I’m a huge fan of nuts, but they shouldn’t get all the glory. Seeds are also delicious little nuggets of nutrition you can easily incorporate into your diet. They’re highly sprinkle-able on salads, snack-able on their own, and mash-able so you can use them in place of nut butters and other dip-like things. Each seed brings its own unique flavor and nutrition profile and adding a few servings to your menu equals more fiber, vitamins, good fats, protein and minerals your body needs to function well.
Here are some of the most nutritious seeds you can eat. Give them a try and 1up your health like you’re playing Mario Brothers in 1992.
Don’t worry–you’re not going to get a buzz if you eat these seeds. They’re the THC-free seeds of the hemp plant, which is one type of cannabis plant. They taste great, and they bring a great balance of healthy omega oils, 10 essential amino acids, and tons of protein and fiber. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’ll be pleased to know that these little seeds give you a dose of complete protein.
How to eat hemp seeds: Sprinkle them on your salads, top your oatmeal, stir into yogurt, add to smoothies or just enjoy their naturally nutty flavor on their own!
From everybody’s favorite smile-inducing flower, these seeds are very rich in folate, which is an important nutrient for a healthy pregnancy. They’re packed with good fats and antioxidant vitamin E, which is great for healthy skin and hair. Sunflower seeds are also known to support healthy weight management.
How to eat sunflower seeds: Skip the highly salted and seasoned ones you find in packages at the convenience store and sprinkle some raw organic ones on your salad or add them to homemade trail mix. Or, try them in place of pine nuts in your next batch of pesto! Soak them first to make them easier to mash in your food chopper. This also makes their nutrients more easily absorbed by your body.
There’s not much in the food world I enjoy more than the unique, rich flavor of sesame. These little seeds are high in calcium (great news for people who avoid dairy), magnesium, zinc, fiber, iron, vitamin B1 and phosphorous. They’re known to be helpful in lowering blood pressure and protecting your liver from damage.
How to eat sesame seeds: Sprinkle them on your net stir-fry or salad, or enjoy them in paste form as tahini, one of the essential components of a delicious hummus recipe.
When you’re scooping out your pumpkin come October, be sure to save the little power houses of nutrition hiding inside all that orange goop. Pumpkin seeds are high in carotenoids, an antioxidant known to help strengthen your immune system and disease-fighting powers. They’re also high in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and a little something you may have heard of called tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid known to help lower anxiety (also credited with giving you that pleasantly satisfied feeling after you’ve eaten your holiday turkey).
How to eat pumpkin seeds: Top your salad with some raw ones, sprinkle them on a warm bowl of your favorite spicy autumn soup, or roast them with the seasonings of your choice.
These little mahogany guys are a great source of soluble fiber. What’s great about this kind of fiber? It attracts water and forms a gel that slows down your digestion and makes you feel full, which supports healthy weight management. It can also help lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. On top of that, flax seeds contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which support optimal functioning of your brain and eyes.
How to eat flax seeds: To enjoy the full nutritional benefit of flax seeds, you have to eat them in ground up form or your body can’t absorb them. You can buy them already ground in the grocery store, or you can use your coffee grinder. Try adding ground flax seeds to your smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal or baking. Vegans often use ground flax mixed with water in place of eggs in baking because the resulting gel texture makes a great binder.
On a final note: Eating this seeds in raw, organic form is the best way to enjoy their maximum nutritional benefits, but roasting or toasting them with your favorite spices can enhance their flavors when you want to keep things interesting.
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