6 Super Healthy Seeds You Should Eat
Seeds contain all the starting materials necessary to develop into complex plants. Because of this, they are extremely nutritious.
Seeds are great sources of fiber. They also contain healthy monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and many important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
When consumed as part of a healthy diet, seeds can help reduce blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.
This article will describe the nutritional content and health benefits of six of the healthiest seeds you can eat.
Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are a great source of fiber and omega-3 fats, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
However, the omega-3 fats are contained within the fibrous outer shell of the seed, which humans can’t digest easily.
Therefore, if you want to increase your omega-3 levels, it’s best to eat flaxseeds that have been ground ( 1 , 2 ).
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of flaxseeds contains a wide mix of nutrients (3):
- Calories: 152
- Fiber: 7.8 grams
- Protein: 5.2 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 2.1 grams
- Omega-3 fats: 6.5 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 1.7 grams
- Manganese: 35% of the RDI
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 31% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 28% of the RDI
Flaxseeds also contain a number of different polyphenols, especially lignans, which act as important antioxidants in the body ( 4 ).
Lignans, as well as the fiber and omega-3 fats in flaxseeds, can all help reduce cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease ( 5, 6, 7 ).
One large study combined the results of 28 others, finding that consuming flaxseeds reduced levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol by an average of 10 mmol/l ( 8 ).
Flaxseeds may also help reduce blood pressure. An analysis of 11 studies found that flaxseeds could reduce blood pressure especially when eaten whole every day for more than 12 weeks ( 9 ).
A couple of studies have shown that eating flaxseeds may reduce markers of tumor growth in women with breast cancer, and may also reduce cancer risk ( 10 , 11 , 12 ).
This may be due to the lignans in flaxseeds. Lignans are phytoestrogens and are similar to the female sex hormone estrogen.
What’s more, similar benefits have been shown regarding prostate cancer in men ( 13 ).
In addition to reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer, flaxseeds may also help reduce blood sugar, which may help lower the risk of diabetes ( 14 ).
Summary: Flaxseeds are an excellent source of fiber, omega-3 fats, lignans and other nutrients. A lot of evidence has shown they may reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and even the risk of cancer.
Chia seeds are very similar to flaxseeds because they are also good sources of fiber and omega-3 fats, along with a number of other nutrients.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of chia seeds contains (15):
- Calories: 137
- Fiber: 10.6 grams
- Protein: 4.4 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 0.6 grams
- Omega-3 fats: 4.9 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 1.6 grams
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 15% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDI
- Manganese: 30% of the RDI
Like flaxseeds, chia seeds also contain a number of important antioxidant polyphenols.
Interestingly, a number of studies have shown that eating chia seeds can increase ALA in the blood. ALA is an important omega-3 fatty acid that can help reduce inflammation ( 16 , 17 ).
Your body can convert ALA into other omega-3 fats, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are the omega-3 fats found in oily fish. However, this conversion process in the body is usually quite inefficient.
One study has shown that chia seeds may be able to increase levels of EPA in the blood ( 18 ).
Chia seeds may also help reduce blood sugar. A couple of studies have shown that whole and ground chia seeds are equally effective for reducing blood sugar immediately after a meal ( 19 , 20 ).
Another study found that, as well as reducing blood sugar, chia seeds may reduce appetite ( 14 ).
Chia seeds may also reduce risk factors of heart disease ( 21 ).
A study of 20 people with type 2 diabetes found that eating 37 grams of chia seeds per day for 12 weeks reduced blood pressure and levels of several inflammatory chemicals, including C-reactive protein (CRP) ( 22 ).
Summary: Chia seeds are a good source of omega-3 fats and are effective at lowering blood sugar and reducing risk factors for heart disease.
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of vegetarian protein. In fact, they contain more than 30% protein, as well as many other essential nutrients.
Hemp seeds are one of the few plants that are complete protein sources, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids that your body can’t make.
Studies have also shown that the protein quality of hemp seeds is better than most other plant protein sources ( 23 ).
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of hemp seeds contains ( 24 ):
- Calories: 155
- Fiber: 1.1 grams
- Protein: 8.8 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 0.6 grams
- Polyunsaturated fat: 10.7 grams
- Magnesium: 45% of the RDI
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 31% of the RDI
- Zinc: 21% of the RDI
The proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in hemp seed oil is roughly 3:1, which is considered a good ratio. Hemp seeds also contain gamma-linolenic acid, an important anti-inflammatory fatty acid ( 25 ).
