It might be all about eating dark leafy greens regularly, or making sure you eat blueberries over your oatmeal every day, but here’s one nutrient-dense food group you’ll likely be overlooking: seeds.
“One of the amazing foods you should eat every day and it probably won’t be seeds! Some great examples include pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, hemp, and poppy.” Justin Rosado, RD, CDN, CDCES.
Although nuts always seem to be in the spotlight, Rosado says it’s time for the seeds to steal the show. “Often overshadowed by seeds, nuts are little powerhouses loaded with healthy fats, essential vitamins and minerals, and protein. The health benefits of consuming seeds include cholesterol-lowering effect and antioxidant properties,” she continued, referring to this research.
The healthy fats in the seeds play an important role in the absorption of micronutrients in the body. “The seeds are rich in unsaturated fats known to enhance vitamin absorption and transport, and contain antioxidant properties.” Rachel Fine, RDNFrom To The Pointe Nutrition.
Flax and chia seeds come out from the top
Flaxseeds, specifically, are a Vine favorite because they contain antioxidants and boast an essential fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). “Flaxseeds are my favorite, and often the most economical. Flax is a rich source of lignans, which is a powerful phytochemical with antioxidant properties,” says Fine, noting that flax also has the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids ( ALA) per serving. “ALA fatty acids are converted in the body to EPA and DHA, two types of omega-3s that are particularly important for heart health and brain health,” she adds.
Fine is a fan of chia as well. “Chia seeds are rich in soluble fiber, which has been shown to improve cholesterol. Fiber also helps keep us full between meals, maintains blood sugar control for sustained energy, and promotes digestive regularity,” offers Fine. “Chia seeds are also a great source of calcium, and unlike flax, you don’t need an extra grinding step before eating (chia is easy for the body to digest without having to grind the seeds beforehand).
How to eat more seeds
So how do you add more seeds to your diet? Rosado suggests spooning it into your morning smoothie, homemade relish mix, or as a crunchy addition to your salad—”My favorite blends are pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, and poppy,” she says, but the possibilities are nearly endless. “Try pre-roasting the seeds to get the perfect texture and to bring out more flavor!” Rosado adds.
As Vine highlights, flaxseeds must be ground in order to digest and gain the full health benefits. RDN enjoys sprinkling flax into oatmeal and yogurt, but we love adding flax to slimming salad dressings, too.
One important thing to note: Be careful with serving sizes because the seeds (similar to nuts) are calorie dense, Rosado says. “The best advice for reaping the benefits of the seeds is to stick to the suggested serving size of 1 ounce, or about ½ cup,” she says.
Perri O. Blumberg is a freelance writer on food, health and lifestyle. Read more