Growing up in Brooklyn, when I was in middle school it was ‘the thing’ to stop by the corner convenience store on the way to or from school to buy sunflower seeds. We just loved it as a snack and enjoyed the process of popping those shelled seeds in our mouths, skillfully cracking them with our tongues, spitting out only the shell and eating the seed. It was salty, crunchy and tasty. Little did we know that sunflower seeds when not roasted and salted are an excellent source of vitamin E, the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. They also contain linoleic acid (essential fatty acid), amino acids, and minerals. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and the minerals contained in raw sunflower seeds include magnesium, potassium, zinc and calcium.
These days I have flax seed every morning along with my icelandic yogurt and fruit. The main health benefits of flax seed are due to its rich content of Amino Acids, Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), dietary fiber, and lignans. ALA has power anti-flammatory properties. Lignans are phytoestrogens, plant compounds that have estrogen-like effects and antioxidant properties. Phytoestrogens help to stabilize hormonal levels, reducing the symptoms of PMS and menopause, and potentially reducing the risk of developing breast and prostate cancer.
There are lots of seeds to consider for health benefits. A seed is living food thus has all the nutrients straight out of the shell. Roasting it breaks down the nutritional value so eat them raw. Here are just a few others that are easily available that we can incorporate as snacks or in our current meals –
- Pumpkin Seeds – Don’t wait until you carve the Halloween pumpkin to get pumpkin seeds. They are a great source of vitamin B-complex, manganese and other minerals. These seeds are also high in omega-3 fatty acids and zinc, two important nutrients that may play a role in supporting skeletal health.
- Chia Seeds – The seeds are extremely tiny but loaded with vitamins and minerals, and are an excellent source of fibre, protein and antioxidants, and are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Consumption of chia seeds could help reduce joint pain, aid in weight loss, deliver an energy boost and protect against serious ailments such as diabetes and heart disease.
- Hemp Seeds – While hemp is commonly confused with marijuana, as it belongs to the same family, the two plants are quite different. Hemp seeds are high in nutritional value and contain 20 different varieties of amino acids and all nine of the essential amino acids (like flax). Some essential amino acids can’t be naturally produced by the body and these seeds have the capacity to supplement them in the body. They contain high amounts of protein, which helps in strengthening the immune system, thereby, reducing the instances of diseases, besides helping in excreting toxins from the body.
I’m adding some more seeds to my diet!
Feed the wellness in you!