for it is for oral hygiene, boosting oral health and fighting dental plaque. A study showed the reducing effects of sesame seeds on streptococcus bacteria in the mouth.
Its high zinc content sustains collagen in the skin, maintaining its elasticity. Zinc also repairs damaged tissues and promotes beautiful healthy skin. Along with this, the zinc in sesame seeds boosts bone density and keeps bones stronger. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition linked osteoporosis and zinc deficiency in the spine and hip areas. Calcium is another mineral found in sesame seeds, which is essential for healthy bones.
Hypertensive diabetics should incorporate sesame seeds into their diets as the magnesium content lowers blood pressure. Asthma and other respiratory issues are also prevented by magnesium. If you have none of these health issues, sesame seeds should still be ingested as it is perfect for vegetarians, who need to make up for the lack of protein in their diet, giving 4.7 grams of protein per ounce. Sesame seeds also boost digestive health and give relief from constipation.
The seeds of the sunflower can make a dramatic improvement to your health and improve your mood. With their nutty taste and crunchy texture, it is easy to incorporate sunflower seeds into your diet as they are simply delicious. Top your salads, stir them into yogurt, or add them to rice, pasta, or sandwiches, the possibilities are endless. The health benefits are endless too. They play a role in preventing cancer by controlling cell damage due to the high amount of selenium present in them.
Sunflower seeds are also great for the bones as they provide magnesium and copper which are essentials for bones other than calcium. An added bonus is vitamin E that eases pain from arthritis. This vitamin E also brings a glow to your skin and combats harmful ultraviolet rays and protect the skin. Most inflammatory conditions are soothed by the antioxidants present in sunflower seeds, such as gastric ulcers, joint pain, asthma and skin eruptions.
Not only do these seeds make you feel good on the inside, they will also calm you on the outside! Sunflower seeds have a reputation for soothing stress and calming the nerves down, helping you relax. Just by having ¼ cup of sunflower seeds every day, not only will you feel happier, but your heart troubles will also be kept at bay.
Chia seeds are one of the most popular super foods. When prepared properly, they are easy to digest and are very versatile and easy to add to recipes. Mexico based researchers have discovered that Chia seeds had a concentration of antioxidants nearly 2 times higher than other seeds and combats approximately 70% of free radicals. This proves that chia seeds are one of nature's best sources of antioxidants, which repairs skin and prevents premature aging due to harmful free radicals.
Due to their high fibre content, chia promotes healthy stool activity and bowel regularity. People also feel full quicker because of chia seeds because it retains a significant amount of water and bloats up in the stomach when eaten. This is possibly why scientific studies have proven that appetite is curbed because of chia, leading to weight loss. And speaking of weight loss, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning stated that chia seeds improved exercise performance and gives a boost similar to sugar, but of course, without the sugar. Intense jolts felt in the bones due to exercise is also minimized as chia seeds have a calcium content of 18%. Another reason why it is a good addition to diets is because it is one of the best plant-based sources of protein.