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Food & Drink

You're not nuts to love seeds in a healthy diet

| Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, 8:55 p.m.
In combination with other seeds, shelled sunflower seeds are delicious when sprinkled over yogurt, ice cream or salads.
ENVIRONMENTAL NUTRITION
In combination with other seeds, shelled sunflower seeds are delicious when sprinkled over yogurt, ice cream or salads.

Seeds are proof that Mother Nature works in remarkable ways. The bearers of life from the ground up, seeds contain all the makings for an entire plant. And in turn, these little powerhouses are packed with nutritional treasures.

“As a group, seeds offer healthy doses of fiber, protein, beneficial fats and minerals, and are extremely versatile in the kitchen, which makes it easy to enjoy them every day,” says Wendy Bazilian, author of “The SuperFoodsRx Diet” (Rodale Books 2007) Here are stand-outs to sprinkle into your diet.

Chia seeds: Chia (Salvia hispanica) has experienced a renaissance as a nutritious food. On top of providing a payload of dietary fiber — 10 grams in a 1-ounce serving — chia delivers omega-3 fatty acids, as well as the bone-strengthening minerals calcium and phosphorus.

Pumpkin seeds: Also known as pepitas, these olive-green seeds can up the health ante of your diet. Shelled pumpkin seeds are a top-notch source of magnesium, linked with lower diabetes risk and more. An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found higher intakes of magnesium reduce the risk of heart disease by 30 percent. They include a healthy dose of phosphorus, iron and vitamin K.

Hemp seeds: Hemp seeds are blessed with a flavor reminiscent of pine nuts and sunflower seeds. A 3-tablespoon serving delivers 10g of high-quality protein. Hemp protein also has been associated with lowering blood-pressure levels. The mineral windfall of hemp includes magnesium, iron, phosphorus and zinc. And don't overlook hemp's omega fats for better heart health. Some seeds are sold with the hull still intact, but these can be hazardous to your dental work and are less versatile in cooking.

Flax seeds: Nutty-tasting flax is derived from the linseed plant and contains a trifecta of heart-healthy properties: soluble fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and lignans. Lignans are a plant compound shown to help improve cholesterol and lower inflammation.

Sunflower seeds: The kernels of the sun-loving yellow flower are brimming with vitamin E — each ounce provides about half the daily quota. Acting as an antioxidant, vitamin E protects against cell-damaging free radicals that roam the body. Other nutritional perks from these seeds include B vitamins, magnesium and selenium.

Matthew Kadey is a writer for Environmental Nutrition, the independent newsletter written by nutrition experts. Details: environmentalnutrition.com

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