Seeds are an ancient food with a long list of potential health benefits that continues to grow. They’re full of healthy fats and important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Some seeds are a great natural fast food to grab on-the-go, while other seeds are best added to salads, side dishes and recipes of all kinds.
Get the scoop on our top favorite 5 seeds. These tiny ingredients are nature's sprinkles to add more nutritional value to your foods and snacks.
- Flax Seeds
Flaxseeds are an excellent source of fiber and the richest source of the omega-3 fat ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) compared to all other seeds and nuts. Because the body doesn’t easily digest the whole seed (1), it’s best to eat ground flaxseeds so you’re sure to absorb all the valuable nutrients. In several studies (2, 3, 4) flaxseeds have helped lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and other risk factors for heart disease.
Ground flaxseeds can be easily mixed into non-dairy yogurt, smoothies, baked goods and chili or casseroles.
- Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are the tiniest of seeds and are a member of the mint family. Every 2 tablespoons packs 10 grams of fiber! That’s 30-40% of the recommended fiber most people need for the day. For people with diabetes or pre-diabetes, chia seeds may help lower post-meal blood sugar because of this high fiber content. Just like flax seeds, chia seeds are an excellent source of ALA, but also calcium, magnesium and phosphorus – 3 important nutrients for bone health.
Chia seeds don’t need to be ground like flax seeds and are also easy to add to your diet. Mix these tiny seeds with non-dairy yogurt, sprinkle on top of vegetables or soups, or try this Peach Chia Parfait.
For a delicious on-the-go snack with chia seeds, try Caveman Foods Grain-free Granola bars.
- Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are loaded with nutrition, including being one of the best natural sources of magnesium. Why is magnesium important? Most Americans don’t get the recommended daily amount of magnesium and it’s really important for:
- Controlling blood pressure
- Reducing heart disease risk
- Making & maintaining healthy bones
- Regulating blood sugar levels
People of all ages benefit from getting enough magnesium, so choose a handful of pumpkins seeds as a mid-afternoon snack or grab a Caveman Foods Salted Almond Butter protein bar or Dark Chocolate Cashew Almond nutrition bar to get your pumpkin seed fix.
Pumpkin seeds are also a good plant-based protein choice with 7 grams of protein in every ounce (¼ cup). Add ¼ cup to homemade trail mix or sprinkle on top of butternut squash soup, your favorite salad or other vegetable side dish to give it a protein boost.
- Sesame Seeds
These seeds haven’t been studied as much as other seeds, but some research shows similar potential health benefits as other seeds, like lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and reducing inflammation. Sesame seeds can also help boost immunity because they have so many of the nutrients that play a key role in immunity (zinc, selenium, copper and iron). Keep in mind you need to eat at least 3 Tablespoons to get enough of a serving of these nutrients to make a difference. Like other seeds, they also have heart healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants.
Try adding sesame seeds to smoothies, hamburgers or meatloaf, and sprinkle a generous amount on stir-fry dishes and steamed vegetables.
Tip: Roast the sesame seeds at 350 degrees for just a few minutes, stirring frequently. This will enhance the flavor and also increase your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients in the seeds.
- Sunflower Seeds
Chia and flax seeds get most of the nutritional spotlight, but sunflower seeds deserve to be highlighted too. When you think sunflower seeds, think brain food. They’re rich in three nutrients -- vitamin E, magnesium and selenium -- that have been shown to help protect the brain. As a matter of fact, the brain uses more vitamin E than any other organ in the body, and just ¼ cup of these seeds gives you 2/3 of the recommended daily intake of vitamin E. Sunflower seeds also offer the same benefits of other seeds – reducing inflammation and risk of heart disease.
Sunflower seeds also provide a not-so-shabby 6 grams of plant-based protein in just ¼ cup.
Add these seeds to burgers, tuna salad or chicken salad for a nutty crunch. Of course, they always make a great topping for salad or non-dairy yogurt. And for on-the-go snacks, eat a handful by itself or mixed with other trail mix ingredients, and many of our Caveman Foods bars have sunflower seeds as a key ingredient, including Nutrition bars, Grain-Free Granola bars and our new Grain-Free Granola Crunch!
With so many potential health benefits and so many seeds to choose from, it’s time to make seeds a part of your daily eating routine.