For this reason, many people take hemp seed oil supplements.
Hemp seed oil may have a beneficial effect on heart health by increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood ( 26 , 27 , 28 ).
The anti-inflammatory action of the omega-3 fatty acids may also help improve symptoms of eczema.
One study found that people with eczema experienced less skin dryness and itchiness after taking hemp seed oil supplements for 20 weeks. They also used skin medication less, on average ( 29 ).
Summary: Hemp seeds are a great source of protein and contain all the essential amino acids. Hemp seed oil may help reduce symptoms of eczema and other chronic inflammatory conditions.
Sesame seeds are commonly consumed in Asia, and also in Western countries as part of a paste called tahini.
Similar to other seeds, they contain a wide nutrient profile. One ounce (28 grams) of sesame seeds contains (30):
- Calories: 160
- Fiber: 3.3 grams
- Protein: 5 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 5.3 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 6 grams
- Copper: 57% of the RDI
- Manganese: 34% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 25% of the RDI
Like flaxseeds, sesame seeds contain a lot of lignans, particularly one called sesamin. In fact, sesame seeds are the best known dietary source of lignans.
A couple of interesting studies have shown that sesamin from sesame seeds may get converted by your gut bacteria into another type of lignan called enterolactone ( 31 , 32 ).
Enterolactone can act like the sex hormone estrogen, and lower-than-normal levels of this lignan in the body have been associated with heart disease and breast cancer ( 33 ).
Another study found that postmenopausal women who ate 50 grams of sesame seed powder daily for five weeks had significantly lower blood cholesterol and improved sex hormone status ( 34 ).
Sesame seeds may also help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which can worsen symptoms of many disorders, including arthritis.
One study showed that people with knee osteoarthritis had significantly fewer inflammatory chemicals in their blood after eating about 40 grams of sesame seed powder every day for two months ( 35 ).
Another recent study found that after eating about 40 grams of sesame seed powder per day for 28 days, semi-professional athletes had significantly reduced muscle damage and oxidative stress, as well as increased aerobic capacity ( 36 ).
Summary: Sesame seeds are a great source of lignans, which may help improve sex hormone status for estrogen. Sesame seeds may also help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
Pumpkin seeds are one of the most commonly consumed types of seeds, and are good sources of phosphorus, monounsaturated fats and omega-6 fats.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of pumpkin seeds contains (37):
- Calories: 151
- Fiber: 1.7 grams
- Protein: 7 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 4 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 6 grams
- Manganese: 42% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 37% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 33% of the RDI
Pumpkin seeds are also good sources of phytosterols, which are plant compounds that may help lower blood cholesterol ( 38 ).
These seeds have been reported to have a number of health benefits, likely due to their wide range of nutrients.
One observational study of more than 8,000 people found that those who had a higher intake of pumpkin and sunflower seeds had a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer ( 39 ).
Another study in children found that pumpkin seeds may help lower the risk of bladder stones by reducing the amount of calcium in urine ( 40 ).
Bladder stones are similar to kidney stones. They’re formed when certain minerals crystalize inside the bladder, which leads to abdominal discomfort.
A couple of studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil can improve symptoms of prostate and urinary disorders ( 41 , 42 ).
These studies also showed that pumpkin seed oil may reduce symptoms of overactive bladder and improve quality of life for men with enlarged prostates.
A study of postmenopausal women also found that pumpkin seed oil may help reduce blood pressure, increase “good” HDL cholesterol and improve menopause symptoms ( 43 ).
Summary: Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are good sources of monounsaturated and omega-6 fats, and may help improve heart health and symptoms of urinary disorders.
Along with a healthy diet, seeds can help reduce blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. Here are 6 super seeds to eat for better health.
How to Make Seed Bars
How to Make Seed Bars! An easy recipe for nut-free, oil-free, paleo-approved energy bars that are super crunchy, energizing and addicting! The perfect snack!
Here’s a simple recipe for Seed Bars – that are nut-free, grain-free, oil-free, paleo energy bars that only take 5 minutes of hands-on time before baking in the oven. High in protein and fiber, these energy bars make for a simple breakfast on the go or an energy-boosting midday snack!
