The Amazing Health Benefits of Seeds
Some of the healthiest foods we can eat are also some of the smallest, often forgotten foods. I am talking about seeds. When people think of snacking they often reach for chips or candy. They should be reaching for seeds or nuts instead. We have already talked about how wonderful nuts are for you, so today we will talk about seeds. Every week at the store I buy sunflower seeds and almonds. These nutritional powerhouses are the "go to" snacks at my house. A little bit goes a long way towards benefiting your body and keeping you full.
A seed is the part of a plant that holds the embryo of the plant. This embryo is what will make a future plant, so it makes sense that this is where the best nutrition is. As it is in nature, the plant wants to reproduce as best it can, so it puts all its best things into that embryo. When we eat those seeds, we get the most benefit from that plant. Here are the top five seeds we should all be incorporating into our diets.
1. Flaxseed -Flaxseed is a wonderful source of Omega-3 essential fatty acid, lignans and fiber. In case you haven't heard of lignans, they are a natural chemical found in plants that has a cholesterol lowering effect on humans. Flaxseed has some of the highest amounts of lignans of all foods. Flaxseed protects our bodies from many cancers, particularly breast, prostate and colon. The antioxidants in flax seed also help protect against heart disease and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.
2. Sesame seeds are high in many minerals such as copper, manganese, tryptophan, magnesium and calcium. Sesame seeds are also high in iron, zinc, vitamin B1, phosphorus, and vitamin E. Sesame seeds are shown to reduce migraines, lower blood pressure and reduce bone loss.
3. Pumpkin seeds are one of the most commonly eaten seeds, especially in the fall. Everyone should make more of an effort to eat them year round though as they are very good for us. Pumpkin seeds are a natural source of carbohydrates, amino acids and unsaturated fatty acid. Pumpkin seeds have many B vitamins as well as vitamins C, D, E and K. These seeds also contain minerals, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. Pumpkin seeds are shown to help battle depression, and treat prostate and bladder problems. Most people eat these seeds roasted buy heat will destroy many of the good qualities in pumpkin seeds. Try eating them raw instead for more nutritional benefits.
4. Sunflower seeds are the seed that most people eat. According to the National Sunflower Association, sunflowers are considered functional foods, which provide benefits beyond basic nutrition. So on top of providing vitamins and minerals to our bodies they also may reduce certain illnesses or prevent certain diseases. It sounds to me like all seeds are "functional foods". Sunflower seeds contain high levels of vitamin E, which has been shown to reduce blood pressure and help our skin. Sunflower seeds also contain many lignans, choline, phenolic acids and betaine.
5. Quinoa is the last seed I want to talk about. If you haven't heard of it, that's OK. While it has been around forever it seems that the nutritional benefits are just being discovered. As gluten allergies are becoming more prevalent more and more companies are trying to find alternatives to grains that many people can't tolerate. Quinoa does the job. Quinoa is grain like but it is really a seed related to the spinach family. The great thing about quinoa is that it is a complete protein, so for those people who are vegetarians or vegans this is a great food to add to your diet. Quinoa also contains magnesium, manganese and copper (antioxidants) as well as fiber. Quinoa may treat and prevent breast cancer, diabetes and insulin resistance. Quinoa is one of the most complete foods available.
I hope I have convinced you to start including more seeds in your diet. They are just too good for us to pass up.