5 Healthy Seeds You Should Be Eating
You will find many of the materials necessary to build complex plants built into the seeds. That is why they are so nutritious.
Seeds also provide a lot of fiber and contain healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They are also a great resource for vitamins and minerals as well as healthy antioxidants.
When seeds are made part of a daily regimen, they can reduce cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.
5 Healthy Seeds You Should Be Eating
1. Chia seeds
- Chia seeds share some similarities to flaxseeds. Both are good sources of omega-3 fats, fiber, and many other nutrients.
- Chia seeds have many important antioxidant polyphenols. Multiple studies have shown that consuming Chia seeds can increase ALA in the blood1. This is an omega-3 fatty acid that helps to reduce inflammation.
- The ALA in your blood can be converted into omega-3 fats, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Those are common omega-3 fats found in fish oil. The conversion process naturally occurring in the body is not very efficient.
- According to one study, Chia seeds may help improve EPA levels in the blood2.
- Eating Chia seeds may also help with your blood sugar levels. Some studies have indicated that both whole and ground Chia seeds provide equal benefits to reduce blood sugar levels when consumed after a meal3.
- In another study, Chia seeds helped to reduce appetite along with reducing blood sugar levels4.
- You can reduce your risk factors of heart disease by eating Chia seeds5.
- When 20 people with type II diabetes were involved in a study, those who consumed 37 g of Chia seeds daily for 12 weeks reduced their blood pressure and certain inflammatory chemicals significantly6.
2. Hemp seeds
- Many vegetarians eat hemp seeds as a source of protein. Since they are over 30% protein, they are an excellent resource. They also contain many other essential nutrients.
- The complete protein source found within hemp seeds means that they contain every amino acid that can't be produced by the body.
- In some studies, the protein quality of hemp seeds was shown to be much higher than those of other plant protein resources7.
- There is a 3 to 1 ratio of omega six to omega-3 fats in hemp seed. That is considered to be ideal. Those seeds contain gamma-linolenic acid, which is an inflammatory reducing fatty acid8.
- Those benefits and more are the reason why people use hemp seed oil supplements. Studies have shown that you can increase omega-3 fatty acids in the blood by consuming hemp seed oil9. That may account for its benefit on heart health.
- At least one study showed that those who suffered from eczema had less skin dryness and itchiness after they were on a regimen of hemp seed oil supplements for 20 weeks10. They also tended to use less skin medication.
3. Pumpkin seeds
- Pumpkin seeds are a very popular type of seed and are high in phosphorus, omega-6 fats, and monounsaturated fats.
- You will find plenty of phytosterols in pumpkin seeds. Those plant compounds can lower blood cholesterol11.
- Pumpkin seeds have been shown to provide numerous health benefits, probably because they have so many different nutrients.
- 8000 people were involved in an observational study. Those who ate more pumpkin and sunflower seeds had reduced risks of breast cancer12.
- Children who were involved in another study had a lower risk of bladder stones when they ate pumpkin seeds. This is due to a reduced calcium level in the urine13.
- Bladder stones and kidney stones are similar to each other. They occur when minerals crystallize in the bladder, leading to abdominal discomfort.
- In numerous studies, pumpkin seed oil was shown to improve symptoms of urinary and prostate disorders14.
- Those studies also showed that pumpkin seed oil can reduce symptoms of overactive bladder. Men with an enlarged prostate may also benefit from the use of pumpkin seed oil.
- Postmenopausal women involved in one study were found to have lower blood pressure and improved HDL-cholesterol from the use of pumpkin seed oil. The same study also showed an improvement in menopause symptoms15.
4. Sunflower seeds
- There are many beneficial nutrients in sunflower seeds, including monounsaturated fats, vitamin A and protein.
- Eating sunflower seeds may reduce the risk of heart disease. This is because inflammation may be reduced in individuals who are middle-aged or older.
- 6000 individuals involved in an observational study who ate plenty of nuts and seeds showed a reduction in inflammation16.
- One factor that was associated with eating sunflower seeds at least five times per week was a reduction in the level of a key inflammatory chemical, reactive protein (CRP).
- In another study, the cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women with type II diabetes was observed17.
- It was to determine if there was an effect after eating nuts and seeds. When women consumed 30 g of sunflower seeds or almonds in their healthy daily diet for three weeks, something interesting happened. By the time the study ended, both the sunflower seed and almond groups experienced a reduction in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. The reduced triglycerides in the sunflower seed diet were greater than the almond diet. Good HDL cholesterol was also reduced, showing that sunflower seeds may cause a reduction in both good and bad cholesterol.
- Flaxseeds are sometimes known as linseeds and they provide a lot of omega-3 fats and fiber. They are particularly high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
- The omega-3 fats found within the fibrous outer shell of the seed is not easily digested by humans. If you want to get the most of the omega-3 they contain, you have to ground the flaxseeds before consuming them18.
- Flaxseeds also contain polyphenols, including lignans, which are an antioxidant that the body needs19.
- Lignans, as well as the omega-3 fats and fiber in flaxseeds, help reduce cholesterol levels and other factors associated with heart disease20.
- In one large study that looked into 28 other studies, consuming flaxseeds was shown to reduce LDL cholesterol by an average of 10 mmol/l21.
- There is also some evidence that flaxseed may reduce blood pressure. 11 studies were analyzed that showed blood pressure could be reduced when flaxseeds were consumed daily for 12 weeks or longer22.
- Additional studies have shown that flaxseeds may reduce tumor growth markers in women who have breast cancer and they can help to reduce cancer risks23.
