Beauty-boosting, hunger-fighting and energizing – these are just some of the benefits of eating a daily handful of seeds, like sunflower, chia, or pumpkin seeds.
Omega and nutrient-rich seeds are a simple yet delicious way of reducing sugar cravings and looking after your brain and heart – all while giving you glowing skin, healthier hair, and more energy. These seeds are one of the easiest and fastest ways to add nutrients and health benefits to one’s daily health and well-being routine. It takes only a few seconds to quickly scatter some into salads and soups, made into bars and mixed into breakfast cereals to easily boost good fat and nutrient intake. Here are just five out of the many different seeds for you to ‘sprinkle’ into your life:
1. Youthful, healthy skin
How they work…
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E. Vitamin E has powerful antioxidant activity, helping to prevent free radical damage that can cause skin aging. In particular, vitamin E is thought to help protect against sun damage to the skin caused by UV radiation. Sunflower seeds are also an excellent source of B vitamins including folate, which helps to support healthy pregnancy and promotes a healthy immune system.
How to use them: “Sunflower seeds can be eaten by themselves, or in cookie or muffin recipes. Add them to salads, stir-fries and trail mix,” says Remmer. But beware of salted sunflower seeds. The sodium levels in pre-salted seeds are quite high and excessive salt lowers the seeds’ nutritional value.
2. Fitness food
How they work…
Pumpkin seeds are particularly high in protein, containing between 25 and 30g of protein per 100g. Protein is vital for repair and recovery after exercise, as well as building and maintaining muscle. This is not only important for bodybuilders: good muscle tone and recovery are vital for improving your fitness and strength, whatever your goals. The protein in pumpkin seeds is highly concentrated in an amino acid called Tryptophan, which helps lower anxiety levels. For this reason, they have been used to treat some anxiety disorders. Pumpkin seeds also have high levels of essential fatty acids that help keep our blood vessels healthy and lower bad cholesterol.
How to use them: Raw or roasted pumpkin seeds make a healthy snack, or you can use them in baking, cooking, as a soup garnish, and in homemade trail mix or granola. Pumpkin seed oil makes a healthy addition to salad dressings, and dips, however, it’s unadvisable to cook with pumpkin seed oil as heat can destroy its nutritional properties.
3. Bad mood-buster
How they work…
Flax seeds are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 and 6 fats have been found to help balance hormones and support mood. Keeping your hormones on an even keel and your stress levels under control is also important for great skin, especially preventing breakouts. A great source of soluble fibre, flax helps lower cholesterol, makes you feel fuller longer and aids in stabilizing blood sugar levels. Flax seeds are also packed with omega-3 fatty acid, so they’re beneficial to eye and brain health.
How to use them: Flax seed shells are hard, so it’s important to grind the seeds in a blender or coffee grinder before eating them. If you don’t, the seeds can pass through your body undigested, limiting the absorption of the seeds’ valuable omega-3 content. Coarse or finely ground flax seeds can be added to smoothies, shakes, yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, casseroles and baking. Ground flax seed should be kept in an airtight container in your refrigerator.
4. Hunger fighter
How they work…
Chia seeds consist of almost 40% fibre, relative to only 8% in sunflower seeds and 4% in pumpkin seeds! They absorb many times their weight in water and ‘bulk up’, meaning they can help to fill you up for longer. Like other seeds, they’re also a good source of protein and contain calcium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. The calcium and magnesium promote bone and dental health, while the omega-3s help your heart by lowering triglycerides – the bad fats in your blood that can cause coronary artery disease.
How to use them: Never eat the seeds that come with a chia pet. Instead, purchase fresh seeds from a health food store. “Simply add them to a smoothie, yogurt, cereal, muffin recipes or sprinkle on a salad. Chia seeds are also gluten free,” says Remmer.
5. Energy boost
How they work…
Hemp seeds are a great source of magnesium. Magnesium serves many important roles in the body, including supporting energy release from foods and helping to reduce fatigue. Many people may be deficient in magnesium, so we need to get our sources where we can! They also contain lots of fibre that helps with gastrointestinal and heart health. Hemp seeds promote healthy hair and skin growth thanks to their omega-3 and 6 fatty acid content. Omega-3s also reduce inflammation and boost brain and cardiovascular health.
How to use them: Hemp seeds and their oil are both rich in heart healthy polyunsaturated fats. Use them in salads and smoothies. The seeds are also ideal for baked goods, shakes, yogurt and cereal. They’re gluten-free too.
With a whole arsenal of healthy seeds at your disposal, try to incorporate them by sprinkling them into your meals! Introducing them into your children’s snacks and meals will help change things up while making them even more healthy.
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