Don’t let their small size fool you; seeds are nutritional powerhouses! Each of these tiny embryonic plants is jam-packed with rich concentrations of vitamins, minerals, proteins and essential oils that are essential to health and vitality.
Here are six seeds to add to your diet:
Not only are chia seeds the richest plant source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, they’re also teeming with iron, folate, calcium and magnesium. And did we mention they’re gluten-free? This compact superfood is a great way to boost your energy levels, lose weight, stabilize blood sugar, lower cholesterol, reduce joint pain, and protect against serious ailments such as diabetes and heart disease.
You can access the health benefits of chia seeds whether you eat them whole or ground. They’re also extremely versatile. Add them to your morning smoothie or yogurt, bake them into cookie or muffin recipes, or sprinkle them over salads.
Hemp seeds are one of nature’s greatest sources of complete protein, containing all 20 amino acids — including the nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce on their own (an extremely rare feature in plant protein sources). They’re also loaded with fibre, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, and phytosterols — plant-based compounds that help lower cholesterol.
Hemp seeds are gluten-free and can be eaten raw or ground. They make a great protein-rich addition to smoothies, baked goods, yogurt or cereal.
Also known as “pepitas,” pumpkin seeds are popular for their sweet, nutty flavour. They’re an excellent source of B vitamins, which are important for metabolizing energy. The protein in pumpkin seeds is highly concentrated in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps lower anxiety levels.
Pumpkin seeds can be eaten raw or roasted, shelled or unshelled. They can be added to trail mix and granola, or used in baking, cooking, or as a soup garnish.
Hailed as one of the world’s healthiest foods, flax seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as soluble fibre, which makes you feel fuller for longer, helps lower cholesterol and promotes stable blood sugar levels. They’re also high in a lignans, a phytonutrient that may help prevent certain cancers.
Ground flax seeds are easier for our bodies to digest, so it’s important to grind them before eating them to access their full health benefits. They can then be added to smoothies, yogurt, cereal, salads or baked goods.
The most vitamin and mineral-rich part of the wheat kernel, wheat germ is loaded with protein, iron and B vitamins such as folate. It also has a very high fibre content, which is necessary for cholesterol control, blood sugar balance, intestinal health and detoxification.
Wheat germ makes a great addition to hot cereals, baked goods and smoothies. But make sure to keep it in a tightly sealed container — preferably in the freezer — as its polyunsaturated fats can quickly turn rancid.
The fruit of the sunflower, sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E — an antioxidant that protects cells from damage and helps maintain healthy hair and skin. They’re also rich in protein, heart-healthy fats, dietary fibre and B vitamins.
Eat unshelled sunflower seeds by themselves as a snack, bake them into cookie or muffin recipes, or add them to salads, stir-fries, trail mix or yogurt.