Seeds contain everything needed to develop into complex plants, so they are highly nutritious. Though seeds are excellent sources of fiber, they also contain healthy polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats and important vitamins, antioxidants and minerals.
When you consume seeds as part of your healthy diet, they can help you reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.
In this article, you will learn the nutritional content and health benefits of the healthiest seeds you can eat.
#1. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are great sources of omega-3 fats and fiber, along with some other nutrients. A 1-ounce (28gram) serving of chia seeds contains:
- Protein:4 grams
- Omega-3 fats: 4.9 grams
- Fiber:6 grams
- Calories: 137
- Omega-6 fats: 1.6 grams
- Monounsaturated fat:6 grams
- Manganese: 30% of RDI
- Magnesium: 30% of RDI
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 15% of RDI
Chia seeds also contain several important antioxidant polyphenols.
A number of studies have shown that eating chia seeds can increase ALA (an important omega-3 fatty acid that can help you reduce inflammation) in your blood.
Your body can convert ALA into omega-3 fats like docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which are the omega-3 found in the oily fish. However, this conversion process is usually quite insufficient in the body.
A study showed chia seeds might help increase the EPA levels in the blood.
A study carried out with twenty people with type 2 diabetes discovered that eating 37 grams of chia seeds a day for 12 weeks reduced blood pressure and several inflammatory chemicals levels, including C-reactive protein (CRP).
So chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fats and can effectively lower blood sugar and reduce the risk factor for heart disease.
Flaxseeds popularly known as linseeds are excellent source of omega-3 fats and fiber. The omega-3 fats are found in the fibrous outer shell of the seed and are easy for humans to digest.
So if you want to increase the levels of your omega-3, it is best to consume flaxseeds that have been ground.
1-ounce (28 grams) serving of flaxseeds contains:
- Fiber: 8 grams
- Calories: 152
- Protein: 2 grams
- Omega-6 fats:7 grams
- Omega-3 fats:5 grams
- Manganese: 35% of RDI
- Monosaturated fat:1 grams
- Magnesium: 28% of RDI
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 31% of RDI
There are several polyphenols, especially lignans in the flaxseeds, which act as essential antioxidants in the body.
Lignans, as well as omega-3 fats and fiber in flaxseeds, can help you reduce cholesterol and other heart disease risk factors.
An extensive study that combined other 28 found that consuming flaxseeds reduced levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol by an average of 10 mmol/l.
Flaxseeds may also help in reducing blood pressure especially when eaten whole every day for more than twelve weeks.
Some studies have also shown that eating flaxseeds may help reduce markers of tumor growth in women with breast cancer and may help reduce cancer risk.
In short, flaxseeds are great source of lignans, omega-3 fats, fiber and other nutrient. And a lot of evidence has shown they may help reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and the risk of cancer.
#3. Hemp seeds
If you are looking for a great source of vegetarian protein, hemp seeds are excellent. In fact, they contain more than 30 percent protein and other important nutrients.
These hemp seeds are one of the few plants that are totally protein sources, i.e., they contain the essential amino acids that your body can’t make.
Different studies have shown that the quality of protein in hemp seeds is better than most other plants that are sources of protein.
1-ounce (28 grams) serving of hemp seeds contains:
- Protein:8 grams
- Calories: 155
- Monounsaturated fat:6 grams
- Fiber:1 grams
- Magnesium: 45% of RDI
- Polyunsaturated fat:7 grams
- Zinc: 21% of RDI
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 31%of RDI
The omega-6 to omega-3 fats proportion in hemp seed is 3:1, which can be considered a good ratio. There is also gamma-linolenic acid in hemp seed, which is an essential anti-inflammatory fatty acid.
That is the reason many people take hemp seed oil. Hemp seed oil may help the heart by increasing the omega-3 fatty acids in the blood.
Omega-3 fatty acids anti-inflammatory action may also help improve eczema symptoms.
In summary, hemp seeds are excellent source of protein, and they also contain important amino acids.
#4. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are one of the types of seed commonly consumed by people and are excellent sources of monounsaturated fats, phosphorus and omega-6 fats.
1-ounce (28-gram) serving of pumpkin seeds contains:
- Protein: 7 grams
- Calories: 151
- Omega-6 fats: 6 grams
- Fiber:7 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 4 grams
- Magnesium: 37% of RDI
- Manganese: 42% of RDI
- Phosphorus: 33% of RDI
Pumpkin seeds are also fantastic sources of phytosterols (plant compounds that may help you lower blood cholesterol).
An observational study of more than 8,000 people discovered that those with higher intake of sunflower and pumpkin seeds had a significantly reduced breast cancer risk.
A study also showed that pumpkin seed might help reduce the risk of bladder stone in children by reducing the calcium amount in the urine.
Some studies have also shown that pumpkin seed oil can help improve the symptoms of urinary and prostrate disorders.
Studies have also shown that pumpkin seed oil might help reduce the overactive bladder symptoms and improve quality of life of men with enlarged prostrates.
A postmenopausal women study found that pumpkin seed oil may reduce blood pressure, improve menopause symptoms and increase good HDL cholesterol.
In short, both pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds are great sources of omega-6 fats and monounsaturated fats and may help improve symptoms of urinary disorders and heart health.
#5. Sesame seeds
People in Asia and Western countries commonly consume sesame seeds as part of the paste called tahini.
Just like other seeds, sesame seeds contain a broad nutrient profile. 1 ounce (28 grams) of it contains:
- Fiber:3 grams
- Calories: 160
- Protein: 5 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 6 grams
- Monounsaturated fat:3 grams
- Copper: 57% of RDI
- Magnesium: 25% of RDI
- Manganese: 34% of RDI
Just like flaxseeds, sesame seeds have a lot of lignans, especially the one called sesamin. In fact, sesame seeds are popular dietary sources of lignans.
A study found that postmenopausal women who consumed 50 grams of sesame seed powder every day for 5 weeks had significantly lower blood cholesterol and also improved sex hormone status.
Sesame seeds may help reduce oxidative and inflammation, which can worsen symptoms of several disorders, including arthritis.
A study showed that the people with knee osteoarthritis have fewer inflammatory chemicals in their blood after consuming about 40 grams of sesame seed powder daily for two months.
Seeds are excellent sources of vegetarian protein, antioxidant polyphenols, fiber and healthy fats. They can also help you to reduce the risk of certain diseases. Particularly, the lignans in some seeds may help you to lower the cancer risk and cholesterol.
It is easy to add seeds to yoghurt, salads, smoothies and oatmeal and can be the natural way of adding healthy nutrients to your diet.