Seeds are considered “superfoods”. These fresh plant embryos not only store vitamins, minerals, proteins, important oils and enzymes in their bodies at a very high density, they are also rich in essential fatty acids that the human body cannot synthesize by itself.
When consumed as part of a healthy diet, seeds can help control weight, reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
This article will describe 6 of the healthiest seeds you can eat.
1. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds contain eight times more Omega-3 than salmon. In addition, with abundant soluble fiber and protein, Chia seeds can effectively improve metabolism.
Chia seeds are extremely rich in nutrients. One ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contains a wide mix of nutrients:
- Fiber: 10.6 grams
- Protein: 4.4 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 0.6 grams
- Omega-3 fats: 4.9 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 1.6 grams
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 15% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDI
- Manganese: 30% of the RDI
(Note: RDI refers to the recommended daily intake. It is an indicator used in the United States and Canada to measure nutritional standards.)
Chia seeds also contain antioxidant polyphenols, which can help reduce inflammation.
In addition, Chia seeds can help reduce appetite and lower blood sugar.
A study of 20 patients with type 2 diabetes found that eating 37 grams of chia seeds every day for 12 weeks reduced blood pressure and the levels of several inflammatory chemicals [*].
Chia seeds have a mild taste and strong water absorption. You can add them to milk, soy milk or porridge, to make a delicious breakfast or snack.
Similar to chia seeds, flaxseeds are also an important source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, especially alpha-linolenic acid.
However, omega-3 fatty acids are mainly contained in the husks of flax seeds, which are not easy to digest. Therefore, grinding the seeds when eating will provide maximum benefit.
There is a variety of nutrients contained in 1 ounce (28 grams) of flaxseeds:
- Fiber: 7.8 grams
- Protein: 5.2 grams of
- Monounsaturated fat: 2.1 grams
- Omega-3 fats: 6.5 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 1.7 grams
- Manganese: 35 of the RDI
- Thiamin (Vitamin B1): 31% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 28% of RDI
Flaxseeds also contain many different polyphenols, especially lignans, which play an important role as antioxidants in the body.
Lignans, as well as the fiber and omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds, can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease. [*]
In addition, flaxseeds can also help lower blood sugar and reduce the risk of diabetes. [*]
3. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of vegetarian protein. They contain more than 30% protein, as well as many other essential nutrients.
The quality of protein in hemp seeds is better than most other plant protein sources. In fact, hemp seeds are complete protein sources, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids that your body does not produce.
The nutrients contained in 1 ounce (28 grams) of hemp seeds are:
- Fiber: 1.1 grams
- Protein: 8.8 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 0.6 grams
- Polyunsaturated fat: 10.7 grams
- Magnesium: 45% of the RDI
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 31% of the RDI
- Zinc: 21% of the RDI
The proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in hemp seed oil is about 3:1, which is considered the best ratio.
Hemp seeds also contain gamma-linolenic acid, which has anti-inflammatory effects. Actually, many people choose to take hemp seed oil supplements to get the gamma-linolenic acid.
A study found that people with eczema experienced less skin dryness and itchiness after taking hemp seed oil supplements for 20 weeks. [*].
4. Sesame Seeds
Although sesame seeds are very small, their protein content is as high as 20%. They are also rich in fiber and many other nutrients.
One ounce (28 grams) of sesame seeds contain:
- Fiber: 3.3 grams
- Protein: 5 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 5.3 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 6 grams
- Copper: 57% of the RDI
- Manganese: 34% of the RDI
- Magnesium: RDI 25%
Sesame seeds are the best known dietary source of lignans, especially sesamin.
Sesame seeds can also help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which may reduce the risk of many inflammatory diseases, including arthritis.
One study showed that people with knee osteoarthritis had significantly fewer inflammatory chemicals in their blood after eating about 40 grams of sesame seed powder every day for two months.
5. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a delicious snack. 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds can meet 16% of your daily iron needs. They are better than most nuts.
In addition, pumpkin seeds are a good source of amino acids, protein, omega-3 fatty acids and minerals, such as zinc and magnesium.
One ounce (28 grams) of pumpkin seeds contain:
- Fiber: 1.7 grams
- Protein: 7 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 4 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 6 grams
- Manganese: 42% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 37% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 33% of the RDI
Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of plant compounds called phytosterols, which may help lower blood cholesterol.
One observational study of more than 8,000 people found that people who consumed more pumpkin and sunflower seeds had a significantly lower risk of breast cancer.
In addition, some studies have proven that pumpkin seeds have other health benefits, including:
- Reducing the risk of bladder stones.
- Improving symptoms of prostate and urinary system diseases.
- Improving menopausal symptoms.
6. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are rich in healthy fats, protein, fiber, phytochemicals, selenium, copper and magnesium.
According to a report from the United States Department of Agriculture, sunflower seeds are one of the best sources of vitamin E.
One ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds contain:
- Fiber: 2.4 grams
- Protein: 5.8 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 5.2 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 6.4 grams
- Vitamin E: 47% of the RDI
- Manganese: 27% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 23% of the RDI
One observational study of more than 6,000 adults found that eating sunflower seeds more than five times a week may reduce the level of C-reactive protein (CRP), a key chemical related to inflammation.
Sunflower seeds can also reduce total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, as well as triglyceride levels. As a result, they may help to prevent cardiovascular diseases.
However, consuming too many sunflower seeds can also cause a decrease in HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Therefore, it is still necessary to pay attention to the amount you eat.
Seeds are an important source of healthy fats, vegetarian protein, fiber and antioxidants.
Eating these 6 healthiest seeds can help you reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases. In particular, the lignans in certain seeds may help reduce cholesterol and cancer risk.
You can eat these seed foods directly, or add them to salads, yogurt, oatmeal and smoothies, to add more nutrients to your diet.