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Seeds: The Unsung Super Food

Seeds contain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients necessary to create new life. Researchers have found that certain seeds are super foods, capable not only of packing a nutritional punch, but also lowering blood pressure, easing arthritis, and keeping cholesterol in check.

The National Institutes of Health recommend 4 to 5, half-ounce servings of seeds each week as part of a nutritional, heart-healthy diet. Seeds come in lots of tasty varieties. Use your favorites as a seasoning on salads, bagels and toast, or eat a handful for a quick, filling snack.

Here are five super seeds you should consider making part of your diet:

  • Chia seeds: These seeds aren’t just for sprouting a new Chia Pet. One ounce of chia seeds contains 5 grams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 is key to proper brain function and childhood growth and development, but our bodies can’t produce it. We have to get it from the foods we eat.

    Incorporating chia seeds in your diet can help stave off Omega-3 deficiency problems such as fatigue, poor memory, heart problems, and depression.

  • Flaxseeds: This super food is available whole, ground, or as an oil. Flaxseeds are also rich in ALA. One tablespoon has 1.6 grams of the Omega-3 fatty acid. Because flaxseeds are rich in ALA, they have some of the same anti-inflammatory and heart-protection benefits as chia seeds. Additionally, researchers have found that flaxseeds have some special benefits for women, including easing breast pain and lumpiness and menopausal hot flashes.

    It’s easier for our bodies to absorb flaxseed nutrients when the seeds are ground. So steer clear of whole seeds if you want the greatest ALA benefits.

  • Pumpkin seeds: No longer the disrespected refuse of Halloween parties, pumpkin seeds are now recognized by nutritionists as filled with minerals essential to maintaining good health. A mere quarter cup provides more than 40 percent of the recommended daily allowance of manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus. Each is important in maintaining bone and blood health. Additionally, pumpkin seeds contain high levels of phytosterols, which have been shown to reduce cholesterol in the blood.

  • Sesame seeds: If you’re concerned about getting enough bone-protecting calcium but you’re not a dairy fan, then sesame seeds might be for you. A half cup of these super seeds provides more calcium than a half cup of whole milk — and none of the saturated fat. A quarter cup of is packed with 74 percent of the recommended daily allowance of copper, a mineral known for relieving the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Sunflower seeds: Perhaps the most popular seed food, a quarter cup of these kernels contain more than 90 percent of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin E. Vitamin E has long been praised as an antioxidant, protecting cells from dangerous free radicals suspected of causing cancer and heart disease. Also, when it comes to having the highest amount of cholesterol-lowering phytosterols, sunflower seeds beat all the other edible seeds.

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