Seeds – What Gives them Super Food Power?
When you hear heart healthy, nuts often come to mind. But, for those who have a nut allergy (such as myself), where to next? My answer to that is in the super food nutrients of seeds. Nuts do offer many heart health benefits. But, this article will focus on a few of my favorite seeds. So, how are seeds packed with super food power? Read on to learn more about these tiny super foods.
Just like nuts, seeds provide a good source of fiber. They are excellent sources of plant based omega-3 fatty acids called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Some seeds, such as hemp, chia and pumpkin provide plant based proteins. In addition to heart health, seeds assist in blood sugar control, weight management and digestive health (yes, even diverticulosis).
What really sets them up as super foods, is the amount of vitamins and minerals in these tiny seeds. Vitamin E is one example that is the highest in sunflower seeds. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and promotes a healthy immune system. It also promotes healthy, youthful skin appearance! Next on the highlight reel, is Magnesium. Which is a power mineral that is an integral part of digestive health. Magnesium aides in the treatment of migraines and headaches.
Super Omega-3 Power of Flax Seeds
Flax seed is a tiny seed that has grown since the beginning of civilization. They have 2 benefits. The outside husk provides fiber while the inside provides the ALA omega-3 fatty acids. To get the best of both, use ground flax seed. The shelf life of whole seeds is up to 1 year. When the seed is ground, the shelf life is reduced as the beneficial oil is exposed. So, use a food processor or coffee grinder to grind the seeds in small batches. Keep in the refrigerator for 2-4 weeks or the freezer for up to 3 month.
Just one Tablespoon of ground flax seed provides 1597mg of omega -3 fatty acids (ALA), 1.9 grams of fiber, 1.3 grams of protein. They also naturally provide B vitamins, Iron, and Magnesium.
Watch the Power of Chia Seeds Expand
“Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia” pet. The pet that grows. Yup, this super food was the seed you watched sprout in the terracotta pet. They have come a long way from watching them grow to now being a power packed seed we eat. Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica, which is related to mint. Like flax seeds, chia seeds have been part of ancient civilization as a sustainable energy source. “Chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.”
Chia seeds absorb water and acts like a gel in food and in the body. They are heart healthy by naturally binding with cholesterol and reduce triglyceride levels in the blood.
Just one ounce (~2 Tablespoons) of chia seeds provides 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (ALA). They are a good source of Calcium and Magnesium, and offer sources of zinc and B vitamins.
Healthy Gut and Mind Power of Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are also known as “pepita” – a Mexican Spanish term. I highly recommend including pumpkin seeds if you suffer from digestive issues, migraines, high blood blood pressure, or low bone density. Pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium. Providing 160 mg of Magnesium per 1/4 cup of roasted pumpkin seeds. That is close to 50% of recommended dietary needs for adult women, 40% for adult men.
A 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds provide ~9 grams of protein, ~2 grams of fiber and unsaturated fat. They also provide Vitamin K, plant based Iron and Zinc.
Super Nutrient Power of Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds, or hemp hearts are used as seeds, oil, powder or milk. They are seeds from the hemp plant. But, they don’t contain THC, the active drug in hemp leaf. The healthy fatty acids in hemp seeds fight inflammation. And, support heart health and the immune system.
Two tablespoons of hemp seeds provide 6 grams of fat from omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Along with to 2 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein. They are a great source of potassium, iron and Vitamin A.
Super Vitamin Power of Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds come from the large flower heads of the sunflower plant. The plants are grown for either the seeds or for oil.
Sunflower seeds provide the highest amount of Vitamin E in 1/4 cup serving size. They provide heart healthy unsaturated fats. And, a good source of fiber. The vitamin and mineral content include B vitamins, Iron, Zinc, Magnesium and Selenium. Vitamin E and selenium function as antioxidants to aide in chronic disease prevention.
How to Incorporate Tiny Super Foods
So, how can you include these seeds that offer super food power. Here are a few ideas:
- Add to cereal, oatmeal, smoothies or salads
- Top off avocado toast with seeds
- Bake ground flax seeds in muffins, bread or cookies
- Make power yogurt bowls or overnight oats with Chia seeds
- Make trail mix
Recipes from my Meal Garden digital recipe collection:
For more recipes or information on seeds and other super foods, contact me below.