If you haven’t heard, tiny seeds are the next big thing in health food. Seeds have been proven to be packed with nutrients – protein, dietary fibre, antioxidants, and the healthier fats you should be eating.
They’re a great choice if you’re looking to increase the plant foods in your diet, maintain or increase protein levels, and increase your heart and overall health. For optimal wellbeing, it’s worth finding ways to reduce or eliminate sugar, salt and fats from your meals, and seeds can be a part of that.
If you’re reading this in the Halifax area, a good place to try a lot of these seeds is at the Bulk Barn, where you can sample in small amounts to your taste before you commit to going full seed.
Loved by people looking to cut down on their grain intake, chia goes into a puddling-like consistency when soaked in fluid. It’s a great substitute for someone looking for a filling, high-protein breakfast alternative. The seeds are gluten-free and are loaded with antioxidants, magnesium and calcium, and lots of fibre – so they’re good for helping control cholesterol.
Very high in omega-3s (the cholesterol-lowering, anti-inflammatory fat), flax may reduce your chances of heart disease, lung disease and certain cancers. It’s also very high in fibre, so if you have digestive problems, your system may struggle to process it.
To get the most out of its nutritional value, try eating flax ground up and sprinkled on other food or salads, so its easier to digest. For the full punch of omega-3, choose flaxseed oil, which you can add to smoothies; in its pure form, it will be refrigerated in the grocery store health food section.
A side-benefit of flaxseed oil, incidentally, is that it’s the best to season cast-iron frying pans. For vegans, ground flaxseed can be used as an egg substitute in baking.
People may wonder about hemp and its legality, but hemp hearts (the shelled hemp seeds) contain no THC and have loads of health benefits. They are packed with magnesium and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are good for your skin. Hemp seeds have more protein per seed than chia or flax. Two tablespoons of hemp seeds will give you about seven grams, the same amount you’d get in two egg whites.
Very high in protein, pumpkin seeds are lower in fibre than some other seeds, so they’re easier to digest for people with digestive issues. Great for throwing in salads or soups, they’re also rich in tryptophan, which can boost your mood and help you get a better night’s sleep.
It’s technically a seed, though it may seem like a grain. Quinoa is protein-packed, high in fibre and amino acids, and as a grain substitute (rice, couscous or corn), it’s low in carbohydrates. Try swapping it in place of rice or oatmeal in your recipes to up your protein intake.
You’ve probably encountered sesame seeds on bagels or in a salad dressing form, but you might not know the seeds are also a great source of protein and minerals like iron, zinc, copper, thiamin, calcium, magnesium and manganese.
One quarter-cup serving of sunflower seeds provides a daily dose of antioxidant vitamin E, which is good for brain health. It also provides a pinch of selenium, which helps boost cognitive function and maintain a healthy immune system.
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