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Health

The 6 Healthiest Seeds, According to Dietitians

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The seeds may seem small, but they offer powerful health benefits. These nutritional powerhouses contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, proteins, beneficial fats, antioxidants and other bioactive substances that protect your health. And because they’re tiny, it’s easy to add a pinch of seeds to virtually any dish or snack. It’s no wonder seeds are all the rage right now.

Here are some of the best seeds to add to your menu, details on what makes them so special, and some fun ways to incorporate them into your daily meals.

What is the #1 healthiest seed?

Pumpkin seeds

While all the seeds on this list are healthy, pumpkin seeds are truly a super seed because they benefit the body in so many ways. A one-ounce serving of unsalted pumpkin seeds contains:

  • 160 calories
  • 8 grams of protein
  • 14 grams of fat
  • 4 grams of carbohydrates
  • 2 grams of fiber

Additionally, pumpkin seeds provide 18% of the daily value of zinc, a mineral essential for immunity, wound healing, and overall skin health. Crunchy pumpkin seeds also stand out as one of the main sources of plant-based iron; one serving provides 13% of your daily value for this mineral. Insufficient iron intake is common among women and children and, for this reason, is considered a nutrient of public health concern in the United States.

Besides iron, a serving of pumpkin seeds contains eight grams of plant-based protein and three grams of fiber. Plus, this superseed provides 37% of your daily goal of magnesium, a mineral that helps regulate the stress hormone cortisol, making you feel more at ease.

Pumpkin seeds are also valued for their plant sterol content. These natural compounds mimic cholesterol, so they compete with cholesterol for absorption, which can help lower your cholesterol levels.

Since pumpkin seeds are larger than many other seed options, they are ideal for snacking. Here are some other ways to benefit:

  • Add them to oatmeal or trail mix
  • Use them to garnish soups or salads
  • Sprinkle them on guac or hummus
  • Place them in the food processor with the cinnamon and pulse until creamy for a fall-inspired pumpkin seed butter.

Other healthy seeds

All seeds are nutritious and tasty; these 5 finalists each have a unique range of vitamins and minerals.

Chia Seeds

These tiny orbs are notable for their ability to hold 12 times their weight in water and their extraordinary amount of fiber. Almost all of the carbs in chia seeds come from fiber, with one ounce providing about 10 grams, or 36 percent of the amount needed daily. They contain soluble fiber, which acts as a “cholesterol magnet,” latching onto circulating plaque particles and helping to escort them out of the body.

Sure, chia seeds provide vitamins and minerals, but they’re also packed with polyphenols and antioxidants. These compounds defend your cells against oxidative stress, a phenomenon linked to disease progression. These seeds also provide ALA omega-3, an anti-inflammatory fat that may protect against heart disease. One study found that consuming just over an ounce of chia seeds daily reduced systolic blood pressure and levels of an inflammatory marker associated with heart disease.

These super seeds have another superpower: they are an excellent plant source of calcium. A one-ounce serving provides 14% of the daily value of this bone-strengthening mineral. If you drink plant-based milk or avoid dairy products, you may be vulnerable to insufficient calcium intake. Chia seeds can therefore help you fill the calcium deficit.

Sun-flower seeds

The little seed is packed with heart-healthy fats, fiber, and folate, one of the B vitamins needed for DNA production and converting carbohydrates into energy.

These snackable seeds earn super seed status due to their abundance of vitamin E, a beneficial nutrient for the skin. One serving of sunflower seeds provides almost 40% of your daily vitamin E and selenium needs. Selenium is a mineral necessary for repairing DNA damage and protecting against oxidative stress. It also has anti-cancer potential through a process called apoptosis, which destroys damaged cells. Meanwhile, selenium is also being studied for its role in both protecting and treating depression.

Plus, creamy sunflower butter is a great alternative to nut butter (which is especially helpful for people with nut allergies).

Sesame seeds

You can think of sesame seeds as a garnish, but they shouldn’t be added as an afterthought. One ounce of sesame seeds provides six grams of protein, three grams of fiber, and about 23 percent of your daily magnesium needs. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is necessary for the regulation of heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, muscle contraction and relaxation, and sleep cycles.

In addition to many other vitamins and minerals, sesame seeds are packed with antioxidants that protect against disease-promoting cell damage. Studies have linked them to blood pressure-lowering effects and cholesterol reduction, and laboratory studies suggest they also have anti-cancer potential.

If you don’t use sesame seeds regularly, try adding more tahini to your diet. This popular hummus ingredient is the ground version of sesame seeds.

Linseed

These small, slightly nutty seeds may be particularly good for your heart. After analyzing data from 15 studies, scientists found that dietary supplementation with various flaxseed products significantly reduced blood pressure levels. Blood pressure is considered an important risk factor for heart disease.

Flaxseed might also help you get more fiber, a nutrient missing in 95% of the human diet. Two tablespoons of flaxseed provides about four grams of fiber, including both soluble and insoluble fiber. Both types are necessary for maintaining bowel regularity and gut health.

Lignans are another bioactive plant compound particularly concentrated in flax seeds; Flaxseeds contain up to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods. Lignans have antioxidant, antitumor, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.

Flaxseeds contain many other vitamins and minerals, including plant-based ALA omega-3s. A two-tablespoon serving contains more than twice the daily value of ALA.

It’s best to use ground flaxseeds rather than whole seeds because whole seeds can pass through your digestive system intact. When not digested, the nutrients in flax may not be available.

Hemp seeds

Just three tablespoons of these little seeds provide 10 grams of plant-based protein to your diet. They also provide about 50% of the magnesium needed daily, as well as a host of other nutrients, including potassium, iron and zinc.

Like some other seeds, hemp seeds are rich in plant-based omega-3 ALA, which has an anti-inflammatory effect that may protect against heart disease and keep your brain healthy. These sweet seeds are also packed with antioxidants and other bioactive substances that strengthen your internal defenses against disease progression.

Since hemp seeds are edible seeds from cannabis (marijuana) plants, you may be wondering if they get you high. This is not the case. The FDA considers hemp seeds safe and says that trace amounts of psychoactive substances naturally found in hemp seeds won’t make you feel bad.

Healthy recipes with seeds

There are many tasty ways to add more seeds to your diet. Here are some of our favorite quick and healthy recipes.


Pumpkin seed pesto

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Chili Roasted Pumpkin Seed Munchies

Kevin Curry

Kid-Approved Seed Cookies with Banana and Maple Syrup

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Nut-free granola bars

Kayla Hoàng

Cold Brewed Chia Pudding

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Hemp and Almond Chocolate Truffles

Shutterstock

Easy Sunflower Seed Banana Bread

Kevin Curry

Unleavened caramel with dark chocolate and sea salt

Nathan Congleton / TODAY



News Source : www.today.com
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