Seeds may be tiny, but they’re packed with nutrients such as protein, fiber, iron, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. They may also be good for your waistline, a recent study shows.
The study, conducted by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and published in an August issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, revealed that specific plant compounds — found in foods such as flax and sesame seeds —may help prevent or slow weight gain.
The research showed that women who consumed high levels of lignans, the plant compounds, tended to weigh less and gain less weight over time, compared with women who didn’t consume these compounds in high amounts.
The compounds are found in high amounts in flax and sesame seeds, but are also seen in other plant-based foods such as whole grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea and wine.
Earlier studies conducted on animals have suggested that lignans may play a role in regulating weight. After the new study, the researchers believe that “increased lignan consumption might potentially lead to less weight gain”. It is not clear how lignans act but as they are similar in structure to the hormone estrogen, they may be able to influence body weight by binding to the receptors for estrogen.
Here are 10 ways to add lignan-rich flax and sesame seeds to your diet:
- Sprinkle them on all kinds of salads to add crunch and texture.
- Add them to batter for homemade cookies and muffins.
- Combine toasted seeds with rice vinegar, soy sauce and crushed garlic for a quick and healthy dressing.
- Sauté chicken/fish/veggies with onions, ginger, garlic and seeds.
- Make tahini and store in the fridge for an anytime bread topper.
- Add them to a banana smoothie for a power breakfast.
- Use as a soup garnish instead of unhealthy croutons.
- Get creative and make your own seed-filled granola for snacks on the go.
- Coarsely grind seeds and add the powder to curries and casseroles.
- Use sesame oil for cooking your vegetables once in a while.
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