Seeds are healthy sources of fiber

Seeds and their nutritional value.

Seeds are proving to be big news in the diet and nutrition arena. Aside from the fiber and heart healthy omega 3-fatty acids, good foods do come in small packages. Many seeds are nutritional giants. Think of them as pint-sized foods with super-sized benefits.

There are many kinds of seeds. Michigan State University Extension recommends these six common seeds because of their nutritional value:

  • Chia seeds: Chia is a fiber heavyweight. One tablespoon serving delivers five grams of fiber. They are a good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and plant-based protein. The nutritional breakdown of chia seeds is: 60 calories, three grams protein, 3 grams fat, and 5 grams carbs per tablespoon)
  • Hemp seeds: Hemp contains the full arsenal of muscle-building essential amino acids, comparable to what you'd find in meat, eggs and dairy. One tablespoon of hemp seeds is: 57 calories, three grams protein, four grams fat and one gram of carbs.
  • Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds include good amounts of iron, magnesium, testosterone-boosting zinc and vitamin K. One tablespoon of pumpkin seeds is: 47 calories, two grams protein, four grams fat and 1.5 grams carbs.
  • Flax seeds: Flax is one of the best dietary sources of soluble fiber. By helping to slow down digestion, soluble fiber can help in the regulation of blood sugar and appetite, two benefits that can go a long way in stopping flab before it starts. One tablespoon of flax seeds is: 37 calories, one gram protein, three grams fat and two grams carbs.
  • Sunflower seeds: Sunflower seeds supply healthy unsaturated fats along with a range of minerals, such as magnesium, copper, manganese and high levels of vitamin E. One tablespoon of sunflower seeds is: 51 calories, two grams protein, 4.5 grams fat and two grams carbs.
  • Sesame seeds: Sesame seeds contain copper, a mineral essential for numerous enzymatic reactions in the body, including those involved in energy production and the performance of your nervous system. One tablespoon of sesame seeds is: 51 calories, two grams protein, 4.5 grams fat and two grams carbs.

According to MyPlate, nuts and seeds are a good source of protein and fiber. They are also a concentrated source of calories, so it is important to eat the recommended portion size.

These are some ideas to incorporate seeds into meals:

  • Sprinkle on salads, yogurt, cottage cheese
  • Blend into cereals and smoothies
  • Toast them for a crunchy taste added to granola and/or trail mix
  • Chia is hydrophilic—it absorbs several times its weight in water—you can use the seeds to create healthy fruit spreads and puddings. Chia gel is also used in vegan baking to act as a binder in lieu of eggs.

As with any food/food groups, always read the food labels for seeds (including seed powders). Be aware of food safety issues surrounding recalls of foods, as these sometimes will include seeds. Always check with your health care provider, especially if you have restrictions to seeds such as diverticulitis or other dietary conditions.

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