Because they are full of little scrubbing seeds they do a great job of keeping one regular, which I’m hearing can be an issue with Paleo or Keto diets.
What I personally love about them is how convenient they are as a “grab and go” snack- keeping me feeling energized and fueled whether I’m running errands,hiking or cross-country skiing. Easily transportable, I keep a little zip-lock bag tucked away in the glove compartment of my car for hunger emergencies. Pretty handy.
How to make Seed Bars! | 45-sec video!
Super Seeds- pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, and hemp seeds are packed full of nutrients – fiber, protein and health-boosting vitamins and minerals – nutritional powerhouses!
Honey works the best here but you can keep them vegan and use real maple syrup if you like, but my personal favorite is using honey.
The flavor is better with honey and honey seems to be a better binder.
We are on our third batch this month. I just make the Seed Bars and leave them out on the counter in the kitchen for easy snacking. They magically disappear!
Also, leaving them out, uncovered also keeps them nice and crisp.
Tell me what you think … I hope you love these Seed Bars as much as we do.
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- Author: Sylvia Fountaine
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 55
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 10
- Category: snack, gluten-free, bar
- Method: baked
- Cuisine: northwest
Seed Bars! Nut-free, oil-free, grain-free, paleo approved energy bars that only take 5 minutes of hands on time before baking in the oven. High in protein and fiber, these all natural bars make for a simple breakfast on the go or energy boosting midday snack!
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds ( raw)
- ½ cup sunflower seeds ( raw)
- 1 heaping cup large flaked coconut (unsweetened)
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- ¼ cup flax seeds ( or sub hemp seeds )
- generous pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup honey ( warmed for easier mixing- heat jar in a hot water bath) or maple syrup– see notes
preheat oven to 325F (300 F if electric oven)
Mix the seeds and salt together in a medium bowl. Stir in vanilla and warm honey, until uniformly combined.
Place a piece of parchment in an 8 x 8 baking pan ( all the way up the sides too) . Spray lightly with oil.
Pour seed mix into lightly greased, parchment-lined pan and using a wet metal spatula, spread it out, into corners and edges and press down firmly until you have a compacted, smooth surface at a uniform depth.
Place on the middle rack in the oven for 40-55 minutes. Check at 25 minutes adjusting heat down to 300F, if edges seem too brown. For a chewy consistency, take out at 40-45 minutes, for a crispier crunchy consistency, let it cook the full 50 -55 minutes. Keep in mind, all ovens are different, so heat may vary. The key is….You want to take them out when they are perfectly golden, before they get too dark. So keep a close eye on them after 40 minutes. If you take them out too early (before they are golden) they may be too chewy and sticky. Pay attention to the color.
For example, I’ve cooked these in two different ovens. In the gas oven, 50-55 minutes delivered perfectly golden bars. In the electric oven, 40 minutes were enough for perfectly golden. 55 minutes would have totally burnt them.
Remove from oven, and cool completely. You could place in the fridge to cool faster. When it’s completely cooled, take the parchment out of the pan, turn it over and remove parchment. Flip back over and cut into desired shapes or bars. Store at room temp.
To keep them crisp, wrap very lightly in parchment. Sealing them too tightly may cause them to get soft. I usually just leave them on a plate uncovered on the counter. Keeps up to 10 days.
You can easily make these vegan by substituting maple syrup and add 1 tablespoon ground flax. They will be slightly more crumbly, but not too bad.
Do NOT use sugar-free syrup- it will NOT work here. Honey or real maple.
If you don’t have an 8×8 pan, you could make “crackle” on a sheet pan. Basically place mixture on a parchment lined sheet pan, pressing down hard with spatula, into an 8-10 inch round. It will spread out and become thin in the oven. Check at 35-40 minutes and pull it out when it is deeply golden. Let it cool completely. Break apart into crackle.
Keywords: seed bars, seed bar recipe, paleo seed bar, gluten free granola bar, keto granola bar, grain free granola bar, granola bar recipes, keto bars,
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Seed Bars – nut-free, grain-free, oil-free, Paleo approved Energy Bars that only take 5 minutes of hands-on time before baking in the oven.