They’re crunchy, munchy and tasty. They’re what food manufacturers want you to think of when you eat potato chips and pretzels, except these “super seeds” are chock full of health.
They have dietary fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They’re convenient, handy and healthy, plus they pack a lot of that punch in a little package.
In my view, one of the big pluses in favor of super seeds is that you can eat them raw without cooking, which robs our foods of much of their benefits. My opinion is that we should eat as much of our food as possible raw in its natural state, untainted by manhandling in factories and unspoiled by cooking the life out of it.
Different seeds have different credentials to recommend them, so eating a variety of seeds will give you the full spectrum of nutritional values seeds have to offer.
Here are eight of my favorite super seeds I suggest you try…
Chia Seeds: These tiny black and white seeds from a desert plant in Mexico have become very popular on supermarket shelves of late as ingredients in everything from energy bars to cereals to beverages. Chia seeds are nutritional dynamite in a small package, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, dietary fiber, antioxidants and calcium. Just a tablespoon of chia seeds delivers 5 grams of fiber. Ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures ate chia seeds for energy.
Chia is hydrophilic, meaning that it absorbs several times its weight in water. Inside your digestive tract, it swells with body fluids to help fill you up so you may not eat so much. Or you can mix it up with water before you eat it to make a kind of pudding (maybe add some fresh, raw fruit) that helps curb appetite and may aid in losing weight. Vegan bakers use chia gel as a binder in cooking in place of eggs.
Hemp Seeds: Known for being a complete protein source — they’re over 30 percent pure protein — they’re great for your muscles and also helps promote healthy hair and skin. Hemp is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which, when balanced, act as an anti-inflammatory in the body.
The seeds are a type of phytosterol that promotes healthy cholesterol. They also deliver a good dose of magnesium, which improves circulation, blood pressure, hearing and general heart health.
The variety of hemp grown for food production is different from the kind that yields marijuana. The food type of hemp does not contain THC, the ingredient that makes pot smokers high. You won’t get that kind of buzz from eating hemp seeds, and it won’t make you fail a drug test.
Sunflower Seeds: Sunflower seeds offer an inexpensive budget-friendly source of vital nutrients. They deliver unsaturated fats and important minerals like magnesium, copper and manganese. Sunflower seeds are a good source of B vitamins, including folate to boost immunity.
But the main claim to fame for sunflower seeds is that they’re a potent source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that acts as a first line of antioxidant defense against cancer and helps maintain proper function of many organs to protect cells from damage. It helps combat heart disease, high blood pressure, brain and nervous system disorders, cataracts, asthma, peptic ulcers and a host of other maladies.
Pumpkin Seeds: Pumpkin seeds offer iron, zinc, B vitamins, magnesium and protein. They also contain a high concentration of the amino acid tryptophan, a natural tranquilizer which helps lower anxiety when you’re under stress.
Pumpkins seeds are rich in a form of antioxidant known as carotenoids, a special plant derivative that helps boost body immunity and fight diseases.
For men, pumpkin seeds are a must-have because they contain beta-sitosterol, a phytosterol that blocks the conversion of testosterone into a metabolite — helping to prevent prostate enlargement and cancer.
Flax Seeds: A great source of soluble fiber to help lower cholesterol, flax seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acid to boost eye and brain health and help suppress triglycerides. Flax seeds are also high in lignans, a plant-like form of estrogen that may aid in fighting certain cancers like breast cancer.
One thing to know about flax seeds is that they have a hard shell, so you need to grind them in a blender or coffee grinder before using them. If they aren’t ground up, they’ll pass through the body undigested, losing the benefits of the nutrients they contain. Store the ground seeds in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Sesame Seeds: Familiar sprinkles on fast food hamburger buns and bagels, sesame seeds can be used liberally on most anything in your daily menu for a great source of dairy-free calcium to build strong bones and aid muscular functions.
Sesame seeds are rich in copper, necessary for enzyme reactions in the body involved in the production of energy and performance of the nervous system.
They can be used to make sesame paste or tahini, which can be spread on toast or crackers for a tasty treat. In the Middle East, they’re often used to make hummus and falafel.
And here’s a tip from bodybuilders: Look for black sesame seeds, which they believe to be higher in antioxidants than the beige variety we usually see.
Pomegranate Seeds: Pomegranate seeds are loaded with antioxidants to protect your body from free radicals and slow the aging process.
They help fight cancer and improve memory. They’re high in vitamin C and potassium, low in calories and a good source of fiber. Some say pomegranate seeds are a natural aphrodisiac.
A single pomegranate may hold over 600 seeds.
Wheat Germ: This powerhouse super seed explodes with protein, iron and B vitamins like folate. Wheat germ is high in fiber content to prevent constipation and keeps your appetite under control. Wheat germ is low on the glycemic index, so it won’t cause blood sugar spikes.
Wheat germ helps boost your immune system, promotes cardiovascular health, helps prevent cancer and fights aging effects on skin and hair loss.
You can eat super seeds right out of the package or add to your favorite foods for flavor and crunch.
Sprinkle them on salads, baked goods, fish, oatmeal, cereals, pancakes, rice, soups, pasta, yogurt—just about anything edible. Mix them in smoothies. Add them to trail mixes. Use your imagination. There are lots of creative ways to enjoy health-giving seeds. Always eat them raw, never roasted.
This article first appeared in the January 2017 issue of The Bob Livingston Letter™ (subscription required). To subscribe so that you can receive this information as soon as it’s published, go here.
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