If you are contemplating a more plant-based or vegan diet, seeds provide numerous health benefits due to the abundance of nutrients packed inside them. Seeds are important because they contain both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, in addition to being excellent sources of magnesium, zinc, calcium, and copper. Seeds are also are a great source of fiber and phytonutrients which provide benefits to support the immune and cardiovascular systems and help to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Seeds come in different shapes, sizes, and colors from all different sources such as plants, flowers, vegetables, and herbs.
Flax seeds are known to contain lignans, which are a type of phytoestrogen. These phytoestrogens bind to estrogen receptor sites and reduce estrogen activity and tumor cell growth. In addition to lignans, flax seeds are packed with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seeds come in golden and brown and should be ground up before eating so your body can absorb its nutrients.
Add flax to yogurts, smoothies, rice, or even to sauces like this Flax Seed and Walnut Pesto.
Poppy seeds go as far back as Ancient Egypt, where they were initially harvested and later developed into a commercial crop all around the world. Poppy seeds contain ample amounts of calcium, iron, protein and fiber They have a light nutty flavor and are commonly used on breads and baked goods, or coupled with beets and lemons.
Try our Lemon Poppy Cookies for a light treat with a hint of poppy flavor.
Chia seeds have been a staple in human diets dating back 5,500 years. They were a large component of the diets of the Mayas and Aztec cultures. Nutritionally chia seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients contained in a small package. Chia seeds are an excellent source of protein and are gluten-free. They are one of the few plant-based complete protein sources along with quinoa and soy.
Chia seeds contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body and regulate blood sugar. These seeds are loaded with fiber and packed with calcium, iron, and magnesium which support energy production, bone health, and optimal nerve functioning. Additionally, chia seeds are a good source of antioxidants, which help reduce free radical damage in the body and support a healthy immune system. Chia seeds are a perfect crunch to yogurts, salads, and baked goods. When soaked in liquid or “bloomed,” chia seeds produce a kind of gel that is great for making puddings.
Pumpkin seeds are also known as pepitas, and are used widely in many cuisines around the world Pumpkin seeds contain monounsaturated fats in addition to magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and iron. Just one ounce of these seeds can yield 8 grams of protein.
Pepitas can be used to make granolas and are a great topper to salads and soups such as in our Wilted Spinach Salad with Toasted Pepitas.
Mustard is a member of the Brassica family, or the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts. Due to their brassica origin, mustard seeds are filled with phytonutrients called glucosinolates, which have been studied to fight cancer cells, specifically in colon and gastrointestinal cancer cells. Mustard contains selenium, which is shown to have cancer preventing effects, and is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, phosphorus, copper and vitamin B1. This seed can be found in black, yellow and brown seeds, all with different flavor profiles and uses.
Sesame seeds are among the oldest oilseed crops in the world, having been cultivated for over 3,000 years. Sesame seeds contain magnesium and the antioxidant phytate, which may both help reduce the risk of certain cancers. Further, these seeds are a source of calcium, iron and omega-6 fatty acids. Sesame seeds are widely used in many dishes around the world such as in tahini in the Mediterranean region, on sushi, in sauces, dressings, salads, and grain products.
Check out some of our Sesame Seed Recipes to incorporate sesame seeds into your diet.
Hemp seeds are from the hemp plant and they’re unique because they contain the nine essential amino acids, making them another plant-based complete protein source. These seeds contain gamma-linoleic acid, which helps to keep inflammation low in our bodies. Hemp seeds can easily be added to most baked goods. Hemp oil is also available in many specialty health food stores.
Sunflower seeds contain significant amounts of the antioxidant vitamin E and folate. Sunflower products are available as seeds, oil, or as a seed butter. Sunflower seeds are most commonly used in salads and dressings, breads, and as a snack. Sunflower oil is a common substitute for vegetable or olive oil when cooking because it can handle high heat. Lastly, sunflower seed butter is a great substitute for peanut butter.