Seeds are where all plant life comes from. They are teeny tiny packages of calories and nutrition, designed to kick start the growth of an entire organism. And in some cases, this nutrition is highly valuable to humans as well.
Many of us may have tried to avoid eating seeds at some point whilst dieting. They are loaded with calories and fats, two things we are told to just avoid when on a diet. But this way of approaching things is not right. The calories in seeds may be high, but the amount of nutrition you get for each calorie you eat is high too. And they may be high in fats, but it turns out that these fats are excellent for us.
The fats found in nuts and seeds are monounsaturated fatty acids, which have been proven to lower our total blood cholesterol, but also to drop our bad cholesterol and triglycerides whilst lifting up our good cholesterol. These fats are amazing for us and they will help to ensure we have healthy hearts.
Seeds are also an amazing source of omega 3 oils. Omega 3 oils are one of the best fats we can eat, but if you don’t like fish or don’t eat animal products, you may miss out on them. This is because they are an essential fatty acid, that is, a fat we can’t make on our own. Many foods have a trace amount of them, but most of the foods richest in them are animal products. Nuts and seeds are an amazing solution to this. Not only do omega 3 oils help to improve our blood cholesterol, but they also are powerful antioxidants, reducing inflammation and improving cell health.
For omega 3 essential fatty acids, eat: hemp seeds, mustard seeds, pumpkin seeds, rapeseed, chia seeds, and flax seeds. Flax seeds are the best, as fifty percent of their total fat content is omega 3.
Nuts and seeds are also rich in omega 6 oils. Omega 6 oils are another essential fatty acid. Although many of us get enough of this one thanks to a diet rich in grains and legumes, if you cut back on these for your health, then you will benefit from the omega 6 oils found in nuts and seeds. A lot of the omega 6 we eat is also heavily processed. When heated too much, omega 6 becomes denatured and oxidized and loses all its healthy properties. So make sure to get it in its raw, natural form.
For omega 6 essential fatty acids, eat: grape seed, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, cottonseed.
A final omega oil not many people have heard of is omega 9. Omega 9 is not an essential fatty acid. Whenever we have enough omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in the right proportions, our bodies will make it. However, it can also be got from our diets. This omega oil promotes healthy immune function and helps the other omega oils to balance our cholesterol.
For omega 9 fatty acids, eat: chia seeds.
With omega oils it is important to ensure you get the balance right. Eating a modern diet we often eat a lot of processed vegetable oil, grains, and pulses. This leads to a very high intake of omega 6, and a comparatively poor intake of omega 3. Not only that, but these sources of omega 6 are overcooked and therefore cancer-promoting. In reality, we need to eat a balance of 1:1 or 1:2, meaning that for every gram of omega 6 we eat, we should eat half a gram to a gram of omega 3. For this reason, supplemental oils such as flax seed oil have proven highly popular, as they will help rebalance a poor diet. But a simpler solution is to eat better in the first place.
Seeds are also an amazing solution for when you cannot eat nuts. Many people who have nut allergies have no problem whatsoever eating seeds, as the allergens found in nuts don’t occur in seeds. Sunflower seed butter, flax seed oil, or a snack of pumpkin seeds may be an excellent way of getting all the benefits that come with eating nuts, but without triggering an allergy.