Why You Should Eat More Seeds18 June, 2018
Move over nuts–seeds are the new hot food topper! I am excited about this topic because seeds packs a MAJOR nutrition punch that so many of us are missing out on. Plus, it is super easy to add them into your diet because they can be mixed in or used as a topper to so many meals. (There are tons of great ideas shared below. Did you know you can make a flax seed “egg” to use in vegan recipes?!)
Read on for a great review of seeds and why you should eat more by a Millennial Nutrition intern, Alexis Luna, BS, NDTR. And when you finish, hit up Sprouts and get your hands on some chia, hemp, and flax seeds that you can keep in cute glass jars on your counter and sprinkle on eve. ry. thing.
Seeds don’t get the praise they deserve as a nutritious part of a balanced diet. They are quite versatile and easy to incorporate into a variety of meals and snacks. Sprinkle them on salads, yogurt, breakfast cereals, pancake mix, blend in with a smoothie–you name it!
Like nuts, seeds are a healthy source of fat and also provide protein, minerals, vitamins and fiber. The typical serving size of seeds is one ounce or 2 tablespoons (picture a thumb-size amount) and has about 130-160 calories per serving. Even though seeds are high in “good” fats, they are more calorie dense so I suggest you don’t eat that huge Costco-size bag of “superseed” trail mix in one sitting! It’s important to practice portion control with both seeds and nuts.
One ounce of chia seeds provides 140 calories, 5 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 9 grams of fat, 10 grams of fiber and is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Chia is also an excellent source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The biggest bang for your buck is the fiber content at a whopping 10 g! That’s almost HALF of what the average healthy individual needs in one day (around 25 to 30 g per day). Fiber is super important for the body so make sure you add chia to your cereal, ok?
One ounce of hemp seeds provides 160 calories, 9 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbohydrate, 12 grams of fat, and 2 grams of fiber. Hemp seeds are protein packed, containing all 10 essential amino acids making it a complete plant-based protein source. They also contain omega fatty acids that are good for heart health. Hemp seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese. Try adding hemp seed to a green protein shake after a workout sesh for an extra protein punch!
One ounce of flax seeds provides 150 calories, 5 grams of protein, 8 grams of carbohydrate, 12 grams of fat, and 8 grams of fiber. One serving provides about 2 g of plant omega-3’s which are great for heart health! (Starting to see a trend here?). Flax are loaded with lignans, which are known for their antioxidant qualities (cancer fighting!) and of course, fiber (both soluble and insoluble, which is a big plus). There is research that indicates flax may reduce risks of certain cancers as well as cardiovascular disease and lung disease. In other words, add flax to EVERYTHING! 🙂
Ways to incorporate seeds into your everyday routine
When it comes to chia seeds, I usually buy them in bulk from my local health food store. It tends to be cheaper that way. I also LOVE adding a serving of chia seeds to a liter of water and leave it in the fridge overnight. When I get up in the morning and open the fridge, I am awaited by a big bottle of cold fresh chia water. It tastes nutty and delicious and the mixture turns into a gelatinous delight–it is an acquired taste but give it try! (Tip from Gillean: I like to add them to coconut water!) I also like adding chia to my oatmeal, yogurt, salads, and salad dressing. Chia seed pudding is a popular and delicious way to eat them too!
Hemp seeds are a little harder to come by in the bulk section as they’re not as popular as chia and flax (YET), but you can find them in most health food stores. They taste buttery and nutty and have a soft texture which is unique compared to other seeds. I like to add hemp to my cereal and yogurt for a protein boost in addition to pea protein milk (a delicious and nutritious combo!).
And finally, flax seeds. I add flax to just about everything I mentioned above. I especially like to add flax to pancake or cake mix as they make the baked good thicker and fluffier. Also, if you’re vegan, you can substitute flax in place of eggs. It’s called a flax egg–1 tablespoon of flax and 3 tablespoons water. Stir it well and wait about ten minutes to create an emulsifier for your egg-free recipe.
So, how are you going to add more seeds to your diet? Start simple. Add one serving of seeds to at least one meal a day and show me your nutritious deliciousness by tagging @millennialnutrition on your social post so I can give you a virtual high-five!
Alexis Luna, BS, NDTR loves food and helping others find simple ways to improve their overall health. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Arizona State University in 2017 and currently working as a Nutrition and Dietetic Technician, Registered (NDTR) for the Maricopa County government Women, Infants, and, Children (WIC) nutritional support program in Phoenix, Arizona. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family, going to concerts, hanging out with her chihuahua, walking in nature, and cooking healthy meals. You can follow her on social media for nutrition tips and foodie pics on Twitter @luna_nutrition, Instagram @bluberrylec, and learn more about her upcoming side business as a personal chef nutritionist at www.alexislunanutrition.com.