Strengthen Your Health with the Super Powers of Seeds - Virtua Article

Strengthen Your Health with the Super Powers of Seeds

By Alexis Newman, RD, Registered Dietitian—Virtua Nutrition

How can something as small as a seed be responsible for the growth of billions of plants on the Earth? It’s because a seed is a small yet mighty nutrient-dense powerhouse for plants—and for anyone who eats them.

While each seed has its own nutrient make up, all of them provide protein, healthy fat, carbohydrates, fiber and a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients (plant-based, health-protective compounds). Read on to discover the seeds that pack the heaviest healthy punch.

The Best Ways to Incorporate Seeds into Your Diet

Seeds are best consumed raw or soaked as the process of roasting them can limit the amount of nutrients your body absorbs. Most seeds have an outer protectant layer that makes them difficult to digest. But, soaking them creates a change in the seeds that allows the body to better absorb their nutrients.

Flax Seeds

Flax seeds provide a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and phytochemicals. Omega-3 fatty acids help decrease internal inflammation and protect the heart from disease. Research has shown that incorporating flax seeds into your diet can help lower blood pressure and blood sugar.

Seed of Wisdom: It’s best to use ground flax seeds to gain the most health benefits. They can be sprinkled in cereals or yogurt or even added to a muffin or bread recipe.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds have been shown to have a positive impact on heart health. They have a rich source of protein, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and iron. They also provide 300 mg of potassium and about 15% of your recommended daily dose of vitamin A.

Seed of Wisdom: Refrigerate hemp seeds to prevent them from becoming rancid.

Chia Seeds

Despite their small size, chia seeds are rich in antioxidants and full of fiber, magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium. They’re also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps raise HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol that helps protect against heart attack and stroke).

Seed of Wisdom: Chia seeds expand and form a gel when they come into contact with liquids. They’re known to help you feel fuller so you eat less. Use them to thicken smoothies, puddings and soups or sprinkle them on salads and pasta. 

Try This Delicious Chia Seed Recipe

Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding
Yield: 1 serving

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1-2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ½-1 cup pumpkin puree
  • optional: extra ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • optional: ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • optional: ¼ cup toasted walnuts

1. Soak chia seeds in almond milk.

2. Use a fork to give it a quick stir or shake it vigorously.

3. Store in the refrigerator overnight. Chia seeds will expand.

4. Mix the rest of the ingredients together and add to the chia mixture.

5. Enjoy!

Recipe by Kim Lam, LettuceBeHealthy.net

Updated February 15, 2017

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