My Love Affair with Seeds
By: Maggie Park
Eating seeds is not that weird. In fact, the ground below the bleachers at any little league field is strewn with the shells of sunflower seeds.
So why do people think we are a little off our rocker when we tell them that we chow down on chia seeds, hemp seeds, or pumpkin seeds? Seeds are packed full of nutrients, such as protein, minerals, vitamins, and fiber. So dig in. Seeds aren’t just for planting anymore. Here are some favorites.
Hemp seeds seem magical. Just a tablespoon or two mixed into an entrée keeps you full for what seems like forever. This comes in handy for anyone who works in an environment where mealtimes are highly unpredictable. And don’t worry, hemp seeds may seem magical, but they won’t make you fail any drug tests.
Hemp seeds derive their magic from amino acids and fatty acids. In fact, hemp seeds have every amino acid necessary for life. If you remember your high school biology, then you know that amino acids are the building blocks of protein, making hemp seeds an ideal, natural alternative for vegans, body-builders, and anyone trying to maintain a healthy weight. In addition, hemp seeds have a beneficial ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids (3:1), a ratio that has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Finally, hemp seeds are one of the few sources of the beneficial fat called gamma linoleic acid (GLA). GLA is important to your metabolism. It also reduces inflammation, which is beneficial to many sufferers of chronic diseases, such as asthma and arthritics.
GLA also reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. Finally, GLA may reduce hormone-related symptoms, such as those associated with PMS. Now, that is some serious magic!
Chia seeds are fun little seeds that are versatile and beneficial. Probably the primary reason most people eat chia seeds is that they expand and form a gel when mixed with liquid. This means they expand in your stomach, keeping you satiated for hours.
But chia seeds are more than the poor man’s stomach stapler. They actually contain more calcium than a glass of milk and as many omega-3 fatty acids as a serving of salmon. In addition, they are packed with vitamins and minerals.
And for vegans, chia gel (chia seeds mixed with water) makes a great egg substitute. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, chia seeds slow the body’s conversion of carbohydrates into sugar, possibly preventing diabetes.
These seeds are truly a great way to get more nutrients out of your food. But their faddish popularity means you must be careful to buy quality products. Don’t eat the seeds that came with your chia pet, and don’t buy seeds from China.
To be well absorbed by the human body, flax seeds need to be ground. Fortunately, it is easy to find ground flax seeds at local markets and even big-box stores. Like hemp seeds, flax seeds are a complete source of protein.
However, they historically have been used as a digestive aid since, like chia seeds, ground flax seeds expand in water and form a gluey substance that helps food make its way through the digestive tract. Because they have such a high fiber content that contains lignans, flax seeds are thought to help lower cholesterol.
Today flax seeds are best known for their high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are woefully absent from the American diet, and flax seeds are a great supplement for this omission.
Almost all food in the American food supply promotes acidity, a condition that leads to a myriad of chronic illnesses. Since the body functions optimally on the cellular level when it is near a balanced pH, then eating food that promote alkalinity is ideal. Pumpkin seeds are one of these foods.
Naturally, pumpkin seeds are a great source of protein and fiber. But you can also find zinc, which prevents osteoporosis.
They also have anti-inflammatory properties that can eliminate the need for anti-inflammatory drugs when arthritis pain appears. In addition to the usual vitamins and minerals, pumpkin seeds contain L-tryptophan, which helps us sleep and lowers incidents of depression.
Seeds are powerhouses of nutrients. So eat and enjoy these magical foods. If eating seeds is new for you, go ahead and start with those sunflower seeds. They are nutritionally amazing, too. And you’ll fit right in at the little league game.