In the modern era, good health is a challenge by itself. Growing awareness about human wellness and the role of nutrition fuelled minds to go back to traditional foods. Recently, oilseeds are gaining increasing attention for their positive impact on disease prevention and health promotion. Despite being small in size, they are termed as superfoods for the role they play, which is beyond essential nutrition. Attention has now been shifted from relief to prevention and cure. Now let’s look at some of the seeds which are commonly consumed and how they are beneficial to us, as told by Greata Sherene Robinson, Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chennai
CHIA SEEDS - Safe serving size – 1.5 tablespoon. (20g)
These tiny black seeds are packed with benefits. And in recent time, the consumption of chia seeds has increased rapidly cause of the numerous health benefits.
- Chia seeds contain protein and essential amino acids (EAA) and appear as a promising source for bioactive peptides.
- Omega-3 fatty acids enriched chia seeds can be associated with a reduced risk of Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), HTN, Type II DM, Arthritis and cancer.
- An excellent source of dietary fibre, which also includes insoluble fibre – which has the water holding capacity. This induces a sense of fullness, thereby reducing appetite, increases satiety and helps in weight loss.
- The antioxidant-rich seed contains phenolic acids and flavonoids, which prevents us from neurological disease, inflammation, immunodeficiency, ischemic heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and so on.
- Packed with B vitamins and several minerals, they prevent a whole lot of diseases and improves the overall health and wellbeing.
FLAX SEEDS - Safe serving size – 1 tsp. (5g)
Flax seeds are commonly available in all kinds of today’s food ranging from crackers to smoothies. They have innumerable health benefits which are listed below.
- The dietary fibre present in it helps in controlling appetite, blood glucose, promotes laxation and decreases blood lipids, thereby preventing lifestyle diseases.
- They contain phytoestrogens which stabilize the hormonal level that affect the premenstrual symptoms, menopause and decreases hot flashes in women.
- Alpha linoleic acid (ALA) plays a vital role as an anti-inflammatory, thereby reduces the production factor that promotes inflammation.
- The Vitamin E helps in promoting sodium excretion in urine, reduces Cholesterol, and lowers BP, Heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
- Lignans help in cancer prevention, and research states that it reduces the risk of breast, prostate, colon and thyroid cancer.
PUMPKIN SEEDS - Safe serving size – ½ cup. (100 g)
This green seed is a powerhouse of nutrients. This is commonly consumed as a snack in many places all around the world.
- As always, these seeds are also a good source of proteins, unsaturated fat and contains omega three fatty acids which improve endothelial function, thereby improving the overall health.
- The B vitamins and Vitamin E present it in acts as anti-ageing and strengthens the immune system.
- Your depressed mood can be enlightened with a spoon of pumpkin seeds as they contain L-Tryptophan, which improves mood, prevents insomnia, and it converts into serotonin in the body which ensures you with sound sleep.
- They are an excellent source of magnesium and zinc, which helps in greater bone density, releases a parathyroid hormone (PTH) and zinc on general boosts hair growth and also plays a vital role in pregnancy.
- The phytoestrogens prevent hyperlipidemia and osteoporosis for menopausal women. And is also useful in treating joint pain.
SUNFLOWER SEEDS - Safe serving size – 2 tablespoon. (30 g)
These are found inside the centre of the bright yellow coloured sunflowers. And are a bundle of nutrients with benefits.
- Excellent source of vitamins and minerals like zinc and selenium, which fights against infection and inflammation, the antioxidant property on it reduces the risk of prostate cancer.
- The vitamin B1 present in it can keep us active by providing ample energy to the body.
- The essential fatty acids and phytosterols present in these regulates cholesterol levels and decrease the chance of coronary artery disease.
- Vitamin E is the key nutrient along with essential fatty acids, helps in the formation of collagen & elastin, which gives glowing skin. To all the preggy moms out there, you must try these.
- Magnesium present in it helps in the maintenance of nerve, the muscle tone of the body. It also prevents muscle cramps, hypertension and migraine.
HEMP SEEDS - Safe serving size – 1 tablespoon. (15 g)
This small brown seed packs a good source of amino acids, protein, fibre and essential fatty acids. It is an Asian crop, used for more than 10,000 years.
- All the nine essential amino acids that our body doesn’t contain are present in this seed. They have 20 amino acids and is being a storehouse of proteins.
- It’s a source of critical vitamins and minerals and prevents the body from so many diseases.
- The arginine present in it helps in ammonia detoxification, fetal growth, insulin resistance – thus benefitting heart health.
- The PUFA present in this reduces cancer, CVD, Rheumatoid Arthritis, HTN, inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
- Seeds being the rich source of the fibre reduces appetite, stabilizes blood sugar and promotes gut health.
- Now, as we know the benefits let’s look at the ways we can add them to our food and make it nutritious:
The seeds can get rancid soon so always store them in a cool, dry place. Do not buy packaged seeds which will be loaded with extra added salt. Check before you buy the seed product. Moderation is the key. Do not overindulge on them as they might cause issues with the health. Keep them on the light key to get the full benefits. Happy seed-eating.
With inputs from Greata Sherene Robinson, Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chennai
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