I love seeds. Not only are they abundantly full of goodness, it’s so easy to incorporate them into our daily diets. Adding them to recipes brings extra flavour and texture to almost any meal. Toss them into a stir fry, enjoy them with a salad, or even sprinkle some over a humble baked potato and you’ll soon see how easy it is to enjoy these good seeds. But, one thing we must remember to do, is chew. Chewing our seeds, releases the all important oils that are contained inside those crunchy shells. Wondering which seed is best for you? Let’s take a look a few.
Sesame Seeds with their light nutty flavour bring zing to almost any meal. They are rich in the mono- unsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid, which has been associated with lowering the LDL or “bad cholesterol” in the blood. Sesame seeds are a good source of B complex vitamins including folic acid and contain minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and zinc. They can be easily incorporated into most meals, whether it be a simple stir fry for dinner, or sprinkled on muesli for breakfast sesame seeds bring flavour and their goodness with ease. Try adding some to your baked vegetables next time you pop them in the oven, mix some into homemade bread and baked goods or of course enjoy some delicious tahini.
Sunflower Seeds bring a unique flavour and texture to any recipe they are added to. They make perfect afternoon snacks and are surprisingly filling. Sunflower seeds have a high oil content and are a good source of Vitamin E and Vitamin B1, Thiamine. They also contain beneficial minerals such as manganese and selenium, a trace mineral that plays an important role in the antioxidant protection process and magnesium, a mineral that assists with muscle and nerve function in the body. Want to keep your sunflower seeds fresher for longer? Try storing sunflower seeds in the fridge in an air tight container. Due to their high oil content these seeds can go rancid rather quickly. Make sure you buy good quality seeds and if buying from a bulk supplier don’t be afraid to ask questions, have a good look at the seeds, and smell them to see how fresh they are. Sunflower seeds are delicious and can be easily added to salads for added texture and flavour.
Flax Seeds the health benefits of these seeds have been known for thousands of years. This ancient crop was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians and is available in both brown and golden varieties. Flax seeds have gained a lot of notoriety in recent years due to their nutritional value, they contain both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre breaks down in water, turning to a gel like substance. When soluble fibre dissolves in the small intestine, it slows down digestion. One benefit is that it binds to cholesterol, helping prevent it from being absorbed by the body. Flax seeds are also a good source of omega 3 fatty acid and lignans. There is some evidence that suggest that lignan rich foods and foods high in fibre might help reduce the risk of some cancers including certain types of breast cancers in women and some prostate cancers, although more human studies need to be done in this area. Flaxseed is also available in a meal, and of course as an oil. The oil, makes for a great salad dressing, and is delicious drizzled over cooked potatoes. Flaxseed oil needs to be kept in the fridge in an opaque bottle. Be sure to read the bottle when trying flaxseed oil as to how much you should be having. Research has found that if you bake with flax seeds it’s possible they can still retain the ALA, alpha-linoleic acid, omega 3 component, which is great news if you want to add them to biscuits, homemade breads or even cakes. Sprinkling ground flax seeds onto muesli, yoghurt or cereal every few days, could be a good way to start incorporating these seeds into your diet as it could take time for your body to adjust to the extra fibre. Ground flax seeds can go rancid quickly, so it is a good idea to store them in an air tight container in the fridge.
Pumpkin Seeds also knowns as pepitas are the edible kernels of the pumpkin. Adding crunch and flavour to your day with these seeds is also bringing health benefits to your body. They are a good source of fibre, protein and B group vitamins and also contain beneficial antioxidants including Vitamin E. They are full of nutritional value including the amino acid tryptophan. Pumpkin seeds also contain minerals such as zinc, calcium and manganese. Manganese assists with building connective tissues in the body and with the formation of bones. Pumpkin seeds are delicious when combined with sunflower seeds and almonds or fresh macadamias for snacking on the go. They are available in most supermarkets, health food stores and some grocers. When purchasing pumpkin seeds, look for quality seeds, avoid shrivelled and small seeds with thin shells.
Chia Seeds have a rich history dating back to 3500 BC when they were first used by the Aztecs. While Chia, a member of the mint family, has a mild flavour, it is full of nutritional benefits. If you’re a vegetarian, it could be worth adding chia seeds into your daily diet 28g of chia seeds provides approximately 4.4 g of protein. They are also a source of fibre, and minerals such as phosphorus and manganese along with omega 3 fatty acids. But, wait when liquid is added to chia seeds they begin to form a hydrogel capsule. Australian researchers found that chia gel could hold some potential for food development. The study conducted by the School of Public Health and Curtin Health Innovation Research Inst., Curtin University, Western Australia found that chia gel had potential as an emulsifier, and a thickener for foods as well as a stabiliser for frozen foods. (1) Chia seeds are full of goodness, the main varieties of seeds are black, and white. Although you might see brown seeds in the market place which are immature seeds and shouldn’t be eaten. Chia seeds are easy to incorporate into most meals. They can be stirred into soups, mashed into potatoes and even mixed with yoghurt. They are great to add to smoothies and cereal for breakfast. If you need to replace eggs in a recipe, chia can help as a binding agent. Mix ¼ teaspoon of chia seeds with 1 teaspoon of warm water, per egg needed. Mix until it forms a gel, before adding to your recipe. This combination can help bind the ingredients together.
1. Gelling Properties of Chia Seed and Flour. Coorey, R., Tjoe, A. and Jayasena, V. School of Public Health and Curtin Health Innovation Research Inst., Curtin Univ., Perth, Western Australia, Australia. s.l. : Journal of Food Science, May 2014, Vols. 79: E859–E866. .
Image source: https://www.agric.wa.gov.au