Do we need to add seeds to our diet?

HiyaGorgeous

In the past decade, seeds have been touted as being small vessels of bountiful nutrients, sprinkle-able ways to nutritionally enhance any meal. They are often considered ‘functional foods’, or foods that may provide additional health benefits, reduce disease risk, or promote good health. In particular, chia, flax and hemp seeds have vastly increased in popularity. These seeds are rumoured to increase fullness after eating, reduce food cravings, prevent heart disease, lower cholesterol and much more. But can such tiny things really be so powerful?

Chia Seeds

What nutrients do they contain?
The seed of the Salvia Hispanica (part of the mint family) is more commonly known as the Chia Seed; They are a rich fiber source as each seed is 18 to 30% fiber. Chia is made of about 15 – 25% protein and 26 – 41% carbohydrate. The minerals, vitamins and dry matter constitute 90 – 93% of the seed. It also contains many antioxidants, is gluten free and is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Chia seeds are one of the best sources of essential fatty acid, alpha-linolenic fatty acid (ALA), which is believed to treat and prevent blood clots and heart diseases.

What can chia seeds do?

  • Reduce blood sugar – Can reduce the effects of carbohydrates in raising blood sugar levels. When baked into bread can decrease the after-meal blood sugar spikes.
  • Strong bones – Chia seeds are high in calcium and magnesium, which promote healthy bones and teeth, and in iron, folate and soluble fibre.
  • Healthy gut – The mucilaginous (gum like) fibre in the sprouted seeds promotes bowel regularity and helps stabilise blood sugar levels. Briefly soaking the seeds for 1 hour releases more of their beneficial fibre, or leave to soak longer and sprout like other seeds.
  • Healthy heart – High in omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower the undesirable fats (LDL cholesterol and triglycerides) in our blood that can cause heart disease and stroke.

How can we incorporate chia seeds into our diet?

Baked goods – Chia seeds can be baked into cookies, muffins, bread etc.. with little change to the original recipe.

Toppings – Their crunchy texture make them a popular choice for yogurt and oatmeal toppings.

Soups, Smoothies and beverages – When blended into smoothie, their very subtle flavor doesn’t detract from the sweetness of the fruits and vegetables. Chia seeds can absorb up to 9 times their weight in liquid and are easily suspended in liquids, making them an interesting add in to beverages for their texture and substantial volume.

Salad – Sprouted chia seeds add an extra crunch to green salads.

Chia Seed Crackers

Recipe by Nyoutritious

Flax Seeds

What nutrients do they contain?
Flax seeds are derived from the Linum Usitatissimum plant and are often called linseeds. They contain soluble fiber and carry all 9 essential amino acids. Like chia seeds, flax seeds are one of the richest sources of ALA. For this reason, they have been advocated to combat heart disease. They also contain lignans, which are estrogen-like chemicals produced by plants (phytoestrogens). Containing 85.5mg lignan per 1oz, therefore flax seeds are by far the richest natural source of plant lignans. Though diets rich in foods containing plant lignans have been consistently associated with reductions in risk of cardiovascular disease, exactly how they aid the human body is not clearly understood.
What can they do?

  • Reduce cholesterol – A study by The British Journal of Nutrition found significant reductions in total blood cholesterol (22%) in candidates with high cholesterol after an 8 week dietary supplement with 600mg per day of chemicals derived from flax seed. 8
  • Prevent atherosclerosis – Atherosclerosis is the hardening and thickening of the arteries through a build up of cholesterol and triglycerides within the arterial walls. Severe atherosclerosis may result in a total or partial blockage of blood flow, or a piece of the clot may break off and travel down the bloodstream. This makes atherosclerosis a serious condition, as it can lead to heart attack or stroke. Flax seeds have shown to reduce the development of atherosclerosis caused by cholesterol by the flax lignans slowing down the progression of atherosclerosis. Overall, suppression of atherosclerosis is associated with lowering the amounts of lipids in the blood.

How can we incorporate flax seeds into our diet?

Backed into snacks – Flax seeds are used similarly to chia seeds in backed goods and toppings but are also often incorporated into store bought cereals and crackers.

Egg substitute in baking – Grind seeds in a food processor (or purchase already ground seeds), and replace each egg with a tablespoon of ground seeds mixed well with 3 tablespoons of water. Let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes or refrigerator for 20 minutes to an hour. It is then ready to use when it has the gooey consistency of an egg white.

Flaxseed oil – Flaxseed oil doesn’t keep well, buy in a dark container and store away from light and heat. It’s not heat stable, so use cold. Drizzle on cottage cheese, or scoop out the flesh of a backed potato, mix with quark cheese and flaxseed oil and replace in the potato skins. You can also add flaxseed oil to juices and smoothies, or use to enrich condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise and salad dressings.

Note: Beware of spoilage – Flax seeds have a shorter shelf life than chia seeds, especially when ground and can soil in 1 week in room temperature or 1 month if refrigerated.

Flaxseed, Nuts, and Date Balls

Recipe By ihealthu

Hemp Seeds

What nutrients do they contain?
The hemp plant is a variety of cannabis that is grown for it’s seed and fiber. It’s seeds are perfectly safe and legal to eat as they contain very little tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive compound of marijuana). Hemp seeds contains a perfect balance of omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, which help boost brain and heart health. They are also a source of complete protein and fiber that benefit gastrointestinal and heart health, and a source of phyrosterols (plant hormones) that help lower cholesterol and promote hormonal balance in the body.
What can they do?

  • Anti-Inflammatory – Hemp seeds reduce inflammation and keep skin and joints in good condition. This is because they contain a particularly beneficial fatty acid called gamma linolenic acid (GLA). Ingested hemp seeds deliver a healthy dose of GLA which is a direct building block of anti-inflammatory hormones that reduce inflammation in arthritis and allergic reactions.

How can I use hemp seeds in my diet?

Hemp seed oil – Is produced by pressing the seeds, some people use hemp seed oil as a dietary supplement rather than taking fish oil capsules. Store in a dark container away from heat and light. Look for oils that have not been bleached or deodorised. The oil is not suitable for frying or cooking at a high temperatures and should be used cold to enjoy its benefits. Add to juices, smoothies, yogurts, cottage cheese, salad dressings, steamed vegetables or use a little on bread instead of butter.

Hemp milk – Hemp milk is produced by grinding the hemp seeds that have been soaked in liquid. This can be used as a dairy substitute, such as for cereal, smoothies and beverages.

A crunchy topping – The taste of the raw seeds is often compared to the flavor of pine nuts, allowing the seed to be sprinkled onto nearly anything as they have a very unobtrusive flavor. They frequently appear blended into smoothies and sprinkled onto hot cereals.

Raw Hemp And Chia Seed Bars

Recipe By The Healthy Family And Home 

The nutritional properties of these seeds are quite similar, especially chia and flax, as they are abundant source of essential fatty acid ALA and fiber. They can be great supplements to a balanced diet and offer fantastic health benefits. With active ingredients these seeds increase the nutritional value of daily meals and can be considered, handy functional foods that easily add an interesting and healthy boost to many meals.

emma-xx

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