Big things can come in small packages. Whether you were already aware of it or not, seeds can be your secret weapon to getting your daily dose of healthy fats, protein, and a range of micronutrients.
Let's take a look at 3 super-seeds that are easy to include into your diet and can help improve your health.
Flax Seeds. The OG Superfood.
Known as one of the world's first cultivated superfood, flax seeds have been consumed for around 6,000 years now. Due to their high content of soluble and insoluble fiber, flax seeds have the ability to improve your digestion, lower cholesterol, and promote weight loss. Fiber can help you feel satisfied for longer after eating and can help trap bad fats and cholesterols, making them harder to be absorbed into the digestive system.
Having healthy skin and nails also depends on essential fats as well as b-vitamins—which flax seeds contain high levels of. They are one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids in the world, known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is popular for preventing and treating diseases of the heart and blood vessels. If you are sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease, flax seeds are a great alternative because of their anti-inflammatory properties.
How to eat Flax Seeds
Since flax seeds have a hard outer shell, it can be challenging to eat them whole. It is highly recommended to grind your flax seeds into a power in order for your digestive system to properly receive all the nutrients they have to offer. Instead of having to grind your flax seeds yourself every time you choose to add them to a meal, you can purchase pre-ground flax at the store, making life a little bit easier.
Try adding some ground flax-seeds to a tasty batch of whole grain waffles!
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 3/4 cups skim milk
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup flaxseed meal
- 1/4 cup wheat germ
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Chia Seeds. Small Seeds, Big History.
Originally grown in South America and Mexico, chia seeds have been a dominant player in Mayan and Aztec diets for centuries. They were valued for their nutritional value and medicinal properties and were even used as a currency.
In the Mayan language, chia means strength and was known as runner’s food because just one spoonful of chia could sustain someone for 24 hours. Today, chia seeds are still valued for their health benefits and use in cooking due to their rich source of nutrients and antioxidants. Similar to flaxseeds, chia seeds are high in fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. These small seeds have been linked to promoting healthy skin, building stronger bones and muscles, supporting the heart and digestive system and even reversing diabetes.
How to Eat Chia Seeds
Unlike flaxseeds, chia seeds do not need to be ground in order to obtain their nutrient benefits. Some also choose to soak their chia seeds before eating. Soaking the seeds is known as “sprouting” and releases enzyme inhibitors, which are molecules that bind to an enzyme and decreases its activity, killing pathogens and correcting metabolic imbalances. It also doesn’t hurt to eat chia seeds without sprouting them first.
Get creative and try baking these mouthwatering lemon muffins with honey glaze and substitute chia seeds for poppy seeds!
- 2 large lemons (yielding 1/4 cup zest and 1/3 cup juice)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 cup thick plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup milk or cream
- 3 tablespoons chia seeds
- 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 2 tablespoons honey
Hemp Seeds. Hemp, Hemp, Hooray!
Hemp seeds are extremely nutritious and contain over 30% essential fats. Due to its high content of fatty acids, hemp seed oil has the ability to relieve dry skin, reduce itchiness and improve symptoms of eczema. Hemp seeds are also full of muscle-building amino acids and proteins that you would find in other foods such as meat, eggs, and dairy. The gamma-linolenic acid found in hemp seeds has also been linked with reduced inflammation, which may decrease the risk of certain diseases.Interestingly, heart disease is known as the number one killer worldwide. Hemp seeds or hemp seed oil can help reduce blood pressure and decrease the risk of blood clot formation, both of which can help prevent heart attacks or help the heart recover post heart attack.
How to Eat Hemp Seeds
You can't really derive a lot of nutritional value from the unhulled seeds, so when you see a bag at the store labeled hemp seeds, you're actually buying the soft inner kernels, also known as hemp hearts. Hemp hearts can be pressed to make hemp seed oil, which also leaves behind a byproduct that can be turned into hemp protein powder to add to smoothies or yogurt. Or you can just simply sprinkle hemp hearts on top of your food of choice. You can expect a bag of hemp seeds to last for about a year in the refrigerator or freezer. If you keep a package in your pantry, however, shelf life will be more like 3 to 4 months.
Treat yourself to a delicious hemp superfood smoothie!
- 1 large ripe banana
- Large handful of garden berries or blueberries (frozen)
- 200ml (3/4 cup) of alkaline water
- 1 heaped teaspoon of gelatinized maca powder
- 1 heaped tablespoon of hulled hemp seeds
- ½ teaspoon of moringa powder (or other supergreens)