While there are a number of people telling you that you should eat “this” vegetable or “that” fruit, but many people forget about the power of the seeds. Some seeds can give you the same, if not more nutrients than the fruit or vegetable themselves. Here’s a few that you need to keep a handful of:
1. Hemp Seeds – Their high-quality protein and stellar nutrition numbers make them a heavenly choice for anyone following a plant-based diet.
Nutrients – The big plus of hemp seeds, a factor that separates them from all others, is that they’re a complete protein, one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids or building blocks of protein. Also noteworthy: generous amounts of vitamin E, plant-based omega-3 fats and minerals, including phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc. Two tablespoons contain 90 calories, 6 grams of fat, 5 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber.
2. Chia Seeds – Yes, the ones from the “ch-ch-ch-chia pet plants” commercials. Eat the seeds raw on their own or add to almost any kind of food, like juice, yogurt, soup, eggs, pancakes, salad dressing and smoothies.
Nutrients – Chia seeds pack a whole lot in their little round package. There are large amounts of protein, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and plenty of those plant-based omega-3 fats (alpha linolenic acids).
3. Pumpkin Seeds – Raw pumpkin seeds are a rich, green color, but they turn brown when toasted. Easily found in whole food or natural grocery stores, they make a crunchy topping for baked goods, yogurt and cereals.
Nutrients – An ounce of roasted pumpkin seeds has 126 calories, 5 grams of protein and 5.5 grams of fat, giving it the skinniest nutrition profile of the seed family. Like other seeds, they’re also a good source of minerals, including magnesium, potassium and zinc.
4. Flax Seeds – Food companies may add them whole to snacks, but the only way to open yourself up to the health benefits of these tiny, nutty-flavored seeds is to grind them (or buy them already ground up). Try them in a healthy smoothie or sprinkled on yogurt and cereal. Both seed colors (dark brown or golden-colored) are good for you. Their nutrition profile is identical.
Nutrients – Rich in plant-based omega-3 fats, each 35-calorie tablespoon of ground flaxseed meets government guidelines for alpha linolenic acid — 1.1 grams per day for women and 1.6 grams per day for men. Also, count on that same tablespoon giving you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber, a big reason why flax is considered such a good laxative.
5. Pomegranate Seeds – The pomegranate, with its edible seeds inside juicy sacs, is high in vitamin C and potassium, low in calories (80 per serving, which is just under one-third of a medium fruit), and a good source of fiber.
Nutrients – In simple words, pomegranate juice pumps the level of oxygen in your blood. The antioxidants fight free radicals and prevents blood clots. This eventually helps the blood to flow freely in your body in turn improving the oxygen levels in your blood.
Pomegranates are especially high in polyphenols, a form of antioxidant purported to help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. In fact, pomegranate juice, which contains health-boosting tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid, has higher antioxidant activity than green tea and red wine.
6. Sunflower Seeds – No, we’re not talking about the salty shells or BBQ-flavored shells that sometimes surround the sunflower seeds–look inside the shell. The beautiful yellow flower is a sight to behold, but its real gold can be found in its black-and-white hulled seeds. Great for snacking or as a topping for cereal, crisps and yogurt. Or chop them into a healthy coating for pan-fried chicken tenders.
Nutrients An ounce (1/4 cup) of shelled seeds delivers one-third of the daily requirement for vitamin E and phosphorous. That same 170-calorie serving also offers up small amounts of protein, fiber, zinc, folate, vitamin B6 and choline, which has been linked to better memory and cognitive performance in older adults.