Often neglected for their much more glamorous cousins – nuts, seeds need to be a part of everyone’s diet. Dense in nutrients, they provide you with complex carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, and plenty of energy! That’s not all.
Here’s why you should incorporate it in your diet today:
- They are a good source of dietary fiber, which slows the rate of digestion and keeps your digestive system on track.
- They provide you with good fats, which nourish the blood cells and help maintain brain function.
- Along with nuts, they reduce the levels of inflammation in the body, which staves off ageing and reduces the risk of heart disease.
- They contain plant sterols, that help keep cholesterol levels in check and reduce the risk of cancer.
- They are rich in trace minerals like selenium, magnesium, copper and zinc, which is required by our bodies.
- Over time and consumed regularly, seeds can help prevent weight gain.
This seed that has been around to power Aztec armies is super rich in fiber. The fiber in chia seeds isn’t your regular kind; it swells to form a gel when it mixes with digestive liquids in the gut. This leads to a feeling of satiety and improves blood sugar control. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids and offers strong antioxidant activity.
Nutritional value: One tablespoon has 60 calories with 3 gm protein, 3 gm fat and 5 gm carbs.
What you can do: Sprinkle liberally on your cereal, curd, raita and salads.
Halloween’s around the corner, but you don’t need to wait for the spooky October fest to add these nutty seeds to your diet. Known as pepitas in Spanish, pumpkin seeds have high levels of unsaturated fats, which keep your body functioning like a well-oiled machine. The seeds contain iron, which helps maintain high energy levels, along with magnesium, testosterone-boosting zinc and vitamin K.
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Nutritional Value: One tablespoon has 47 calories with 2 gm protein, 4 gm fat and 1.5 gm carbs.
What you can do: Roasted and sprinkled with spices such as pepper and paprika, pumpkin seeds are perfect for a snack.
Hemp seeds provide extremely high quality plant protein to the muscles. They are among the few vegetarian sources of complete protein, containing all 20 amino acids that are vital to build muscle. The seeds are high in vital minerals such as energy-boosting iron, bone-building calcium, and magnesium. They also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Nutritional value: One tablespoon has 57 calories with 3 gm protein, 4 gm fat and 1 gm carbs.
What you can do: Add them to everything – cereals, shakes, soups and salads.
The nutty flax, one of the first varieties that shone the spotlight on seeds, is one of the best dietary sources of soluble fiber. It helps slow down digestion, translating into satiety and blood sugar regulation. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which reduces inflammation, and lignans, which can help prevent cancer.
Nutritional value: One tablespoon has 37 calories with 1 gm protein, 3 gm fat and 2 gm carbs.
What you can do: apart from adding to soups, salads and raita for some crunch, try replacing one part butter with three parts ground flaxseed in baked goods.
The inexpensive sunflower seeds are packed with good fats, selenium, copper and antioxidant-rich vitamin E, all of which promote better heart health and avert inflammation. The high levels of vitamin E can improve recovery after exercise as it reduces training-induced oxidative stress in the body. They are also rich in folate, a nutrient that’s vital for women. Also rich in fiber, it keeps you satiated for longer.
Nutritional value: One tablespoon has 51 calories with 2 gm protein, 4.5 gm fat and 2 gm carbs.
What you can do: Add it to anything, cereal, salad, sandwich fillings or even smoothies.
Often spotted on burger and hot dog buns, sesame seeds deserve more than a random sprinkling. They are a good dairy-free source of calcium, which is essential for building stronger bones and ensuring healthy muscles function. They also contain copper, which is needed for numerous enzymatic reactions in the body. Black sesame seeds offer greater antioxidant power than the regular off-white kind. Time to say Open Sesame?
Nutritional value: One tablespoon has 51 calories with 2 gm protein, 4.5 gm fat 4.5 gm fat and 2 gm carbs.
What you can do: Top your salads, soups, and cooked vegetables with it. You can even add it to Dalia and sandwich fillings.
Chia, hemp and flax seeds may have attained superfood status but that’s no reason to neglect the humble pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds. Like with all foods, focusing on only one variant won’t help. Make sure you rotate your seeds, and aim to consume about 42-45 gm or 3 tablespoons of mixed seeds daily.
If you’re wondering how to balance the quantum of seeds and nuts in your diet, a HealthifyMe nutritionist or dietician can help.