EAT MORE SEEDS
Sometimes I feel like a bird watcher when I look into my crossbody bag and see a pouch of seeds floating around in my purse.
These little babies pack one hell of a nutritional punch for their tiny size. They are full of dietary fiber, are a great source of healthy fats, and offer a variety of minerals.
The best part is, I don’t have to eat a fist full of seeds to reap the nutritional rewards. A couple of tablespoons a day will do.
After I sell you on all their admirable nutritional qualities I’ll share five of my favorite recipes that are packed full of seeds.
health benefits of eating seeds
There are three macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, and protein. By weight seeds on average is more than 50% fat.
Fats are essential to any healthy diet. They help to balance blood sugar, are a long-term source of energy for your body, and unsaturated fats can help lower LDL cholesterol.
However, not all fats are created equal. The type of fats in seeds is an important part of this conversation.
Seeds are one of the many plant-based foods that have zero trans fat (yay!). Instead, they are a wonderful source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. If you want to learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of certain fats make sure to look at my post in the Nutrition Basics on Fats.
The bottom line is that seeds are full of good fats. Because of their high-fat content, they are also susceptible to oxidation. Oxidation of fats occurs when they are exposed to heat, air, and light. This is why I store my seeds in a cool dark place. Better yet keep those babies in your fridge or freezer to prolong their shelf life.
Seeds are also a moderate source of protein. This is the second most prevalent macronutrient found in seeds. Sneaking a few seeds on top of a salad, in a smoothie, or mixed in with your oatmeal can quickly elevate the amount of protein in a meal.
high in fiber
This is one of my favorite reason to eat chia seeds. Two tablespoons of chia seeds almost equal half of the recommended daily value of dietary fiber. That’s just two spoons of seeds! Dietary fiber is severely lacking in the standard American diet. Seeds are an easy way to increase your fiber intake.
Seeds are virtually the beginning of all life in the plant world. Each seed has a different nutrient profile that has a variety of minerals. Here is a breakdown of mineral content in six of my favorite seeds.
1 ounce of the following seeds have the following daily recommended value of nutrients
vitamin E 47%
thiamin (B1) 28%
thiamin (B1) 31%
vitamin K 18%
Sunflower seeds make me nostalgic for MLB games and are a favorite summer snack. Unfortunately, most commercial bags of sunflower seeds are covered in salt and a handful of those will pass your recommended daily value of sodium for the day.
When purchasing sunflower seeds look for raw unsalted varieties. Your blood pressure and kidneys will thank you.
Pumpkin seeds are without a doubt my favorite salad topper. Something about these green crunchy raw seeds adds a satisfying bite to a lackluster salad.
They are very calorically dense, only two tablespoons of pumpkin seeds amount to 747 calories, no wonder they make my salads seem more satisfying. Don’t be afraid of the calorie count, they are loaded with healthy unsaturated fats. Just remember – everything in moderation.
Sesame seeds are staples in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Toasted sesame seeds are grounded into a perfect paste called tahini which is the base of hummus. Hummus is an absolute staple in my kitchen. You could call me obsessed.
Tahini is also a great base for quick dressings, can be a thickener to sauces, and did I mention you need tahini to make hummus? Ok, redundant.
Hemp seeds or ‘hemp hearts’ are packed with protein, fiber, and are a good source of iron. Random fact: they are largely grown in Canada (#I’mmarriedtoaCanadian).
Hemp seeds also make a great vegan seed milk. If I forget to soak almonds, I always have hemp in my fridge, they are easy to grab to make a quick vegan milk.
My favorite way to get in fiber, omega-3’s, and a healthy dose of manganese comes in the form of chia seeds. Chia seeds are a great base for puddings, make a refreshing drink on a hot day, and can be added to smoothies without your taste buds noticing. Although they could be consumed in their dry raw form it’s best to soak them before consumption.
Chai seeds are covered in micro-fibers that can hold nine times their weight in liquid. After soaking these tiny dry seeds they will develop an outer slimy layer that is great at imitating tapioca. At the end of this article, I’ll give you my favorite chocolate chia pudding recipe.
Flax seeds are sold in several forms. You can find them preground, cold-pressed into supplements and capsules, and mixed into protein powders. I’m going to beg you to avoid most of these varieties. Flax seeds have a perfect casing that preserves the polyunsaturated fats in their interior. As soon as flax seeds are ground the oils are exposed to heat, air, and light. Thus, creating a greater chance for the oils to oxidize and go rancid.
If you decide to buy pre-ground flax or flax oil, choose varieties from the refrigerated section and make sure it’s in a dark or opaque bottle.
The best option is to purchase them whole and grind them right before consumption. I like to soak my flax seeds overnight, then I grind them in my blender for my morning smoothie.
how to eat more seeds
Even though seeds are nutritionally dense they also are high in calories and should be consumed in moderation. A tablespoon here and there is plenty. Topping salads, adding them to smoothies, and baking them into bread are easy ways to eat a dose of seeds.
I’m going to leave you with ten recipes that feature these seeds. I would love to hear how you eat seeds – let me know in the comments below so I can try out some of your favorite recipes!