It should not come as a great surprise that the health benefits of seeds are very significant because seeds are the part of a plant that contain all the ingredients needed to bring forth new life. Find out why the health benefits of seeds are essential to your diet, why they are good for healthy weight loss and why they have been used for centuries to treat specific ailments. Discover which seeds are the stars of the seed world and why seeds should be a part of your life?
Some of the most common seeds that are acclaimed for their health benefits are chia seeds, flax seeds (Linseeds), hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Together these seeds are simply packed full of goodness.
The health benefits of seeds include providing you with the nutrition you need for a healthy diet and aiding healthy weight loss as well as treatment for some illnesses. They contain many of the essential fatty acids that your body cannot manufacture such as omega 3 and 6, they are a great source of vitamins and they contain protein. The health benefits of seeds include combating free radicals which are linked to cancer and other illnesses, they can help reduce high blood pressure and reduce bad forms of cholesterol, plus a lot more besides.
So what are specific the health benefits of seeds?
Chia seed – has hydrating properties and also aids healthy weight loss
The health benefits of seeds were known to the Aztecs in South America who used chia as an energy food. Chia seed is hydrophilic which means that the seeds soak up water so they act as a method of hydrating your body over a longer period, making them great for athletes. The fact that they absorb water also causes them to have impacts on your digestive processes including slowing down the speed at which your body converts carbohydrates into simple sugar and the speeds at which calories are absorbed.That means they can contribute to healthy weight loss both by making you feel fuller and reducing your calorie absorption. They may also be helpful for diabetics due to the slower rate that carbohydrates are converted into sugar. On top of this they are packed full of nutrients including Omega-3 and 6 essential fatty acids.
Just like other seeds, chia seeds can be sprinkled onto salads or mixed with cereals or added to yogurt or included in baked foods.
Flax seed (linseed) – good for digestive health and treating constipation
Flax is undergoing a rebirth as one of the top health foods so it cannot be ignored when talking about the health benefits of seeds. Golden flax is often considered the best as it more readily releases the nutrients within. All the benefits are too numerous to mention here. The key one is digestive and colon health with flax seed being a good way to deal with constipation. The best way to take flax is by grinding the seeds, in a coffee grinder and sprinkling the power on cereals or salads or putting it into cakes. Some specialists say that there is no value in eating flax seeds whole, but I disagree, I add them whole to muesli and I know from experience that they work like that to combat constipation. I have concluded that if you chew your food they will be ground down by your teeth and the nutrients released. I you aim is healthy weight loss they will help to keep food moving through your digestive system which helps prevent your body storing food as fat.
Hemp seed – good for preventing stiff muscles
It is said that one tablespoon of hemp seeds per day gives you all the essential fatty acids that you need including Omega-3 and 6. Hemp is also good for people who exercise hard because it helps to eliminate lactic acid which accumulates in your muscles after exercise causing stiffness. Hemp seed contributes to brain function, so it can help prevent depression and irritability. It is known to reduce inflammation and it is good for hair health and moisturizing your skin. In terms of the health benefits of seeds, hemp must be included as a seed that will help promote your general health and well-being. The pressed hemp seed produces high quality polyunsaturated oil that can be eaten by itself or blended into other food products or used in cosmetics and body products. The seed can be hulled and “hemp nut” can be used in baking and other recipes and NO it will not make you high!
Pumpkin seeds – good for male prostrate problems
Pumpkin seeds have a high concentration of zinc and are therefore believed to be valuable in the treatment and prevention of male prostrate problems. They help prevent damage to the prostrate from male hormones. They can also be used to treat kidney problems and remove parasites such as worms from the intestines. They are believed to be valuable in preventing depression although not strong enough to treat serious depression. As with most foods if you want to get the full health benefits of seeds or use them to promote healthy weight loss, you need to eat them raw – raw pumpkin seeds are the most beneficial so sprinkle them on your salad or add them to soup just before serving. Roasted pumpkin seeds are popular but not as healthy because roasting destroys the beneficial omega fatty acids. Pumpkin seed oil can be mixed with other oils to make salad dressings. Make sure you buy a good quality oil as some are highly diluted with other oils.
Sesame seeds – help reduce high blood pressure
Like sunflower seeds, sesame seeds are high in vitamin E, they also contain sesamin and sesamolin both of which are thought to help combat and prevent high blood pressure and work against liver damage. The oil is believed to be beneficial as a skin product to prevent the formation of wrinkles.
Sesame is probably the most versatile of foods, beside being eaten in seed form it is used to make tahini (sesame butter) and halva and is widely used in baking bread and making biscuits. The seeds can be eaten raw as they are or added to other foods. Tahini is used to make humus.
Sunflower seeds – combat free radicals and promote heart health
Different varieties of sunflower seeds are grown for oil and for the seeds, both types are native to North and South America. Sunflower seeds are a good source of vitamin E which is an antioxidant and one of the vitamins needed to combat free radicals. Free radicals have been linked to causing cancer.
Vitamin E also has anti inflammatory properties which means it can help reduce inflammation related to for example asthma and rheumatoid arthritis and it helps reduce the frequency of hot flushes during the menopause. Sunflower seeds also contain Phytosterols, which are substances found in plants that are believed to reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood and improve the immune system. Sunflower seeds are very tasty and digestible raw and like other seeds are great additions to salads and cereal dishes and good for baking so they should be on the menu if you want to get the full health benefits of seeds in your diet.