Good things indeed come in small packages. Seeds are nutritional powerhouses that pack a ton of goodness, versatility and earthy flavor into crunchy little packages. They liven up any dish with delicious texture while adding a boost of macro- and micro-nutrients effortlessly.
There are the classics, such as sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and trending varieties such as chia seeds (though they’ve been around since the Aztecs). But chances are you’ve been spitting out perfectly edible fruit seeds found in pomegranates and watermelons.
Seeds and seed butters also expand your mealtime options, which is especially useful if your household is nut-free or you’re running out of ideas for lunchbox snacks for your littles. They’re an excellent base for tasty finger foods that fuel energy, not deplete it.
(Speaking of snack foods, don’t miss this month’s new recipe, Lunchbox-Friendly Seed Bars. Packed with collagen protein and fiber, they’re perfect for going back to school or the office!)
Designed to thrive
As the origin of healthy plants, seeds contain all the materials plants need to sustain energy and life within their hard, protective shells – a full spectrum of nutrients that are also a boon to our health.
Whether you want to take better care of your heart, boost your mood or are experiencing digestive issues, seeds contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, including:
- Amino acids
- Healthy fats
With so much to offer, it’s no surprise that seeds enjoy the honor of being called super foods!
But if you’re wondering whether all seeds are edible, the answer is – no. Certain fruit seeds, such as from apples and pears, contain compounds that can be toxic in high amounts. So stick to the tried-and-true list below.
6 sensational, health-boosting seeds
As with other good-for-you foods, seeds contain their own unique profiles and properties that enhance health. With varying amounts of nutrients per serving, you can choose the ones you enjoy based on your specific health goals.
Seeds are known to be high in calories due to their high concentration of good fats from omega-3s and/or omega-6s. But these are fat calories that you should not be afraid of consuming, especially omega-3s. Many seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that delivers whole-body benefits.
Here’s a look at 6 of the healthiest seeds and why they’re so super:
High in protein, polyunsaturated fats, vitamins B1, vitamin E
High in protein, ALA fatty acids, manganese, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, antioxidants
High in protein, ALA fatty acids and fiber; contains vitamin B1, manganese, magnesium
High in protein, ALA fatty acids, fiber and calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and quercetin
High in protein, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, calcium, manganese and copper
Ultra-high in vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc; high in protein, ALA fatty acids and omega-6 fats
Tiny seeds, big benefits
There’s a reason why seeds have been a traditional “health food” for decades and foundational to sustaining life for centuries. Their dense nutrient profiles have been shown to support human health in a variety of ways:
All seeds contain some amount of dietary fiber to add bulk and help keep things moving for a lighter, cleaner feeling, and to support absorption of other nutrients. In addition to supporting digestion, fiber acts as a natural appetite control. Chia seeds, for example, contain soluble fiber that swells into a gel, triggering the feeling of fullness and satiety.
Healthy plant oils, especially from the omega-3 fatty acid, ALA, are known to promote cardiovascular function, including reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. Of all seeds and nuts, sesame seeds have the highest concentrations of phytosterols, compounds that have been shown to help lower cholesterol.
Magnesium is a “chill pill” mineral found in just about all seeds and has a calming effect on the mind and muscles. According to research, low levels of magnesium have been linked to fatigue and feelings of anxiety.
Feeling blue? Pop some chia or pumpkin seeds into your mouth. They’re high in mood-boosting tryptophan, an amino acid involved in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and sleep.
For good bones as you age, load-up on sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, which contain bone-building minerals including calcium, magnesium, manganese and zinc. In fact, just ¼ cup of pumpkin seeds provides over 50% of your daily requirement of manganese and almost half of your daily requirement of magnesium. And chia seeds are exceptionally high in calcium.
Seeds contain antioxidants that fight free radicals and inflammation, both of which can accelerate the aging process and affect your heart, joints and skin. Chia seeds contain quercetin, a powerful plant-based compound that helps neutralize inflammation, free radicals and toxins.
Whether you prefer to eat seeds by the handful, sprinkle them on soups, salads and sauces, or mix seed butters into your smoothies, adding seeds to your regular diet makes it super quick and easy to pack more good stuff into your day.