The Scoop on Seeds
Add seeds to your snacks and meals for a nutritional treat that’s packed with benefits.
By: Ellen Neuborne
Nuts and seeds are good sources of nutrients that provide your body with complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and fiber. Some also contain minerals such as magnesium and zinc. Some studies suggest that seeds can help maintain good health by keeping cholesterol levels in check and protecting against diseases, according to the North American Vegetarian Society.
It’s also easy to include them into your everyday diet. Here are some of the most talked-about seeds and how you can enjoy them in meals and snacks.
1. Flax Seeds
This seed is high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids and phytochemicals called lignans. According to the Mayo Clinic, flaxseed is often used to aid digestion. Some research suggests it may also lower total blood cholesterol as well as LDL (so-called “bad”) cholesterol levels — helping reduce the risk of heart disease.
Ways to enjoy: Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed into hot or cold breakfast cereal, mix a tablespoon into yogurt or a teaspoon into mayonnaise or mustard when making a sandwich. You can also bake ground flaxseed into cookies and other baked goods.
2. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are known for their high fiber content. They are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids and also contain protein and minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, some early research suggests chia seeds may help lower cholesterol and guard against heart disease.
Ways to enjoy: Chia seeds can be eaten raw or prepared in a number of dishes. They can be sprinkled ground or whole on cereal, rice or vegetables.
3. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. They have attracted the attention of food manufacturers and are showing up in a variety of packaged foods such as cereal, cookies and snack bars.
Ways to enjoy: From topping salads to mixing into pudding, hemp seeds can be enjoyed in a variety of waves. Try adding to a scoop to mashed potatoes or pasta sauce.
4. Sunflower Seeds
This familiar snack is the seed richest in Vitamin E. It’s a seed that can be eaten by the handful — about 300 make up a 1-oz. serving.
Ways to enjoy: Sprinkle atop salads or add in to your favorite ground meat patty.