Seeds and their Benefits

In response to customer requests, Sue’s Gluten Free have recently started to stock a variety of seeds. I thought it was quite timely to share some of the benefits of those currently available.

Sunflower Seeds are the perfect phytochemical-rich seed for those of us looking to lose weight, as they promote healthy digestion and increase fiber intake.

If you’re looking for a health-promoting snack, enjoy a handful of mild nutty tasting sunflower seeds with their firm but tender texture to take care of your hunger and get a wealth of nutrition at the same time. Sunflower seeds are the gift of the beautiful sunflower that has rays of petals emanating from its bright yellow, seed-studded center. The flower produces grayish-green or black seeds encased in tear-dropped shaped gray or black shells that oftentimes feature black and white stripes. Since these seeds have a very high oil content, they are one of the main sources of polyunsaturated oil.

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E travels throughout the body neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise damage fat-containing structures and molecules, such as cell membranes, brain cells, and cholesterol. By protecting these cellular and molecular components, vitamin E has significant anti-inflammatory effects that result in the reduction of symptoms in asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, conditions where free radicals and inflammation play a big role. Vitamin E has also been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer, help decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes in women going through menopause, and help reduce the development of diabetic complications.

In addition, vitamin E plays an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Vitamin E is one of the main antioxidants found in cholesterol particles and helps prevent free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol. Only after it has been oxidized is cholesterol able to adhere to blood vessel walls and initiate the process of atherosclerosis, which can lead to blocked arteries, heart attack, or stroke. Getting plenty of vitamin E can significantly reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis. In fact, studies show that people who get a good amount of vitamin E are at a much lower risk of dying of a heart attack than people whose dietary intake of vitamin E is marginal or inadequate.

Sesame seeds are very high in calcium, magnesium, zinc, fiber, iron, B1 and phosphorus, sesame seeds are unique in their chemical structure. Possessing important cholesterol-fighting fibers known as lignans, studies show that these seeds can lower blood pressure, as well as protect the liver from damage. Sesame seeds also may help prevent many health problems, including PMS. Traditional societies have touted the positive benefits of this seed for thousands of years.

Some scientific studies have shown that the components of pumpkin seeds may stop the triggering of cancerous behavior in male prostate cells

Pumpkin seeds are high in a form of antioxidant known as carotenoids, a special plant derivative that enhances immune activity and disease fighting capacities. These seeds are also high in omega-3 fatty acids and zinc, two important nutrients that may play a role in supporting skeletal health. Finally, pumpkin seed are high in phytosterols, plant components that aid in keeping stable levels of cholesterol and enhanced immune response.

Pumpkin seeds carry good-quality protein. 100 g seeds provide 30 g or 54% of recommended daily allowance of protein. Also, the seeds are an excellent source of amino acid tryptophan and glutamate. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin and niacin. Serotonin is a beneficial neurochemical often labeled as nature’s sleeping pill. Further, tryptophan is the precursor of B-complex vitamin, niacin (60 mg of tryptophan = 1 mg niacin).

Pumpkin kernels are also an excellent source of the B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folates. These vitamins work as cofactors for various enzymes during cellular substrate metabolism in the human body.

Chia seeds are a member of the mint family and are native to southern Mexico and Guatemala. Extremely tiny, yet extremely potent, these small seeds are packed full of fiber, protein, nutrient oils, various antioxidants and even calcium.

Chia seeds have become one of the most popular superfoods in the health community. They are easy to digest when prepared properly, and are a very versatile ingredient that adds easily to recipes. The chia seed is nutrient dense and packs a punch of energy boosting power. Aztec warriors ate chia seeds to give them high energy and endurance.  They said just 1 spoonful of chia could sustain them for 24 hours.  Chia means “strength” in the Mayan language, and they were known as “runners’ food” because runners and warriors would use them as fuel while running long distances or during battle. Chia seed benefits include promoting healthy skin, reducing signs of aging, supporting the heart and digestive system, building stronger bones and muscles and more.

Studies show that chia seeds stabilize the blood sugar, promote heart health, as well as increase weight loss. These amazing little seeds are an excellent source of high-quality fats, as they are made up of a whopping 34% pure omega-3 oils.

Although Flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its primary healthy reputation to three of them:

  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown tohave heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
  • Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
  • Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types. Hailed with burning body fat, being high in omega-3s and charged with fibre, these little seeds can really fire up your metabolism

The seeds from the flax plant can be used whole, ground to make meal or used to create a vegetable oil known as flaxseed oil (or linseed oil). Flaxseed is one of the most concentrated plant sources of omega-3 fats. Flaxseeds contain 50 to 60 per cent omega-3 fatty acids in the form of alpha linolenic acid. Flaxseeds are also rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, dietary fibre, a group of phytoestrogens called lignans, protein and potassium

Flaxseeds are an ideal way for those who don’t eat sufficient oily fish to ensure they get enough omega-3. Ideally, buy the seeds whole and grind them in a blender to make the meal. Flaxseed meal can also be used as a binder or egg substitute in baked goods for people who are allergic to eggs. The seeds can be sprinkled on fruit, vegies, cereal and yoghurt, while flaxseed meal can be used in baking or to bulk out meat dishes. This way you increase your omega-3 levels and fibre intake at the same time.

Add any or all of these incredible foods to your diet and enjoy the difference they make. All these seeds are available either in store on online.