The Amazing Health Benefits of Seeds
Seeds—they're for the birds, right? Sure, but they're also great for you. Whether you're a vegetarian, a vegan or a meat-eater, seeds have a place in your diet. You can eat them in larger quantities as a main course, grind them into butters, or use them in smaller quantities as garnishes for other foods. They're inexpensive, convenient, and tasty. Here's a rundown of some of the most commonly eaten seeds:
- Flax seeds. Flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, zinc, iron, calcium, and Vitamin E, and are a great addition to your diet. Newer food products that may contain them include cereals and crackers, but you can buy plain flax seeds as well. According to the American Dietetic Association, flax seeds must be chewed thoroughly to get the benefits. Since it's difficult to completely chew this small seed, a better option is to grind them in a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder. Once they're ground, you can add them to smoothies, bread dough, baked goods, and hot cereals.
- Pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are chock full of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, tryptophan, and iron. They're also a good source of copper, zinc, and Vitamin K. You can buy prepackaged pumpkin seeds at most supermarkets, or you can make your own. Scoop out the seeds from a pumpkin's inner cavity, rinse them off and dry them, then roast them for the best flavor.
- Sesame seeds. Not just good on bagels or in Asian dishes, sesame seeds can jazz up salads, cereals, and yogurt. This tiny seed is loaded with copper and manganese, and also has plenty of calcium, magnesium, tryptophan, and iron. Toasting sesame seeds really brings out their flavor.
- Sunflower seeds. You can buy these shelled, but it's more fun to buy them whole and crack open the hulls. Sunflower seeds are a tremendous source of Vitamin E and are also rich in Vitamin B1. Try garnishing tuna or chicken salad with sunflower seeds, or sprinkling them on scrambled eggs for a twist.
- Hemp seeds. Commonly thought of as a "hippie" food, hemp has some significant health benefits. Hemp seeds are rich in protein, calcium, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. While hemp contains trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol, one of the compounds found in marijuana , you will not feel any effects by consuming products containing hemp.
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