3 Super Healthy Seeds You Should Eat

3 Super Healthy Seeds You Should Eat

Seeds contain all the starting materials necessary to develop into complex plants. Because of this, they are extremely nutritious.

Seeds are great sources of fiber. They also contain healthy monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and many important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

When consumed as part of a healthy diet, seeds can help reduce blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.

This article will describe the nutritional content and health benefits of six of the healthiest seeds you can eat.

1. Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are a great source of fiber and omega-3 fats, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

However, the omega-3 fats are contained within the fibrous outer shell of the seed, which humans can’t digest easily.

Therefore, if you want to increase your omega-3 levels, it’s best to eat flaxseeds that have been ground (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).

A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of flaxseeds contains a wide mix of nutrients (3):

Calories: 152
Fiber: 7.8 grams
Protein: 5.2 grams
Monounsaturated fat: 2.1 grams
Omega-3 fats: 6.5 grams
Omega-6 fats: 1.7 grams
Manganese: 35% of the RDI
Thiamine (vitamin B1): 31% of the RDI
Magnesium: 28% of the RDI
Flaxseeds also contain a number of different polyphenols, especially lignans, which act as important antioxidants in the body (4Trusted Source).

Lignans, as well as the fiber and omega-3 fats in flaxseeds, can all help reduce cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease (5,Trusted Source 6,Trusted Source 7Trusted Source).

One large study combined the results of 28 others, finding that consuming flaxseeds reduced levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol by an average of 10 mmol/l (8Trusted Source).

Flaxseeds may also help reduce blood pressure. An analysis of 11 studies found that flaxseeds could reduce blood pressure especially when eaten whole every day for more than 12 weeks (9Trusted Source).

A couple of studies have shown that eating flaxseeds may reduce markers of tumor growth in women with breast cancer, and may also reduce cancer risk (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).

This may be due to the lignans in flaxseeds. Lignans are phytoestrogens and are similar to the female sex hormone estrogen.

What’s more, similar benefits have been shown regarding prostate cancer in men (13Trusted Source).

In addition to reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer, flaxseeds may also help reduce blood sugar, which may help lower the risk of diabetes (14Trusted Source).

SUMMARY:
Flaxseeds are an excellent source of fiber, omega-3 fats, lignans and other nutrients. A lot of evidence has shown they may reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and even the risk of cancer.
2. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are very similar to flaxseeds because they are also good sources of fiber and omega-3 fats, along with a number of other nutrients.

A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of chia seeds contains (15):

Calories: 137
Fiber: 10.6 grams
Protein: 4.4 grams
Monounsaturated fat: 0.6 grams
Omega-3 fats: 4.9 grams
Omega-6 fats: 1.6 grams
Thiamine (vitamin B1): 15% of the RDI
Magnesium: 30% of the RDI
Manganese: 30% of the RDI
Like flaxseeds, chia seeds also contain a number of important antioxidant polyphenols.

Interestingly, a number of studies have shown that eating chia seeds can increase ALA in the blood. ALA is an important omega-3 fatty acid that can help reduce inflammation (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).

Your body can convert ALA into other omega-3 fats, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are the omega-3 fats found in oily fish. However, this conversion process in the body is usually quite inefficient.

One study has shown that chia seeds may be able to increase levels of EPA in the blood (18Trusted Source).

Chia seeds may also help reduce blood sugar. A couple of studies have shown that whole and ground chia seeds are equally effective for reducing blood sugar immediately after a meal (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).

Another study found that, as well as reducing blood sugar, chia seeds may reduce appetite (14Trusted Source).

Chia seeds may also reduce risk factors of heart disease (21Trusted Source).

A study of 20 people with type 2 diabetes found that eating 37 grams of chia seeds per day for 12 weeks reduced blood pressure and levels of several inflammatory chemicals, including C-reactive protein (CRP) (22Trusted Source).

SUMMARY:
Chia seeds are a good source of omega-3 fats and are effective at lowering blood sugar and reducing risk factors for heart disease.

3. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of vegetarian protein. In fact, they contain more than 30% protein, as well as many other essential nutrients.

Hemp seeds are one of the few plants that are complete protein sources, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids that your body can’t make.

Studies have also shown that the protein quality of hemp seeds is better than most other plant protein sources (23Trusted Source).

A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of hemp seeds contains (24Trusted Source):

Calories: 155
Fiber: 1.1 grams
Protein: 8.8 grams
Monounsaturated fat: 0.6 grams
Polyunsaturated fat: 10.7 grams
Magnesium: 45% of the RDI
Thiamine (vitamin B1): 31% of the RDI
Zinc: 21% of the RDI
The proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in hemp seed oil is roughly 3:1, which is considered a good ratio. Hemp seeds also contain gamma-linolenic acid, an important anti-inflammatory fatty acid (25Trusted Source).

For this reason, many people take hemp seed oil supplements.

Hemp seed oil may have a beneficial effect on heart health by increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source).

The anti-inflammatory action of the omega-3 fatty acids may also help improve symptoms of eczema.

One study found that people with eczema experienced less skin dryness and itchiness after taking hemp seed oil supplements for 20 weeks. They also used skin medication less, on average (29Trusted Source).

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