Seeds – A Healthy Super Snack

seedsYou may have heard that snacking on nuts is a healthy alternative to “junk” food such as potato chips or candy. Like nuts, seeds can be very beneficial to your health. They are rich in healthy unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein, which make for a healthy addition to any meal. Making seeds a part of your daily diet may help to lower your risk of some health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes due to their high phytochemical content. Phytochemicals are chemical compounds found in plants that have been shown to have health benefits.

In addition, seeds contain plant sterols (substances that occur naturally in plant-based foods) that have been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of certain cancers. It’s important to remember that seeds are high in calories due to their fat content, but one serving (about 130 calories in 2 tablespoons) can go a long way in a recipe. It’s also important to be aware of high sodium levels in packaged seeds, but once you know these two guidelines you are good to go!

Here are some quick seed facts:

Sunflower seeds– Sunflower seeds are one of the richest sources of Vitamin E. Vitamin E helps you stay strong and healthy. Sunflower seeds can be eaten right out of the shell or can be sprinkled over salads or added to trail mix recipes.

Flax, Chia, and Hemp Seeds– These seeds have the most heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids (a fat that is essential for your body to function).All three seeds can be added to smoothies for a healthy boost of nutrition. Flax and chia seeds can also be added to your morning oatmeal.

Pumpkin Seeds– Also known as pepita seeds, pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, zinc, and fiber. Magnesium helps keep your bones and muscles strong, while zinc can boost your immune system and help fight off the common cold. Pumpkin seeds can be used in trail mix or sprinkled over salads.

Sesame Seeds– These seeds are especially high in copper, manganese, calcium and magnesium which make them heart healthy. Used in various cuisines around the world, this seed is added as the “crunch factor” in many Asian dishes. Sesame oil is also one of the most popular oils that is used in Asian dishes, and is tasty in stir fries and noodle dishes.

Poppy Seeds– Poppy seeds are high in calcium, iron, zinc, and fiber. Like sesame seeds, poppy seeds are frequently used to add crunchiness to a food and are most commonly seen sprinkled on top of rolls or bagels. You can also add poppy seeds to homemade salad dressings to spice up your salad.

The Formula for Homemade Trail Mix!

  • 50% nuts of your choice– Almonds, cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans, or walnuts. Remember, unsalted is best!
  • 20% dried fruit of your choice– Cranberries, raisins, apple chips, apricots, banana chips, blueberries or figs
  • 20% seeds– sunflower and pumpkin seeds are best
  • 10% fun treats– dark chocolate chips, yogurt covered raisins, pretzels, cereal, small candies, and flaked coconut.

You can make a large batch at the beginning of the week, and eat it as a healthy snack while at school or on-the-go!