Sometimes the best gifts come in small packages and sometimes the best foods do too. They might not look like much but seeds can pack a hefty nutritional punch. Tiny titans of a healthy diet, seeds contain nutrients like protein, fiber, iron and omega-3 fatty acids.
Jennifer Panicko, Registered Dietitian at NorthShore, discusses the big benefits of adding any of these five seeds to your already healthy diet:
Chia seeds. Packed with fiber, chia seeds are filling and nutrient-rich, adding omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, potassium and iron to the mix too. Their pleasant nutty flavor means they can be consumed raw or added to yogurts, oatmeal and sprinkled on top of favorite whole grain snacks. Recipe: Banana almond overnight oatmeal with chia seeds
Sunflower seeds. With lots of B vitamins, especially folate, sunflower seeds are a great snack for pregnant women and those looking to boost the strength of their immune systems. They also have lots of vitamin E, and, even better, are packed with protein and heart-healthy fats. Go natural and skip the salted variety. Recipe: Shaved squash, sunflower seed and feta salad
Flax seeds. Small but mighty, flax seeds are brimming with nutritional value. They contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, lignans—which are plant-based phytoestrogen that have been shown to lower one’s risk for some types of cancer—and both soluble and insoluble fiber. Make sure to grind the seeds before consuming to ensure you get their full benefits. Recipe: Date and oat muffins with flax seeds
Sesame seeds. The health benefits of sesame seeds go on and on. They are high in antioxidants, which help boost the immune system, and have been shown to lower hypertension and bad cholesterol, and reduce stress levels. With a delicate nutty flavor, they can be added to just about anything. Recipe: Salmon with sesame and orange relish
Pumpkin seeds. A delicious source of B vitamins and iron, pumpkin seeds are also high in a particular amino acid that has been shown to reduce anxiety: tryptophan. They’re also a fantastic source for omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower bad cholesterol levels. Serve them raw or roasted, either will make a healthy snack. Recipe: Corn and quinoa summer salad with toasted pumpkin seeds
What is your favorite seeded recipe?