SEEDS AREN’T JUST FOR PLANTING… THEY ARE FOR EATING TOO!
Look no further, the next big trend in healthy eating is here…and it’s seeds!
Seeds have a surprising amount of power when it comes to eating healthy and keeping you in excellent shape. Because seeds are the “eggs” that contain the nutrients needed to nourish the growth of a new plant, they really pack a nutritional punch.
We generally demote these nutritional wonders to the occasional standalone snack rather than making them staples of our diet, and weaving them into the existing meals and on-the-go snacks we’re already consuming. Seeds are a wonderful source of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats and sprinkling just a little into existing salads, hummus plates, and yogurt cups delivers all the benefits. However, their high fat content means we need to limit seed intake. Recommended dietary intake for an adult is about four ounces of nuts, seeds or soy products a week. Michelle Gorman, nutrition expert and registered dietitian at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, has more than 16 years experience in the healthy living business. She recommends incorporating the following six seeds into your meals and snacks—they’re full of vitamins and fiber, which will aid your efforts to live a healthier lifestyle:
1. Hemp is a complete protein and contains all nine essential amino acids, making is a great choice for vegetarians. Most people simply sprinkle it in shakes or smoothies, or toss a few of the seeds over fruit or a yogurt parfait. Hemp is also a tasty treat with hummus.
2. Wheat germ is high in folate, which is key for women of child-bearing age to fight off risks of birth defects such as spina bifida. Wheat germ can also be found in lots of yummy cereals such as granola, and is also tasty in cottage cheese. And don’t forget popcorn – who doesn’t love a good batch of all-natural popcorn with a few dashes of wheat germ (of course without the butter or salt).
3. Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E and often act as an antioxidant, fighting off wrinkles. Who knew sunflower seeds could perform such an anti-aging trick? Sunflower seeds also help lower cholesterol levels and fight heart disease, and are delicious when sprinkled on chicken salad!
4. Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols and help reduce bad cholesterol. These seeds are loaded with the good, healthy fats, and are a great addition to just about any salad out there.
5. Flax seeds are extremely high in fiber and reduce constipation and bloating. They are also high in omega-3 but don’t forget to grind them to maximize their nutritional value!
6. Chia seeds are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, and they have among the highest antioxidant activity of any whole food—even more than fresh blueberries. They also help keep the blood pressure and blood sugar under control. And surprisingly, chia is a great addition to stews and soups.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and try new ways to incorporate these nutritional powerhouses into your diet!
Michelle Gorman is a nutrition expert and registered dietitian at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
*Please note this is general information only, and is not intended to take the place of your health care provider’s independent medical judgment. You should consult with your health care provider regarding your individual health care needs.