Many people do not consider nuts or seeds healthy food sources as throughout the years they’ve been somewhat vilified, often referred to as being too high in fat and calories. While it is true that nuts and seeds are high in both, shunning them from your diet for these reasons alone will have you missing out on a wide array of other important nutrients. In fact, nutritional research shows that people who regularly eat 1 to 3 ounces of nuts and/or seeds have a decreased risk of developing heart disease and cancer as well as a lessened severity of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Studies also show that different types of seeds and nuts can actually prevent weight gain and the accumulation of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
I’ve stated multiple times over the benefits of introducing nuts into your diet, particularly those higher in Omega-3‘s, such as the walnut, but we haven’t spent too much time on seeds. Seeds are high in fiber, vitamin E (awesome antioxidant) and monounsaturated fats. Healthy seeds are also great sources of protein, minerals, zinc and other life-enhancing nutrients.
If you are going to add seeds to your diet, I recommend that you eat only organic seeds, in their raw state. Try to avoid irradiated or seeds roasted at high temperatures as we know that heat can destroy the many micronutrients of most foods. Check out these 5 different seeds and begin incorporating into your diet today:
1. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are truly a superfood, as they are packed with an impressive list of nutritional attributes. Perfectly balanced with a three to one omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, they are also an excellent source of gamma linoleic and stearidonic acid. Containing 10 essential amino acids, hemp seeds are composed of over thirty percent pure protein, making them an excellent daily protein source. They are also composed of 40 percent fiber, the highest amount of any grain on earth! Also containing disease-fighting phytosterols, studies show that hemp seeds may prevent heart disease, many forms of cancer, as well as inflammation-based diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
2. Sunflower Seeds
The perfect phytochemical-rich seed for those of us looking to lose weight, as they promote healthy digestion and increase fiber intake. Sunflower seeds are also extremely rich in folate, a very important B vitamin often referred to as folic acid and is especially for women. Sunflower seeds are packed full of good fats, the antioxidant powerhouse Vitamin E, selenium and copper – all of which are crucial elements in preventing heart disease, cancer, and other forms of troublesome cellular damage.
3. Sesame seeds
Traditional societies have touted the positive benefits of this seed for thousands of years. Sesame seeds are very high in calcium, magnesium, zinc, fiber, iron, B1 and phosphorus. This highly praised seed is rather unique in its chemical structure, possessing important cholesterol-fighting fibers known as lignans. Studies show that these seeds can lower blood pressure, as well as protect the liver from damage. Sesame seeds also may help prevent Arthritis, asthma, migraine headaches, menopause, osteoporosis and PMS.
4. Pumpkin Seeds
Some scientific studies have shown that the components of pumpkin seeds may stop the triggering of cancerous behavior in male prostate cells. Pumpkin seeds are high in a form of antioxidant known as carotenoids, a special plant derivative that enhances immune activity and disease fighting capacities. These seeds are also high in omega-3 fatty acids and zinc, two important nutrients that may play a role in warding off inflammation, arthritis and osteoporosis. Additionally, pumpkin seeds are high in phytosterols, plant components that aid in stabilizing cholesterol levels and enhancing immune response.
5. Chia seeds
Yes, just like the seeds you used for sprouting your Chia pet, these seeds are from the mint family. Extremely tiny, yet extremely potent, these small, black seeds are packed full of fiber, protein, powerful fatty acids, various antioxidants and even calcium. Studies show that chia seeds stabilize blood sugar, lowering risk for cardiovascular disease. These amazing little seeds are an excellent source of high-quality fats, as they are made up of a whopping 34% omega-3 fatty acid.
The Benefits of Eating Seeds
I personally love to eat raw seeds and nuts. I eat them on a daily basis and they give me more natural energy than any other food. They’re great if you want a quick, healthy snack or to add additional flavor and texture to salads, veggie dishes and other recipes.