Seed your diet with healthy plant proteins, fibre, and valuable nutrients!
Seeds are embryonic plants protected by a coating. Certainly, early humans ate seeds seasonally. However, today many more seeds can be eaten all year round. Moreover, seeds have wonderful benefits for health. These include abundances of nutrients, healthy fats, and plant protein. Meanwhile, research shows that activating seeds by soaking them makes it easier for our bodies to digest them. Further, we can better absorb nutrients from activated seeds.(1)
Some more significant benefits of eating seeds regularly include stabilising blood sugar and support of weight loss. Seeds can help us fight harmful free radicals which abound in todays world.
Which seeds should you start with? Here are our top ten nutritional picks!
1. Black cumin seeds (nigella seeds)
Black seeds are also called black cumin seed, nigella seed, or many, many other names. A special combination of healing qualities makes them remarkable. Thymoquinone is a plant-based compound that is perhaps the most notable substance in black seeds. Thymoquinone is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-fungal! Cold-pressed black seed oil delivers still more benefits. It is wonderful for the liver. Enjoy it in moderation to make the most of its piquant flavour. Drizzle over soups and salads, or even pasta. Shop Black cumin seed oil here.
2. Chia seeds
Chia seeds have been around since Maya times. They are tiny powerhouses! Chia seed contains all nine amino acids needed to make protein. Additionally, chia seeds deliver strong doses of manganese and magnesium. Further, chia is rich in soluble fibre. This type of fibre helps the microflora in your gut. These in turn help your gut digest other foods to best effect. That is to say, gut health is incredibly important for all-around wellbeing. For an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, turn to chia seed oil. In the same vein, are you looking to complement smoothies and baked goods? So try raw chia powder! Shop chia seed oil here.
3. Fenugreek seeds
Does obtaining 186% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of iron from 100g of seeds sound good to you? How about half the RDA of magnesium? So add fenugreek seeds to your diet! Additionally, these seeds are thought to help you take in carbohydrates.(2) Need more? It is probable that fenugreek helps combat inflammation, which is linked to a host of conditions and diseases.(3) That is to say, no wonder fenugreek is used prominently in alternative and Chinese medicine.
4. Flax seeds
An impressive study looked at two groups of patients with hypertension. One group took a placebo. Meanwhile, the other were given flax seed, without their knowledge. After six months, the group who did not take flax seed had no change in their blood pressure, even though they were on drugs. However, the other group reported a significant lowering of blood pressure.(4) Moreover, flax seed offers fibre, protein, magnesium, and thiamine. Further, like chia seed, flax seed is rich in alpha-linolenic acid. That is to say, this acid supports heart health.(5)(6)
5. Hemp seeds
Hemp seeds have the perfect 3:1 balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. That is to say, getting this ratio right is thought to be central to good health. Moreover, this balance is wonderful for the immune system. Hemp seeds are rich in GLA, or gamma- linolenic acid. This acid is thought to reduce inflammation. Hemp seed oil is especially rich in fatty acids and vitamin E. It has a lovely nutty flavour. Enjoy it in tahini and garlic sauce. You could also blend it with olive oil and drizzle over roasted vegetables. Meanwhile, raw hemp seed powder is a good addition to smoothies.
6. Milk thistle seeds
Silymarin is a group of flavonolignans, or natural acids in plants. Research has supported the detoxifying effects of silymarin on the liver. Milk thistle seeds are rich in silymarin. Folk medicine uses milk thistle seeds to treat liver diseases. Likewise, would you like to try milk thistle oil? It tastes sweetish and delicate, but earthy. Milk thistle oil has essential omega-6 fatty acids and vitamin E. Try to pair it with chia seed oil to get that vital balance of omega-3 and omega-6. Shop Milk thistle oil here.
7. Poppy seeds
Poppy seeds offer you fibre, calcium, manganese, and vitamin E. Not bad! Further, poppy seeds are rich in linoleic acid and oleic acid. Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid. Both of these acids support heart and brain health. Poppy seeds also have a calming effect, thanks to trace amounts of opium alkaloids. This benefits your nervous system and your ability to deal with pains and stresses. In the same vein, try cold-pressed poppy seed in your food or on your skin!
8. Pumpkin seeds
Trytophan is an amino acid beneficial to sleep patterns. Pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, offer stores of trytophan - and much else. That is to say, pumpkin seeds also contain wonderful minerals such as phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium. They are also abundant in healthy fats. The presence of phytosterols, or powerful plant-based chemicals, stands out in pumpkin seeds. Research has looked into the ability of phytosterols to lower bad cholesterol. Moreover, pumpkin seed oil has a plenitude of unsaturated fatty acids. Additionally, selenium and zinc are notable in the oil. In conclusion, pumpkin seed oil is quite strengthening for the immune system.
9. Sesame seeds
Most of us know how essential calcium is to health. Many people still think that dairy products are key for adequate calcium intake. However, consider this: 100g of sesame seeds contain 97% of the RDA of calcium! Sesame seeds also have 87% of the RDA of magnesium. Want more? They offer 14.6 mg of iron per the same 100 grams. You may have enjoyed sesame seed butter without realising. Tahini, a main ingredient in hummus, is sesame seed butter. Sesame flour is also wonderfully versatile.
10. Sunflower seeds
We finish with a perennial favourite. Sunflower seeds help your body fight harmful free radicals in several different ways. For instance, selenium and vitamin E make prominent appearances in sunflower seeds.(7)(8) Further, the plant compounds known as phenolic acids and flavonoids are also found in sunflower seeds. These are also beneficial in warding off toxins.(9) If going for the oil, be sure to opt for cold-pressed sunflower oil rather than refined sunflower oil to obtain maximum benefits.
1. Gupta et al, "Reduction of phytic acid and enhancement of bioavailable micronutrients in food grains", Journal of Food Science and Technology, February 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325021/
2. Neelakantan et al, "Effect of fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum L.) intake on glycemia: a meta-analysis of clinical trials" Nutrition Journal, 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3901758/
3. Vyas et al, "Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of Trigonella foenum- graecum (seed) extract." Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica, July-August 2008, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19051589
4. Rodriguez-Leyva et al, “Potent Antihypertensive Action of Dietary Flaxseed in Hypertensive Patients”, Hypertension, October 2013, https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/hypertensionaha.113.02094
5. Goyal et al, "Flax and flaxseed oil: an ancient medicine & modern functional food", Journal of Food Science and Technology, September 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4152533/
6. Pan et al, "α-Linolenic acid and risk of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, December 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23076616
9. Guo et al, "A review of phytochemistry, metabolite changes, and medicinal uses of the common sunflower seed and sprouts (Helianthus annuus L.)."Chemistry Central Journal, September 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29086881