Seeds pack an amazing nutritional punch, providing protein, fatty-acids, phytosterols, minerals, antioxidants and fibre to our diets. They each have their own claim to fame whether it is being highest in omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, copper zinc or magnesium and we should aim to incorporate a spoonful or two into our daily routine.
Hemp is an amazing source of protein. It contains all of the essential amino acids, (those which your body can’t produce on its own to build muscle and create protein). Hemp also contains omega-3 and ALA, essential fatty acids that our bodies don’t produce and which are beneficial to inflammation control, heart health, etc.
Sprinkle these nutty little gems into smoothies, yogurt, salads, or cereal or try hemp protein powder in your smoothie.
Chia seeds are an awesome source of fiber, with an ounce containing almost half your daily fibre intake. These crunchy little seeds are also high in calcium and omega-3 fatty acids, making them good for your bones and heart. These little babies can be taken instead of fibre drinks like Metamucil and impart great health benefits instead of leaving you with a bellyful of artificial sweeteners and colours like those found in Metamucil.
Native to Central America chia seeds are quite flavorless. The people of Mexico add about a Tbsp to an 8 oz glass of water with freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice to make a chia fresca. The seeds become gelatinous and thicken your drink a little, but don’t impart flavor. You can add them to baking or even use them as an egg replacement if you soak 1 Tbsp of seeds in 3 Tbsp water, letting them sit for 10 to 15 minutes, and using to replace 1 egg in baked goods. I love adding them to cereal, oatmeal and smoothies and then crunching the little seeds!
Sesame seeds are very rich in copper, and are a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. Copper is an anti-inflammatory mineral which can be helpful in treating arthritis and cardiovascular disease. Being small like hemp and chia, they can also be sprinkled onto foods like stir-fry’s, salads, cereal, yogurt and smoothies or used in this awesome recipe. Tahini, a paste made of ground sesame, can be spread on bread, crackers or veggies. Tahini is a main ingredient in hummus as well.
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E. Less than half a cup of sunflower seeds provides more than 100 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals which may cause cancer, heart disease and UV damage. Like their counterparts they are a good source of minerals such as magnesium and even selenium.
The first way of eating sunflower seeds that comes to mind is the salted, roasted variety, but those are usually high in salt and MSG, probably not the best delivery system. You can eat them raw, or replace your peanut butter with sun butter as a peanut butter replacement on toast or in baking.
Pumpkin seeds are high in protein, iron, zinc, and magnesium, a mineral that helps stabilize blood pressure, build bone strength, and even reduce stress. As North Americans almost 70% of us are magnesium deficient so we could all use some pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds may play a part in prostate health as well, studies are ongoing.
Pumpkin seeds can be eaten by the handful, used in baking or in one of my favorite recipes along with sesame seeds found here.
Flax seeds were the first seeds to hit superstar status. These tiny seeds are high in fibre and the highest of omega-3 fatty acids. They have fallen from grace since the chia seed hit the market and meets or beats most of the nutrition standards of the flax seed. They are produced in North America and still have lots to offer.
They must be ground to digest or will come out as they came in – as little seeds. Ground flaxseed can be added to smoothies, baking, cereal or yogurt. Flax seed loses none of its omega-3 fatty acids if baked at a temperature of 300 F or lower. Like chia, it can be used as an egg replacement.
I hope I have convinced you of the merits these little powerhouses pack and you will find ways to incorporate them into your daily diet routine. We have a jar on our counter which holds raw pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and mixed nuts, so we can grab a handful on the way by. Try adding a spoonful or two of any of these to your baking, smoothie or salad and remember to mix them up as they all have different nutrients to offer.