Seeds are an essential addition to any healthy diet – they aren’t usually as revered as nuts, although they certainly deserve to be. Filled with a beneficial compliment of essential fats, protein, a vast array of different nutrients and phytonutrients, they play an important role in supporting health. Seeds are the embodiment of universal life force; each seed, a little power house of massive potential, designed to grow into an impressive, abundant plant. They are simply bursting with goodness.

Seeds are an excellent alternative to nuts; often less rich (which I personally prefer) and easier to digest. You can find raw shelled seeds or seed-butters in any decent health store.

Nutritional benefits of seeds

Protein and essential amino acids Essential Fats

All seeds are high in essential fats. Flax,chia and hemp seeds come up top for omega-3 – an essential fat that is excellent for heart and brain function, often lacking in most diets. Hemp seed also has a perfect balance of omega 6 -to- omega 3, which is considered to be optimal by health experts.

Seeds are generally an excellent source of protein. Quinoa, amaranth, chia and hemp seeds are particularly noteworthy since they offer complete proteins, meaning that they contain all 9 essential fats required for optimal health. Using a balance of different seeds in your diet will also ensure a great supply of protein.

Nutrient dense

As well as protein, seeds are jam-packed with nutrients. Eating a variety of different seeds, over the course of your week, will ensure that you receive a healthy dose of phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, manganese, zinc, iron, copper, B vitamins, vitamin K and anti-oxidant rich vitamin E (and more). All of these nutrients are essential for supporting health on multiple levels.

Excellent source of fibre

Like most plant-based foods, seeds are naturally full of fibre. Fibre is good for blood sugar control, helping to slow the breakdown of carbohydrates and the absorption of sugar. It is also great for promoting healthy bowel movement, heart health and weight-loss management.

Lower cholesterol and blood pressure

Seeds (to varying degrees) possess important cholesterol-fighting fibres known as lignans. Flax, chia and sesame seeds contain exceptionally beneficial levels – more than most other foods. Studies also show that this beneficial action from seeds can in turn lower blood pressure.

Antioxidant Rich Seeds

All seeds have a beneficial level of antioxidants, whilst some seeds are absolute powerhouses full of the stuff.
Flax, is one of the highest rated antioxidants amongst plant foods, coming up top for polyphenols, which are super stars in the antioxidant world.

I am scratching the surface about the amazing benefits of seeds here in this article – I just wanted to hint at how essential they are in our food choices. Including a variety of seeds, in different forms, will help make sure that you are getting a well-rounded compliment of nutritional benefits. Personally, I wouldn’t want to live without them. And as always, buy organic seeds.

Different ways to include seeds in your diet

Sprouted Seeds

Sprouting seeds tends to make the nutrients more readily available for absorption. Sprouting has the additional benefit of releasing the enzyme inhibitors within seeds making them more easy to digest. The unleashed life force from sprouting, creates such a vibrant and incredibly tasty dish.

Seed paste/butter

Another great way to speed up the release of nutrients is to enjoy them as a seed paste. In this way, the seeds are still whole (in that they have all of their parts included), although they’ve been broken down already, making the nutrients easier to absorb. You can easily buy seed butters in health food stores or if you have a food processor, you can even make your own. Tahini is a great example of a delicious sesame seed butter/paste (although taste varies a lot depending on which brand you buy, so be sure to explore and find a tasty one).

Ground seeds

Grinding raw seeds makes for a good salad sprinkle or addition to a smoothie. Again, breaking them down in this way, means that you stand much more chance of absorbing the nutrients locked within the whole seeds.
Seeds that think they are grains

Quinoa and amaranth, whilst used as a grain, are actually seeds! Quinoa and amaranth both contain a full compliment of essential amino acids, making it a discerning health seekers best friend. They are remarkably nutritious and can be used as gluten-free ‘grain’.

Raw, ‘as they come,’ or roasted

Grabbing a handful of raw or roasted seeds as a snack or sprinkling on top of salads also works a treat too. Remember to chew your seeds well. Unchewed seeds will pass through your digestive system relatively whole; so enjoy the process of chewing your food properly to make the nutrients more bioavailable.

Baking with seeds

You can turn seeds into a meal/flour and use them as part of a baked recipe in place of breadcrumbs or flour. Baking really brings out their flavour and can help give a recipe a delicious taste. Baked whole seeds also make a delicious snack.

Seed oil

Seeds make excellent oils, often a little lighter than nut oil. Whilst I feel it is always best to enjoy a whole seed (one that still has all of it’s parts – even if ground down), oils still offer a great way to get a dose of essential fats in your diet. Hemp seed oil, and sunflower seed oil, are great examples that you might use as part of a salad dressing. Always choose the highest quality, cold pressed oil that you can find. Hemp oil is my favourite. It should actually taste good) and should have a green tint to it. Enjoy oil in moderation – a splash here and there, but don’t overdo it.

Including more seeds in your daily culinary choices

Seeds have found a clever way to weave into my daily culinary choices in many different forms. I often start the day with a smoothie, that includes either ground hulled hemp seeds or tahini. I might enjoy a sprouted seed pate with lunch or a sprinkle of raw (or roasted) seeds on my salad. The dressing on my salad typically contains hemp seed oil, although I also use flax seed oil and sunflower seed oil too. My evening meal might easily contain quinoa, a seed roast or super healthy seed-veggie burger.