It's easy to forget about seeds.
They're small, somewhat bland and we normally associate the little guys with things like bird food and hippies.
But, it's about time we gave them their due.
Most are rich sources of the protein and essential minerals.
They pack some more pretty cool benefits, too, some contain cholesterol-lowering properties and omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation (and give you gorgeous skin).
Oh, and did we mention they can burn fat, too?
The beauty is that they're pretty benign, in that you can add them to smoothies or top them on salads and veggies without hardly noticing they're there.
But trust us, they're there, and they're working hard for your body.
Here are the top six you should be eating now:
Also known as pepitas, these often surface in the fall, when fresh pumpkins are plenty, or in the spring around the ball-park.
But with their super-high protein, mineral and antioxidant content, you’ll want to snack on them year-round!
Key benefits: They protect against cancer and keeps you feeling full for longer.
How they work: They're loaded with filling protein (five g. per oz.) and almost half of your daily manganese, a trace mineral that converts carbs and fats to energy and promotes healthy bones and tissue.
Manganese is also an antioxidant, which fights cancer-causing free radicals in the body.
Taste: Sweet and nutty.
How to eat: Snack on them raw or toasted as-is, or mix them into salads, granola and yogurt or grind and mix into sauces or pesto.
This tiny seed sparked the oft-used phrase “open sesame” after harvesters noticed the bursting action the sesame pod makes when it matures.
It’s commonly used as a crunchy topper for salads, stir-fry's and burger buns, while the dark, flavorful oil adds a punch of flavor to Asian dishes.
Key benefits: Fat-burning and cholesterol-lowering.
How they work: Hidden within are lignans, plant chemical compounds that may stimulate your liver to break down fatty acids, causing a fat-burning effect.
These same lignans have been shown to lower cholesterol levels in the body.
Taste: Subtle, but its nutty flavor is enhanced by toasting.
How to eat: Sprinkle whole on salads or steamed veggies, use sesame oil in dressings, marinades and stir-fry's or spread sesame butter on toast.
Ounce per ounce, these little guys actually contain more omega-3 than salmon, which is often viewed as the best source of the fatty acid.
They also absorb liquid in your body and expand to about 12 times their own weight, causing you to feel full for longer.
Key benefits: They fight inflammation and suppresses appetite.
How they work: Chia boasts a similar omega-3 profile as flax, which combats inflammation in your body.
How to eat: Unlike flax, chia seeds don’t need to be ground in order for your body to access the myriad of nutrients inside.
Add them to smoothies and yogurt, or soak them in water to create a chia gel, which can be turned into thick puddings.
The edible seeds of the blue flowering flax plant are the richest plant-based source of essential omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation and promote heart health.
They’re also loaded with heart-healthy fiber (eight g. per Tbs.), which helps digestion.
Key benefits: They fight inflammation, disease, and support breast health.
How they work: Our bodies need a balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in our diets of about 4:1.
The average North American diet has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of about 16:1, which means we’re getting four times more omega-6 than we should.
Since these high levels of omega-6 can increase inflammation, nutritionists believe this imbalance to be a major reason behind the rapid increase in inflammatory diseases, such as asthma, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Flaxseeds contain a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, 1,800 mg per tablespoon, so incorporating them into your diet will help you fight inflammation and balance out the omega-6 in your diet.
They're also the highest food source of lignans, plant chemicals that may reduce breast cancer risk in women.
Taste: Subtle and slightly nutty.
How to eat: These hard-shelled little guys need to be ground up into a fine powder in order for your body to absorb the nutrients, otherwise they’ll just pass right through your system with little benefit.
Buy them whole and grind in a clean coffee grinder, or save time and buy them pre-ground.
Once ground, add a tablespoon to smoothies, oatmeal and baked goods.
Flax oil is available in most supermarkets and health food stores, it’s great for drizzling over salads, but don’t cook with it.
These heart-shaped seeds belong to the cannibus family, but they’re totally legal and only contain 0.001 per cent of THC, not nearly enough to cause any kind of psychoactive effect.
Key benefits: Fights inflammation, promotes relaxation and is a complete vegetarian protein.
How they work: Their claim to fame is that they're a rare food source that contains the ideal balance of omega-6 to omega-3 (they come in at about 3.75:1).
They're also the only food source of GLA (gamma linolenic acid), a fatty acid that helps balance hormones, fight inflammation and promote healthy skin and hair.
Just one ounce contains almost half of your daily magnesium, which is a natural relaxant.
Taste: Very nutty, almost quinoa-like; texture is chewy and slightly creamy on the inside.
How to eat: Blend into smoothies or eat whole sprinkled over top of yogurt and granola or salads.
You're probably used to tossing these in the bird feeder every once in a while, but there's good reason to save them for yourself!
They're chewy and have a wonderfully sweet flavor, especially when lightly toasted, and are great for snacking.
Key benefits: Boosts fertility and fights cancer.
How they work: They're a rich source of zinc, which has been shown to boost reproductive health in men.
They’re also extremely high in vitamin-E and selenium, which are both powerful antioxidants that fight cancer-causing free radicals in your body.
Taste: Sweet and almost peanut-like.
How to eat: Snack on them whole or on salads or roasted veggies, toss sunflower sprouts into smoothies, spread sunflower butter on toast or use sunflower oil in cooking.Tweet
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