Seeds are not just for planting in the garden. There are many seeds that also offer exceptional nutritional value. Below, you can learn more about five of them.
Chia is an edible seed that comes from Salvia hispanica, which is a plant that grows in the deserts of Mexico. According to Allison Day, author of Whole Bowls: Complete Gluten-Free and Vegetarian Meals to Power Your Day, chia seeds are a “wonderful egg replacement in baking” because of their neutral taste. They’re also high in fibre, protein, calcium, and antioxidants. Late last month, Love Child Organics launched the first instant baby cereal containing chia. It comes in two flavours: oats and chia and buckwheat and chia. Each one is nut-free.
One of B.C.’s foremost advocates for hemp seeds is Adam Hart, author of The Power of Food: 100 Essential Recipes for Abundant Health and Happiness. “If there is any single food to start including in your daily diet, this is it,” Hart writes. He points out in the book that hemp seeds are rounder, greener, and softer than sesame seeds, and they’re filled with protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Allison Day recently wrote a book, Purely Pumpkin: More Than 100 Seasonal Recipes to Share, Savor, and Warm Your Kitchen, that included several seed-based treats. “Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) are a source of healthy fats, fiber, protein, iron, zinc, and Vitamin E, a potent antioxidant,” she wrote. Day advises buying them raw and unsalted “to minimize the chance of rancidity”. Preston Estep III, author of The Mindspan Diet: Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk, Minimize Memory Loss, and Keep Your Brain Young, writes that pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that can only be acquired through diet.
Registered nutritionist Jane Dummer featured quinoa as one of seven seeds in her recent book, The Need for Seeds: How to Make Seeds an Everyday Food in Your Healthy Diet. She praises its “earthy, nutty taste” and points out that it’s gluten-free. It’s the only one of the seven seeds in her book that must be cooked. “In addition to providing protein quality on par with dairy sources, quinoa offers the advantage of being plant-based, making it attractive to vegans and vegetarians,” Dummer wrote on her blog. “Its low glycemic-index value makes it a good option for people with diabetes.”
Interviewed by WebMD, registered dietitian Elisa Zied suggested that sunflower seeds may lower the risk of cardiovascular problems and reduce blood pressure because they contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Livestrong.com has reported that sunflower seeds are also a “good source of vitamin E”, which can protect human cells from being damaged by free radicals. Vitamin E has also been linked to keeping eyes healthy. In addition, sunflower seeds contain iron and niacin.