Whether you're the type of person who likes to sprinkle seeds over a salad, roast them in the oven, or eat them by the handful, you'll be glad to know that seeds contain key nutrients.
While nuts come from trees and legumes—in the case of peanuts—seeds like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax and chia seeds come from veggies, flowers, and crops. Both nuts and seeds contain protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats. And each can be easily added to any recipe to give you a boost of nutrients.
However, we think it's time to give seeds their own time in the spotlight!
Benefits of Seeds
Many seeds contain the following minerals:
- Iron- which helps your red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to all the other parts of your body.
- Calcium - which helps strengthen bones and teeth, improves blood clotting, allows your muscles to contract, and regulates normal heart rhythms.
- Magnesium - which assists enzymes in carrying out various chemical reactions, such as building proteins and strong bones and regulating blood sugar.
- Phosphorus - which helps activate enzymes and regulates normal functions of the nerves and muscles, including your heart.
Types of Seeds
There are many different types of seeds that you can either plant, eat, or in some cases, both. In this article, however, we wanted to focus on 4 edible seeds that provide the key nutrients we listed above, as well as a few others.
These seeds include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Chia seeds
If you enjoy carving pumpkins each year, you might find yourself left with a large pile of white shells covered in pumpkin guts. Gross, right? Well, not really. You can easily remove the pulp by soaking it in water for several hours and straining the seeds out.
Most people boil their pumpkin seeds and let them dry before roasting them in the oven—adding a few spices for extra flavor. Of course, if you're not a fan of the shells, you can remove them before eating the seeds.
But here's something you might find interesting: shelled pumpkin seeds actually pack on more fiber: "Whole, roasted pumpkin seeds in their shells contain about 5.2 grams of fiber per serving, while shelled seeds contain just 1.8 grams," (American Heart Association).
This isn't to say that shelled seeds are off the menu: "Pumpkin seeds without shells are still very healthy and contain a good amount of heart-healthy fats and protein. Many of these will have much less sodium…" (Cleveland Clinic).
So, however you decide to eat pumpkin seeds, you can still enjoy the nutrients they offer.
Another seed option with a hard outer shell is the sunflower seed. Maybe you have fond memories of cracking these open during baseball games as a kid, but as an adult, you'll still want to incorporate them into your snack routine.
Packed with beneficial nutrients, such as healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidant compounds, sunflower seeds are rich in iron, magnesium, and calcium. They also contain Vitamin A, B, and C.
Unlike pumpkin seed shells, however, omitting the sunflower seed shells won't cost you any nutritional value. In fact, they're hard to digest, and as you may already know, they're a tad sharp. Therefore, you can either crack them open on your own or find shelled options at a grocery store.
You've probably seen this type of seed advertised on different products and wondered: "What's the big deal with flaxseeds?"
For starters, flaxseed contains fiber, protein, potassium, Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. If you happen to purchase a bag of flaxseeds, they're often already ground up, making it easier to add to smoothies, cereals, and yogurts or to mix in with a baking recipe like muffins or bread.
Flaxseeds are also referred to as a "functional food," as they may offer certain long-term health benefits for your body: "Functional foods are touted to offer benefits beyond their nutritional value, such as lowering cholesterol or improving gut health," (The Nutritional Source).
As with Flaxseeds, chia seeds also contain fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain protein, calcium, zinc, and phosphorus.
"Two tablespoons of chia seeds [...] contain about 140 calories, 4 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, 7 grams of unsaturated fat, 18% RDA for calcium, and trace minerals including zinc and copper. They are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids [and] are a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that cannot be made by the body," (The Nutritional Source).
How to Enjoy the Benefits of Seeds
We hit on a few ideas you can try at home to start enjoying the nutritional benefits of seeds during snack time, including adding seeds to your morning yogurt or smoothie or sprinkling them on top of your salad at lunch.
You can also purchase them in bulk at grocery stores. Just remember that as with nuts, you'll need to pay attention to serving sizes and watch out for any additional ingredients that take away the nutrient boost you're after, such as salt or added sugars.
A quick and easy way to enjoy seeds on the go might be grabbing a Good Measure bar! Our snacks are made with delicious, nutrient-dense ingredients, including pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dark chocolate, peanut and almond butter, and more!