Which seeds are best for health?

If you've ever grilled a batch of these after carving your annual jack-o'-lantern, you'll know they make a great snack. Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, an important mineral that improves heart health, helps the body produce energy and powers muscles. Eat them all year round as a soup or salad garnish, with cereal, or in a homemade nut mix. Also called arils, they are the sweet beads that look like jewels that are removed from the inside of the fruit.

They are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. A cup full of pomegranate seeds has just 130 calories, making it ideal for a light snack. Mixed into a salad or whole-grain dish, they add a juicy touch of flavor and color to your dish. If you're looking for healthy sources of protein, quinoa has what you need.

Grain-like seed contains 8 grams per cup. It cooks like rice and can replace pasta and other grains in many of your favorite dishes. You can also use it as a gluten-free breading for dishes such as chicken sticks. Prepare a batch instead of oatmeal to make a breakfast porridge that will allow you to start your day with more protein, fiber and iron.

These tender beans are as good for you as they are tasty. A 1-ounce serving contains about half of your daily vitamin E. They are also high in healthy fats. Add them to your next batch of veggie burgers for more flavor and nutrition.

Sunflower seeds are also a great addition to your morning smoothie. And, of course, you can continue to eat snacks right out of the bag. Chia seeds are easy to add to your favorite dishes. Sprinkle them ground or whole on cereal, vegetables, or yogurt.

Soak them in water to add to cooked cereals, or look for a recipe for chia pudding as a healthy and tasty dessert. Pumpkin seeds are a tasty snack that contains 16% of your daily iron needs in just ¼ cup. That same ¼ cup will also give you 5 grams of fiber, which is more than most nuts. In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of amino acids, proteins and omega-3, as well as minerals such as zinc and magnesium.

A Halloween favorite, fresh roasted pumpkin seeds make a great snack, but you can enjoy them all year round sprinkled with oatmeal, baked in muffins, mixed in smoothies, or added to homemade granola and energy bars. Pomegranate seeds are a sweet, juicy, low-calorie snack. Try them mixed in salads, mixed with yogurt or prepared in jelly. Quinoa has a remarkably high protein content (15% or 8 grams per cup), along with amino acids and vitamin E.

It also contains an antioxidant called quercetin. This nutty flavored seed can be replaced in cereal dishes instead of rice or pasta. Quinoa is also a healthy gluten-free bread, and can be eaten for breakfast instead of oatmeal. Hemp seeds are an excellent source of heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

They include 10 grams of easily digestible protein in just 2 scoops. Hemp seeds have a mild nutty flavor. They can be eaten alone, added to salads or on top of yogurt. Hemp milk is a good alternative to breast milk.

Good news for those who love to sprinkle chia seeds in their morning oatmeal cup or love chia pudding. Chia seeds, like flax seeds, are also rich in ALA, which Sass says works to reduce inflammation and improve circulation in the body. Another advantage that chia seeds provide? They are rich in satiating soluble fiber, which aids digestion. Not only are hemp seeds a good source of healthy fat, but Sass also says that just three scoops give 10 grams of protein.

Sprinkle hemp seeds on avocado toast or mix a few spoonfuls into your next batch of homemade hummus. Pumpkin seeds are packed with minerals, such as magnesium, manganese, iron and zinc. Try coating a cup or two of pumpkin seeds with olive oil and sprinkling your favorite condiments and roasting them in the oven for a tasty, crunchy midday snack. Who knew that baseball players' favorite snack was packed with cell-protecting vitamins and antioxidants? Sass also points out that sunflower seeds contain one-third of the recommended daily intake of selenium, an essential mineral associated with DNA repair in damaged cells, as well as with the destruction of cells that have been depleted or dysfunctional through a process called apoptosis.

Eating chia seeds as a source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) can cause redistribution related to heart and liver protection. Sesame seeds are commonly consumed in Asia and also in Western countries as part of a paste called tahini. In particular, consumption of sunflower seeds more than five times a week was associated with reduced levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a key chemical involved in inflammation. A couple of studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil can improve symptoms of prostate and urine disorders (41, 4).

All of these seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with everything from a healthy brain and heart to supple skin. In addition, known as cumin, caraway seeds have been used since ancient times due to their healing properties and health benefits. A couple of interesting studies have shown that gut bacteria can convert sesamin in sesame seeds into another type of lignan called enterolactone (31, 3). Another study in children found that pumpkin seeds can help reduce the risk of bladder stones by reducing the amount of calcium in the urine (40).

By the end of the study, both the almond and sunflower seed groups had experienced a reduction in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Eating chia seeds can help reduce joint pain, help lose weight, increase energy, and protect the body from serious diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. A study of postmenopausal women also found that pumpkin seed oil can help lower blood pressure, increase “good” HDL cholesterol, and improve menopausal symptoms (4). In addition to salad ingredients, you can add sunflower seeds to muffins or bread recipes, in vegetable or sautéed dishes, in nut mixes, and in cereal or yogurt.

Since hemp seed contains 65% globulin and distine, it also contains an amount of albumin, a protein available in a form similar to that found in blood plasma. These studies also showed that pumpkin seed oil can reduce symptoms of overactive bladder and improve the quality of life of men with an enlarged prostate. Seeds are extremely easy to add to salads, yogurt, oatmeal, and smoothies, and can be an easy way to add healthy nutrients to your diet. Seeds are the true source of nutrients, from which a whole plant starts, so including a seed in your diet is to open up areas of health and nutrition without much effort.

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Erika Shipley
Erika Shipley

Subtly charming beer nerd. Extreme internet specialist. Devoted travel junkie. Proud coffee maven. Friendly problem solver.