The Tiniest Functional Food: Seeds
We recently told you about functional foods, but there is one group in particular that is having a moment. Seeds. Seeds are often called a nutrient powerhouse and it’s not hard to see why once you learn a little more about their benefits. To help with this, we reached out to Hannah Meier, registered dietitian and nutrition lead at 88 Acres.
What Are the Benefits of Seeds?
“Seeds are where all food begins - they contain the necessary nutrients to grow into a thriving, resilient, nutrient-dense plant and when we eat them, we can also access all those great nutrients.” Hannah explains. When you put it that way, it makes perfect sense that a seed would be packed with nutrition. More specifically, seeds are a source of heart-healthy fats, protein, fiber, and many vitamins and minerals. “Seeds are ripe with nourishing unsaturated fats, and unlike isolated seed oils, whole seeds contain fibers, protein and many of the same phytonutrients and antioxidants often attributed to fruits and vegetables.”
Each seed variety comes with its own nutritional benefits, but as a whole, you can count on seeds to deliver essential minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and iron. “Pumpkin and watermelon seeds each contain more iron per gram than steak, more magnesium than almonds, and are also top sources of zinc - a mineral that supports tissue repair and hundreds of other enzymatic reactions throughout the body.” Hannah says. In addition, seeds are also a source of two commonly known antioxidants, selenium and vitamin E. “Sunflower seeds are some of the richest sources of vitamin E and selenium.” In fact, ¼ cup of sunflower seeds contain 12mg of vitamin E which is over 80 percent of your daily needs.
Seeds are also known for their heart-healthy, unsaturated fat content. Omega-3 fatty acids are an unsaturated fat you may know as the type found in fatty fish such as salmon. However, some seeds are also a source of this fat including flaxseed, hemp seeds, and chia seeds.
What are the best ways to add seeds to your diet?
“Take advantage of seeds' tiny size and sprinkle them on yogurt, cereal bowls, avocado toast, salads, roasted veggies or smoothies,” Hannah says. “Stock your pantry with seed butter to make incorporating seeds as easy as spreading on toast -- or use seed butter to whip up a quick, protein-packed salad dressing, or roll into energy balls.”
We have a few favorite recipes to get you started:
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