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 Planting a Seed Can Change Your Life
“To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.”
There are certain events that can rock us to the core: starting a new job, moving across the country, ending a relationship. Within the past three months, I’ve experienced all three of these things.
For someone who is resistant to change, it can be difficult when everywhere I look there’s a new sight to take in, new people to meet, and even a new industry to learn.
Type-A to the bone, I’ve always wanted control over a situation.
When I was seven years old I took a trip in the middle of a teeth-chattering Montana winter with my grandparents to our cabin in the wilderness. We had plans of eating our picnic food that Grandma and I had carefully prepared while sitting next to the fire and playing our favorite card game involving pennies.
Imagine my surprise when after a major snow storm, ten feet of snow greeted us when we arrived and blocked our way into the cabin. “This doesn’t fit my picture,” I told Grandma.
Fast-forward eighteen years, and here I am at the age of twenty-five. During another winter trip (this time for New Year’s) to my family cabin, my then-boyfriend and I sat next to each other in the car driving and talking about our goals for the upcoming year.
I had a really big one (find a new job) and one that I thought would be easy (learn to adapt to change). Little did I know that the seemingly hard one (getting a new job) would come easier than I thought, and the little easy-peasy one would be the biggest struggle I faced this year.
The one thing I can tell you about my resistance to change is that it feels like surrendering to a lack of control. It’s very similar to letting go in many ways, which I feel goes hand in hand with a resistance to change.
Many people often want to cling to the past, even if it’s lonely and makes us cry, because it feels more comfortable than doing the thing that scares us so much: letting go and embracing the change that enters our lives.
This hasn’t been easy. As I write this it’s something I struggle with. There are good days and very bad days. And that feeling of giving up on a past that I held so dearly feels like surrendering to failure. But I’ve learned to deal with it by doing one very simple thing: I plant seeds.
What is planting a seed? It’s the simple act of setting something into motion that will help you create the life you want to lead. It’s taking a moment of sorrow and realizing that you can use it to fuel you.
Now whenever I feel the surge of anxiety about my new life or start imagining my ex with someone new, I immediately make a physical change.
I get up and write a card to my mom telling her how much I love her. I research networking events on the web, and then I actually go to them. I send e-mail interview requests to people I want to feature on my website.
I call that friend of a friend who says they want to hang out and show me how sparkling Los Angeles, my new home, really can be. I turn my pain into time spent planting seeds for the life I want to lead.
And even though planting a whole garden can seem daunting and full of anxiety in itself, all you have to do is start by planting one seed. And keep adding another one here and there. Take care of those seeds, and before you know it, a little leafy green thing will greet you one day.
Or, in real life, you will have a success at your job or a cute guy will give you a compliment. Nothing is more exciting than seeing your seed turn into something that blooms.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you start planting seeds in your own life:
1. Seeds take time to grow.
A whole garden isn’t created over night, and neither is a dream life.
But, by focusing on the positives, and seeing the little seeds that start to peek out from the earth in the form of something new, we can start to see the progress we are making in our journey to start living the life we’ve always wanted.
2. Seeds must change to grow.
A seed can’t stay a seed forever. When cared for with nourishing soil, rays of sunlight, and water, they change shape and start to become whatever it is they were meant to be.
To really experience positive change, you too, must let go of your past and embrace the transformation that’s about to take place. Have confidence knowing you will take on a better form, even if it takes time.
3. When a seed flowers, everyone recognizes its beauty.
After a seed undergoes a transformation and takes on a new form, everyone appreciates it for whatever it has to offer, whether it’s a smile-inducing sunflower or a crisp carrot.
Each seed has something new, something more to contribute. And how did it get to this point? With time and a transformative change.
Go out there and start planting seeds in your life, no matter how hard or pointless it may seem right now. With a little time, patience and hard work, what now seems like an empty dirt plot will be filled with beauty and growth.
Just like a beautiful flower attracts butterflies, your life will be a magnet to the right kind of people that will truly make it one worth living.
Start planting seeds in your life and with a little patience and hard work, what now seems like an empty dirt plot will be filled with beauty and growth.