Everyone knows having a salad on a regular basis is good for you. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vegetables for the average adult is three to five servings, after all. If you are going to eat your greens why not add a little something extra to them now and then to boost their flavor and your health? Seeds make a great addition to many dishes especially salads. Read on to learn about the best seeds for your health.
The Fantastic Five
1. Chia Seeds
There’s a whole lot of goodness packed into these tiny seeds that are native to South America. The ancient Aztecs and Mayans relied on them as an important food source providing hydration and sustained energy. Chia is actually the Mayan word for strength. Despite being small chia seeds are mighty with:
- 11 grams of fiber
- 4 grams of protein
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Minerals like calcium, manganese, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus
- Vitamins B3 (niacin), B1 (thiamine) and B2
- The ability to hold twice their weight in liquid
Chia seeds are also loaded with antioxidants, and can help reduce your risk of heart disease, from developing Type 2 Diabetes, promote bone strength and even aid in your weight loss efforts.
2. Hemp Seeds
While hemp seeds are from the same species of the much more famous and notorious cannabis family (aka marijuana) but they only contain trace amounts of THC, the compound that has a drug-like effect. They have been a part of Chinese diets and medicine for the past 3,000 years, so their health benefits have stood the test of time.
Hemp seeds are a great source of two very important nutrients, the fatty acids omega-6 and omega 3. They are also a very good source of protein, vitamin E and minerals like phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. Another nutrient from hemp seeds, amino acid arginine, has been linked to a reduced risk of developing heart disease. These bland looking little seeds have also shown in other studies to decrease inflammation in the body, help reduce blood pressure and decrease your risk of blood clots that can lead to a stroke.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
This year at Halloween when you and the kids carve your Jack-O-Lanterns don’t toss the seeds you scrape out of the pumpkin! They are one of the best seeds for health and wellness.
Indigenous to the Americas (North, South and Central) ancient cultures called the flat green seeds pepitas. In Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and much of India and Asia pumpkin seeds is a dietary staple.
Pumpkin seeds are recommended by the World Health Organization and for good reason. They are a plentiful source of diverse antioxidants like vitamin E, phenolic acids and lignans, compounds linked to helping women reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. Pumpkin seeds also contain a healthy dose of zinc, a mineral essential for healthy red blood cells.
Once you remove the seeds from your pumpkin clean them off and let them dry overnight, then roast them for about 20 minutes at a very low temperature like 160 to 190 degrees for the most flavor.
4. Flax Seeds
If you are looking for one of the best seeds for health, here’s the flax you need to know.
Ancient Babylonians in the 8th century cultivated flaxseed for King Charlemagne who believed strongly in their health benefits. Modern day research has shown consumption of flaxseeds is a good way to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes, according to health authority WebMD.
Plant-based omega-3 fatty acids called ALA, which are abundant in flaxseeds, have been shown to inhibit tumor growth. Like pumpkin seeds they contain lignans that have been linked to decreasing the risk of breast cancer and are potent against reducing inflammation in the body. Eating flaxseeds regularly may also help you keep your cholesterol levels in check and blood sugar levels steady to ward off diabetes.
5. Sunflower Seeds
A sunflower is a tall herbaceous annual plant native to Middle America but has since spread across the globe as a commercial crop in countries like Russian, China, Argentina and the United States.
Sunflower seeds are delicious and crunchy little powerhouses of healthy goodness. Packed with essential fatty acids, high quality amino acids, natural antioxidants like vitamin E and folic acid, just a handful a day will help keep the doctor away. They help lower your LDL levels of cholesterol, and provide essential minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, selenium and copper to keep your bones and red blood cell production strong.
Next time you whip up a salad be sure to sprinkle one of the fantastic five best seeds for health on top and enjoy!