- One of the reasons why that may be true is because of the lignans found in flaxseeds. They are phytoestrogens, which are similar to estrogen.
- Some studies have shown benefits associated with prostate cancer in men24.
- Along with reducing heart disease risks and the risk of cancer, flaxseed may reduce blood sugar levels to help those who are at risk of diabetes25.
Seeds provide plenty of healthy fats, proteins, antioxidant polyphenols, and fiber. They can reduce your risks for various diseases. One beneficial factor is the lignans found in certain seeds. They can reduce your risk of cancer and lower cholesterol.
Seeds are easy to add to your diet because you can include them in yogurt, oatmeal, salads, and smoothies. Adding them to your diet is an easy way to include plenty of healthy nutrients in your daily regimen.
References: 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22830971, Chia seed supplementation and disease risk factors in overweight women: a metabolomics investigation, 2012 Jul;18(7):700-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0443 2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22538527, Supplementation of milled chia seeds increases plasma ALA and EPA in postmenopausal women, 2012 Jun;67(2):105-10. doi: 10.1007/s11130-012-0286-0 3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23778782, Effect of whole and ground Salba seeds (Salvia Hispanica L.) on postprandial glycemia in healthy volunteers: a randomized controlled, dose-response trial, 2013 Jul;67(7):786-8. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.103. Epub 2013 Jun 19 4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28000689, Comparison of flax (Linum usitatissimum) and Salba-chia (Salvia hispanica L.) seeds on postprandial glycemia and satiety in healthy individuals: a randomized, controlled, crossover study, 2017 Feb;71(2):234-238. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2016.148. Epub 2016 Dec 21 5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25403867, Chia flour supplementation reduces blood pressure in hypertensive subjects, 2014 Dec;69(4):392-8. doi: 10.1007/s11130-014-0452-7 6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17686832, Supplementation of conventional therapy with the novel grain Salba (Salvia hispanica L.) improves major and emerging cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: results of a randomized controlled trial, 2007 Nov;30(11):2804-10. Epub 2007 Aug 8 7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20977230, Evaluating the quality of protein from hemp seed (Cannabis sativa L.) products through the use of the protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score method, 2010 Nov 24;58(22):11801-7. doi: 10.1021/jf102636b. Epub 2010 Oct 26 8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24552275, Potential oil yield, fatty acid composition, and oxidation stability of the hempseed oil from four Cannabis sativa L. cultivars, 2015 Mar;12(1):1-10. doi: 10.3109/19390211.2014.887601. Epub 2014 Feb 19 9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2868018/, The cardiac and haemostatic effects of dietary hempseed, 2010 Apr 21 10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16019622, Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis, 2005 Apr;16(2):87-94 11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16302759, Phytosterol composition of nuts and seeds commonly consumed in the United States, 2005 Nov 30;53(24):9436-45 12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22591208, The association between dietary lignans, phytoestrogen-rich foods, and fiber intake and postmenopausal breast cancer risk: a German case-control study, 2012;64(5):652-65. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2012.683227. Epub 2012 May 16 13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3799495, The effect of pumpkin seeds on oxalcrystalluria and urinary compositions of children in hyperendemic area, 1987 Jan;45(1):115-21 14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2809240/, Effects of pumpkin seed oil and saw palmetto oil in Korean men with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia, 2009 Winter; 3(4): 323–327 15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21545273, Improvement in HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women supplemented with pumpkin seed oil: pilot study, 2011 Oct;14(5):558-64. doi: 10.3109/13697137.2011.563882. Epub 2011 May 5 16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16357111, Nut and seed consumption and inflammatory markers in the multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis, 2006 Feb 1;163(3):222-31. Epub 2005 Dec 15 17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24959542, Markers of cardiovascular risk in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes are improved by the daily consumption of almonds or sunflower kernels: a feeding study, 2012 Dec 19;2013:626414. doi: 10.5402/2013/626414. eCollection 2013 18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18689552, Bioavailability of alpha-linolenic acid in subjects after ingestion of three different forms of flaxseed, 2008 Apr;27(2):214-21 19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19935863, Experimental and clinical research findings on the cardiovascular benefits of consuming flaxseed, 2009 Oct;34(5):965-74. doi: 10.1139/H09-087 20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25694068, Dietary flaxseed independently lowers circulating cholesterol and lowers it beyond the effects of cholesterol-lowering medications alone in patients with peripheral artery disease, 2015 Apr;145(4):749-57. doi: 10.3945/jn.114.204594. Epub 2015 Feb 18 21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19515737, Meta-analysis of the effects of flaxseed interventions on blood lipids, 2009 Aug;90(2):288-97. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.27469. Epub 2009 Jun 10 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25740909, Flaxseed consumption may reduce blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials, 2015 Apr;145(4):758-65. doi: 10.3945/jn.114.205302. Epub 2015 Mar 4 23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15897583, Dietary flaxseed alters tumor biological markers in postmenopausal breast cancer, 005 May 15;11(10):3828-35 24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11445478, Pilot study of dietary fat restriction and flaxseed supplementation in men with prostate cancer before surgery: exploring the effects on hormonal levels, prostate-specific antigen, and histopathologic features, 2001 Jul;58(1):47-52 25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28000689, Comparison of flax (Linum usitatissimum) and Salba-chia (Salvia hispanica L.) seeds on postprandial glycemia and satiety in healthy individuals: a randomized, controlled, crossover study, 2017 Feb;71(2):234-238. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2016.148. Epub 2016 Dec 21