This post is so long overdue! But better late than never 🙂
I decided to do a single post instead of a whole series to discuss the awesome benefits of seeds. Many of the benefits overlap and so rather than repeating much of the info, I thought it will be more efficient and much less annoying for everyone to just do it all in one go.
Eating Seeds Is Not Weird
For some of you, it might seem very strange to be eating seeds. I still remember the look my Oupa gave me when I kept eating the watermelon seeds when I was younger. He asked me straight, are you mad? Not quite sure why he had such a vehement response, but there it was.
Now, lo and behold, research has come to light toting all the many benefits of watermelon seeds. While I skipped the seeds when I ate watermelon in front of my Oupa, I still ate them from time to time when I was alone.
I am pleased to report that no watermelons have ever grown in my stomach! 😀
The Health Benefits of Seeds
Seeds are full of nutrients that not only contribute to our daily requirements, but many of them also help to lower inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, boost our immune systems and so much more.
Flax seeds, aka linseeds, are some of the most useful seeds.
They’re also the seeds that Dr Greger from Nutrition Facts recommends to supplement your intake of omega 3 fatty acids every day on his Daily Dozen Checklist, to be specific, a tablespoon a day.
They have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels, ease breast pain due to PMS, improve joint health, and even play a role in preventing cancer. These are just a few of the benefits of flax seeds.
Flax seeds B-vitamins as well as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. They have a high fibre content and some protein too. You can add them to your diet by:
- Adding them to your cereal or porridge
- Adding them to soups and stews
- Using them in place of eggs for baking (1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds and 3 tablespoons of water)
- Adding them to smoothies
Just be aware that adding a lot of ground flax seeds can cause your food to have a slimy texture, so if you dislike this, use a little less at a time. I just sprinkle a bit from the packet over most of our meals to spread it out over the day.
Chia seeds are tiny but powerful. They don’t have quite as much omega 3 as flax seeds, but they still have enough to lower inflammation and benefit your eyes, heart, and joints. Two tablespoons of chia seeds will give you 4.7 g of protein and 10 g of fibre!
They also contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, and iron in quantities that outweigh that of wheat, spinach, corn, and even oats as found in this 2016 review published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology.
When soaked in water, chia seeds become gelatinous making them great substitutes for eggs. You can also sprinkle them over salads or porridge and add them to your smoothies.
Another yummy way to use them is by making chia seed pudding. Minimalist Baker has this delicious Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding which uses the following ingredients:
- Cocoa or cacao powder
- Vanilla extract
- Maple syrup
- Almond or coconut milk
- A pinch of sea salt
- Chia seeds
Sunflower seeds aren’t just for feeding birds, they’re good for humans too.
Because these seeds are higher in omega 6, if you are on a vegan diet, make sure that you balance your intake of them with flax and/ or chia seeds or just eat fewer sunflower seeds. Too much omega 6 depletes omega 3.
Sunflower seeds contain a range of nutrients including zinc, iron, copper, and folate. They are also especially high in vitamin E which acts as an antioxidant and plays a role in making red blood cells which are needed to carry oxygen to all your cells.
Sunflower seeds can be:
- Baked with
- Cooked with
- Snacked on as is
- Put into smoothies
- Sprinkled over cereal, porridge, salads, and desserts
- Used to make your own muesli or energy bars
When I think of pumpkin seeds, I think of zinc. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of zinc and adding a tablespoon or so to your meals and snacks can be especially helpful for:
- Men as they need more zinc to maintain reproductive health (men need 11 mg of zinc per day)
- Those who struggle with acne as it can help to lower inflammation and reduce oiliness.
A 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds contain around 2.75 mg of zinc. They are also rich in other nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, and iron. Pumpkin seeds also provide antioxidants and two tablespoons offer around 7g of protein.
Why not sprinkle them over your food or try making delicious pumpkin bread with pumpkin seeds by Loving it Vegan?
Other Seeds to Try
Almost all edible seeds are a source of nutrients and can make your meals more interesting, here are a few others you can give a go:
- Sesame seeds: According to a study published in the International Food Research Journals, these little seeds are 20-25% protein. They also contain B-vitamins, calcium, and iron.
- Watermelon seeds: Just a small handful of these seeds which can be roasted or simply eaten with your watermelon contains 7.5 g of protein, some folate and a generous helping of magnesium (144 mg).
- Basil seeds: I discovered these in a drink served at the local Thai restaurant. Like chia seeds, they also become gelatinous when soaked in water. They are full of antioxidants and contain zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, and protein.
- Grape seeds: These taste nasty. While I much prefer seedless grapes, sometimes I eat grapes with seeds grimacing and bemoaning my wine limit all the way to awesomeness. Resveratrol! This anti-inflammatory, heart healthy antioxidant is present in the seeds too.
Seeds and Pips to Avoid
Not all seeds can be eaten. There are some that contain cyanide which in large quantities is harmful:
- Apple seeds
- Pear seeds
- Peach pits (stones)
- Apricot pits
- Cherry pits
- Plum pits
- Citrus fruit pips
The stones or pits aren’t likely to be eaten by accident so these you don’t really need to worry about. Now if you’re anything like me, you’re probably freaking out about the apple and pear pips and perhaps even the citrus fruit pips.
Calm down, breathe. You need to eat quite a lot of them in order to do any damage, especially with the citrus fruits which have a very low content. If you’ve blended some citrus seeds in your smoothies, that’s okay, just don’t overdo it and don’t do it every day.
As for the apple and pear pips, best to avoid those, but swallowing one accidentally won’t cause any harm.
Eating seeds has become the norm for my husband and I. While it can take some trial and error to find which way you like to eat them, it can be fun and delicious.
If you prefer not to eat them with your actual food (pumpkin seeds in a freshly roasted butternut just don’t do it for me), finding them in shops and finding recipes to use them in won’t be a problem.
Have you tried seeds? What’s your favourite way to eat them?