It’s precisely because of its high energy and nutrient density that seeds are good for us. So what exactly are the health benefits of seeds?
The majority of seeds contain a variety of B vitamins, proteins, fiber and minerals that are essential in maintaining wellness. A recent study suggests that consumption of edible seeds can enhance the “management of obesity and other inflammatory diseases.”
Because seeds are such a complete and nutritional food, you don’t need to eat that many to reap the benefits. One or two tablespoons of edible seeds per day are usually sufficient.
Common Edible Seeds
One of the oldest cultivated oil-crops, sesame seeds are a staple condiment across Asia and the Middle East. They are rich in fatty acids and protein, and a significant source of minerals such as copper, manganese and calcium. They also contain cholesterol-lowering fibers called lignans.
Sunflower seeds have anti-inflammatory effects and are rich in unsaturated fats, which in moderation can improve heart health. They contain significant amounts of vitamin E, which is great for skin and hair, as well as fiber that is essential to our diets. They also contribute B vitamins and folic acid, which are especially beneficial to women during pregnancy.
Flax seeds are high in fats such as essential omega-3 fatty acids, which can improve heart health and lower blood pressure. They are also high in antioxidants, protein and essential minerals, and contain significant levels of insoluble fiber that can promote a bowel movement.
Pumpkin seeds contain high levels of protein, which makes them an ideal workout snack. They also have significant levels of fiber and healthy unsaturated fats, as well as minerals such as magnesium, potassium and iron that are all vital for our health. Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, which can be valuable to men in boosting testosterone and promoting prostate health.
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Historically used for fiber production and known for a drug variety, hemp is a multipurpose plant whose seeds produce oil that is high in fiber and rich in omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. Hemp seeds provide a thorough range of nine essential amino acids, and a source of vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
A 2020 study found that hempseed oil contains another essential fatty acid called linolenic acid. It cited that linolenic acid “has been said to have significantly positive effects on the heart health, tumor growth, breast cancer as well as mental disorders.”
Seed butters are a great alternative to regular dairy or nut butters. Here is a list of some of the most common seed butters.
Tahini is an ingredient found in many traditional dishes from the Mediterranean all the way to Asia. Its ancient origins stretch back as far as the 13th century. Tahini is a paste prepared from ground sesame seeds. It can be quite bitter and is often used as the creamy base for chickpea hummus. It’s also good in sweets like homemade ice cream, brownies and cookies.
Sunflower seed butter can be used in place of peanut butter for those with peanut allergies. It significantly contains less fat than peanut butter, so is suitable for those on a calorie-restricted diet.
Pumpkin seed butter has a greenish color that could be off-putting to some people, but it has a mellow earthy taste and numerous health benefits. A tablespoon of pumpkin seed butter contains about 5 grams of protein. It’s a source of vitamin K, which is beneficial to bone health and aids in blood clotting.
You can buy seed butter in many supermarkets or easily make your own if you have a high-powered blender. Producing your own seed butter allows you the freedom to experiment with flavors and discover which ones you prefer. Try lightly toasting the seeds to bring out the flavor. If they are too bitter for you, add maple syrup or salt to enhance the taste. You can also save money by using the seeds that are cheaply available.
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