DESIGN YOUR MEALS
SMART HEALTHY EATING
Six Seeds Pack a Healthy Punch
By Jane Dummer, RD
Did you know that nine out of every 10 bites of food we eat today start with a seed?
In my new book, The Need for Seeds – How to Make Seeds an Everyday Food in your Healthy Diet, I discuss the numerous health and nutritional benefits of seeds. Let’s explore my favorite six seeds that pack a healthy punch!
Six Seeds Pack a Healthy Punch
Chia seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and can be eaten raw as whole seeds. They have fiber (both soluble and insoluble), antioxidants and an essential omega-3 fat called alpha-linoleic acid (ALA).
Insoluble fiber provides bulk in the gastrointestinal tract, increases transit time and helps keep you “regular.”
Soluble or viscous fiber and ALA help promote heart health by lowering bad cholesterol in the body. Antioxidants promote immune health and decrease substances in the body that cause cells to become inflamed.
Add a teaspoon of chia seeds in Greek yogurt for breakfast or on your salad at lunch.
Remember, when water is added to chia seeds they become mucilaginous, which is a fancy word for gel-forming.
The chia seeds can swell rapidly and create a pudding-like texture, so don’t wait too long to enjoy your yogurt or salad!
Whole flax seeds have a crunchy texture and a mild, nutty flavor. Nutrient-rich and are known for their omega-3 fat ALA, fiber content and lignan compounds.
From lowering cholesterol to anti-inflammatory effects, this seed can play a starring role in your health.
In addition to the heart-healthy omega-3 fats, flax also contains both soluble and insoluble fiber and lignans (compounds that have been shown to help protect against certain kinds of cancers by blocking tumor formation) that contribute to overall health.
Ground flax seed is a great addition to meatloaf and meatballs.
Ground flax seed can be used in the coating for chicken or fish (triple the omega-3 fats!).
Keep in mind that grinding the flaxseeds breaks down the hard hull so you get their full nutritional benefit.
Hemp seeds have a slightly nutty flavor and aroma, and a creamy texture.
In addition to their protein content and optimal ratio of omega-6 fats to omega-3 fats, hemp seeds are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Research shows that all this hemp seed nutrition has the potential to promote human health, including acting as an anti-inflammatory, which is a factor in decreasing the risk for many chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
After my early morning power walks, I love adding hemp seeds to a Greek yogurt, almond, mango and blueberry smoothie. You will find the recipe in my book.
Shelled sunflower seeds have a mild, nutty taste and a firm but tender texture. They contain high amounts of vitamin E and the mineral selenium.
Vitamin E is a type of antioxidant that combats oxidative stress. Selenium also combats oxidative stress and promotes both skin and hair health.
Sunflower seeds are a good source of magnesium, zinc, protein and fiber, and also contain phytosterols, which promote heart health.
If you’re like me and love some crunch, add 2 teaspoons of sunflower seeds to your favorite tuna, chicken or turkey salad recipe.
Pumpkin seeds have a chewy, slightly crunchy texture and a subtly sweet, nutty flavor and packed with protein, magnesium and zinc.
Their fat profile is made up of over 80% unsaturated fats that promote heart health. About 50% is made of linoleic acid, an omega-6 fat which is essential for cells and vitamin D synthesis.
Magnesium promotes bone health, stabilizes heart rhythms and promotes immune health. Zinc promotes healing and skin health.
Grind ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds with fresh garlic, parsley and cilantro leaves; mix with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice for a tasty salad dressing.
Sesame seeds offer a nutty taste and a delicate, almost invisible, crunch and contain up to 55% fat and up to 25% protein, depending on the variety.
Although high in fat, sesame seeds are mostly composed of healthy fats. They contain high amounts of antioxidants and vitamin E. In addition to antioxidants, they also contain polyphenols, phytosterols and lignans (sesamin and sesamolin) that act as anti-inflammatory agents to promote heart and immune health.
Sprinkle ¼ cup of sesame seeds on a vegetable stir-fry for extra protein and vitamin E.
Choosing nutritious foods including seeds to energize our bodies is an important piece of my mind-body healthy lifestyle equation: Energy = Food + Fitness + Sleep.
Just remember, seeds are nutrient- and calorie-dense, so don’t overdo it! Punch up your nutrition with one portion daily, which is equal to 1 ounce or 2 to 3 tablespoons. Six seeds pack a healthy punch, and it’s easy to add them to your diet.
As Robert Louis Stephenson once said, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.”
About Jane Dummer, RD
Jane Dummer, RD (janedummer.com), is a leading Dietitian across North America.
An entrepreneur, food consultant, author, and speaker, Jane believes in partnering with people and organizations to assist them to grow with nutrition from the pod to the plate.
As go-to media contact, Jane has conducted over 75 interviews via print, radio and television. Jane is a contributor to Huffington Post, Bakers Journal, Barley Balance, MOST, and to her own Grow with Nutrition Blog. For over a decade, Jane has been working with corporations implementing successful workplace wellness solutions. Jane is a member of the College of Dietitians of Ontario, and Dietitians of Canada.
Jane has served on Scientific Advisory Boards for Danone Canada and the Canadian Foundation of Dietetic Research.
Jane’s book, The Need for Seeds: How to Make Seeds an Everyday Food in Your Healthy Diet may be found here on Amazon.
Small seeds that pack optimal nutrition have turned out to be the latest nourishing must-haves for your healthy lifestyle. Packed with essential nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and fats including omega-3s, these tiny seeds pack a healthy punch.
Jane Dummer, RD, a leading dietitian across North America. She has helped many clients make seeds an everyday food in their diet.
Seeds are ideal for people to optimize their nutrition, plus they’re a delicious addition for individuals following specialized diets.
Jane has picked 21 of her favorite, simple and flavorful seed recipes for you to sow into your healthy diet. Recipes include:
- Blueberry Mango Hemp Seed Smoothie
- Overnight Chia Seed Pudding
- Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
- Quinoa Salad with Summer Peas and Watermelon
- Sunflower Seed Butter
- Flax Seed Cocoa Lentil Bars
With easy-to-follow healthy lifestyle advice and recipes, you’ll learn how to apply this information on a daily basis whether you’re following a gluten-free diet, Paleo diet, or wanting to add more plant based foods to your diet.
Check out The Need for Seeds today for a healthier, more energetic and fitter you!
How do you design your meals? Let us know how you pack a punch with these tiny healthy seeds. Share your recipes with us! Thanks so much.
Sources (Partial list)
Vuksan V, Whitham D, Sievenpiper JL, Jenkins AL, Rogovik AL, et al. Supplementation of Conventional Therapy With the Novel Grain Salba (Salvia hispanica L.) Improves Major and Emerging Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2007;30(11):2804-2810.
Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Vidgen E, Agarwal S, Rao AV, et al. Health aspects of partially defatted flaxseed, including effects on serum lipids, oxidative measures, and ex vivo androgen and progestin activity: a controlled crossover trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69(3):395-402
Rodriguez-Leyva D, Pierce GN. The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2010;7(32).
Yadav M, Jain S, Tomar R, Prasad GBKS, Yadav H. Medicinal and biological potential of pumpkin: an updated review. Nutr Res Rev. 2010;23:184-190.