They say that good things come in small packages. Seeds have been a part of the human diet since the dawn of our ancestors. Today, seeds are gaining recognition for their many health benefits because they are packed with a wide variety of nutrients.
What is a seed? How are they different from nuts?
Seeds are the unit of reproduction in flowering plants and are used for sowing. Nuts and seeds are often grouped together because of their many similarities. However, nuts differ from seeds in that they have a tough shell surrounding an edible kernel.
Why should I add seeds to my diet?
Seeds have a variety of properties that are beneficial to health. To start, seeds are packed with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, AKA the “healthy fats”. Research shows that polyunsaturated fats can be cardio-protective and reduce inflammation in the body.
In addition, seeds can be a great source of protein. One quarter cup of sunflower seeds contains five grams of protein. Healthcare professionals have been encouraging the incorporation of plant based protein into the diet. Dietitians and environmentalists are eager to reduce the amount of animal based products we consume to promote a more plant based diet and to reduce our carbon footprint.
The seed coat of seeds are a fantastic source of insoluble fiber, the “roughage” in the diet. The body is unable to digest insoluble fiber because it does not dissolve in water. The undigested fiber passes through the gastrointestinal tract and speeds up the movement of food and waste through the gut. Fiber increases the feeling of fullness and can alleviate constipation. Fiber, in combination with fat and protein makes seeds a satisfying and filling snack.
Seeds are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants such as vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc. These micronutrients are nature’s medicine. Consumption of these micronutrients are associated with reduced oxidative stress in the body– a natural chemical process that contributes to the development of chronic disease and aging.
How can I incorporate more seeds into my diet?
Seeds can easily be added to salads, smoothies, and side dishes. Here are a few websites with some great recipes: