We have to admit that seeds are not always a traditional part of our diet that we grow up with. Maybe the occasional sunflower seeds in a salad. However, step into midlife going through menopause and seeds have now become a favourite go-to ingredient. Seeds are extremely rich in nutrients and contain many health benefits.
Here’s a list of some of the seeds which I am talking about. Mind you it is not inclusive:
Flax or Linseeds
The Benefits of Seeds
Seeds contain high levels of essential fatty acids, the full profile of amino acids needed to form complete and digestible protein, plus vitamins A, B, C and E and the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, selenium, and manganese. All good for you.
Seeds are nutrient dense so you don’t have to eat a lot of them. They are a low GI food and a good source of slow release energy, which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and you feeling fuller for longer. Maybe help to stave off those cravings.
These are an excellent source of soluble fibre which helps lower cholesterol, makes you feel full for longer, and aids in stabilizing blood sugar levels. Flax seeds are packed with an omega-3 fatty acid, which benefits eye and brain health, and can help lower triglycerides.
High in lignans, a type of phytoestrogen it helps relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes. Essential Omega 3 fatty acids can increase metabolic rate which means you will burn up more fat. Flaxseed is best absorbed by the body when it’s ground up. It is a great source of magnesium and fibre. Being a soluble fibre can also help relieve constipation. Flax seeds also protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke risk, whilst supporting digestive health, nervous function and collagen production.
How to Eat More: Add the coarse or finely ground flax seeds to smoothies, shakes, yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, casseroles, and when baking.
2. Chai Seeds
Chai seeds, particularly the Salba variety, are high in iron, folate, calcium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fibre. The omega-3s help your heart by lowering triglycerides, the bad fats in your blood that can cause heart disease. The soluble fibre content helps decrease cholesterol, helps regulate blood sugar, improves digestion and make you feel full longer whilst the calcium and magnesium promote healthy bones and teeth.
Two tablespoons of Chia seeds contain 11g of fibre. The more fibre you eat, the lower your risk of chronic diseases, and fibre also help lower your blood sugar.
How to Eat More: Add to smoothies, yogurt, cereal, salads, or muffin batter. Make pudding with coconut milk.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
Know as great energy boosters, these seeds support immunity, heart and prostate health and promotes relaxation and restful sleep. Pumpkins seeds are rich in the amino acids alanine, glycine and glutamic acid (a good source of zinc) and omega-3 essential fatty acids. They also contain protein, iron, and phosphorus and are low in carbohydrates.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium, a nutrient that promotes a healthy heart that most people don’t eat enough of. Additionally, pumpkin seeds have been used for years as a natural remedy for enlarged prostates, thanks to protective compounds called phytosterols. Pumpkin seeds are also thought to help urinary tract infections in women.
How to Eat More: Roasting pumpkin seeds helps to bring out their natural flavour, they are especially delicious sprinkled over salads or make delicious pumpkin bread. Snack on them raw or roasted, add to granola bars and trail mix recipes or use to garnish your soup. Pumpkin seed oil can boost salad dressings and dips.
These little seeds are excellent for cellular health, good skin, strong bones, and teeth. They are packed with protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium and phytic acid and low in carbohydrates.
They contain sesamin and sesamolin, substances that may help lower cholesterol levels, and are a well-known source of vitamin E plus omega-6 and monounsaturated fats. These can help to prevent furring of the arteries as well as boost the elasticity of the skin. As an added bonus, sesame seeds are thought to aid digestion, stimulate blood circulation and help the nervous system.
How to Eat More: Snack on sesame seeds or make them into the creamy tahini paste. You can spread this on bread, mix with pureed chickpeas in hummus or use as a sauce with vegetables as the Arabs do. To get the maximum nutrients from sesame seeds you need to chew them well. Add to stir fry vegetables or meats as a sprinkle.
5. Hemp Seeds
Hemp Seeds are exceptionally rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. They contain gamma-linolenic acid, which has been linked with several health benefits. They are a great protein source, as more than 25% of their total calories are from high-quality protein as compared to Chai and Flaxseeds which provide about 16-18% protein.
Hemp seeds are also a great source of vitamin E and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc. Hemp seeds are especially beneficial for vegetarians—the small seeds are considered a complete protein, which means they contain all 9 essential amino acids.
How to Eat More: Toss in salads, shakes, or smoothies, or sprinkle over cereal or yogurt. They also add texture to baked goods.
6. Sunflower Seeds
These underrated super seeds are an excellent source of B vitamins, including folate (which helps prevent birth defects), and vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from damage, helps maintain healthy hair and skin and may work to prevent cancer. They are also rich in protein and heart-healthy fats.
Sunflower seeds are known to protect against heart disease, lower bad LDL cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels.
How to Eat More: Add to soups, salads, rice, porridge or yogurt. Or for breakfast or snack, add to granola, serve up with quinoa or add to mixed nuts. Munch them by the handful, or add them to cookie or muffin recipes, salads, and stir-fries. Avoid salted versions, which often have high levels of sodium.
Three Bonus Seed Serving Suggestions!
- Make up a mix of one part sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds with two parts flax/ linseed. This combination is an effective mix which includes beneficial quantities of essential fatty acids and phytoestrogens.
- Sprinkle on vegetables, cereals, porridge, yogurt, salads or eat as a snack. For best effect grind or crush seeds before serving.
- Seeds are best eaten raw or lightly roasted as cooking on high heat destroys their valuable nutrients. Note: Bread and cakes are baked at low temperatures so it’s OK to pop them in!