What are 10 edible seeds?

Seeds are an important part of the human diet and provide a great source of nutrients. There are many different edible seeds that can be incorporated into meals or eaten on their own. Here are 10 of the most popular and nutritious edible seeds.

1. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are one of the most nutritious seeds you can eat. They are rich in fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. Just one ounce of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, and 137 calories. Chia seeds are also packed with antioxidants and minerals like calcium, manganese, and phosphorus.

The high fiber content of chia seeds can help regulate bowel movements, lower cholesterol levels, and maintain healthy blood sugar levels. The omega-3s in chia seeds have anti-inflammatory properties and can improve heart health. Chia seeds are very versatile – you can sprinkle them on yogurt, cereals, salads or mix them into smoothies and baked goods.

2. Flax Seeds

Like chia seeds, flax seeds are highly nutritious and one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. One tablespoon of flax seeds contains 3 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and over 100% of the recommended daily intake for omega-3s. Flax seeds promote heart health, reduce inflammation, and can even lower cancer risk.

The fiber and healthy fats in flax seeds can help regulate blood sugar levels and appetite. Flax seeds can be eaten raw, roasted, or ground into flaxseed meal. Try adding flaxseed meal into smoothies, oatmeal or yogurt. Roasted flax seeds make a nice crunchy topping for salads or vegetables.

3. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a popular snack food that packs a big nutritional punch. One ounce of pumpkin seeds has 7 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, healthy fats, and minerals like magnesium, zinc and iron. The lignans in pumpkin seeds may help balance hormones and prevent certain cancers.

Pumpkin seeds are delicious roasted with just a bit of olive oil and salt. Add them to trail mixes, granola, salads or eat them by the handful for a savory snack. Pumpkin seed butter is great alternative to peanut or almond butter.

4. Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are full of healthy fats, protein, fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Just a quarter cup of sunflower seeds has over 10% of the recommended daily intake for magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and vitamin E. The copper in sunflower seeds helps maintain strong bones while the vitamin E is excellent for your skin.

Sunflower seeds have a very mild, nutty flavor, making them a tasty addition to breads, muffins and salads. Look for shelled unsalted sunflower seeds which won’t have unhealthy additives. Avoid pre-roasted sunflower seeds which are often cooked in unhealthy oils.

5. Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are amongst the most nutritionally dense seeds you can eat. Three tablespoons contains 10 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and is rich in iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium. Hemp seeds are one of the few plant-based sources of complete protein, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids your body needs.

The omega fatty acids in hemp seeds promote brain health and heart health. Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavor that makes a great additive to smoothies, oatmeal or yogurt. Unlike flaxseeds, hemp seeds don’t need to be ground to access their nutrients.

6. Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are an ancient seed long used for its nutritional benefits. Just one ounce of sesame seeds has 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. Sesame seeds are an excellent source of copper, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc. The lignans in sesame seeds can help balance cholesterol levels.

Sesame seeds are the main ingredient in tahini and are delicious on their own when roasted. Try adding them to stir fries, noodles or roasted vegetables. Unhulled sesame seeds contain more nutrients than hulled seeds.

7. Poppy Seeds

Tiny poppy seeds pack a potent nutrient punch and add great flavor and texture to baked goods. One tablespoon of poppy seeds has 4 grams of fiber, calcium, iron, and folate. The healthy polyunsaturated fats in poppy seeds help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and decrease heart disease risk.

Poppy seeds are widely used in Indian, Polish and German cuisine. Their sweet, nutty flavor is perfect for cakes, muffins, bread and bagels. Avoid pre-washed poppy seeds which have had their outer coating removed, decreasing nutrients.

8. Quinoa

Quinoa is often referred to as a “super grain” due to its impressive nutrient profile. It is high in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and lysine. Just one cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Quinoa contains more nutrients than true grains and is gluten-free.

The protein in quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete source of protein. Quinoa can be used as a substitute for rice in any dish. It has a nutty flavor and fluffy texture when cooked. Rinse quinoa thoroughly before cooking to remove its bitter coating.

9. Amaranth

Like quinoa, amaranth is considered a “pseudo-grain” but is actually a seed. It was a staple food of the Aztecs and has made a comeback due to its stellar nutritional profile. One cup of cooked amaranth has 9 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and over 100% of the daily recommended intake for manganese, magnesium and phosphorus.

Amaranth has a sweet, peppery flavor and can be cooked just like other grains. It makes a great addition to breakfast cereals, baked goods and muffins. Amaranth has been shown to lower cholesterol, enhance immune function and reduce inflammation.

10. Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranate seeds, also called arils, add a sweet pop of flavor and nutrients. One cup of pomegranate seeds contains 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, vitamin K, folate, and potassium. Pomegranates contain potent antioxidants called punicalagins that lower inflammation and boost immunity.

Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on salads, yogurts, cereals and desserts. Blend them into smoothies or press into juice. Look for seeds sold in refrigerated packaging to ensure freshness. Avoid dried seeds which have less nutrients.

Nutritional Profile of Popular Edible Seeds

Seed Protein Fiber Omega-3s Iron Magnesium
Chia 4g 11g 4915mg 7% DV 30% DV
Flax 3g 2g 6388mg 8% DV 12% DV
Pumpkin 7g 2g 154mg 17% DV 37% DV
Sunflower 5g 3g 13mg 20% DV 28% DV
Hemp 10g 2g 1300mg 25% DV 45% DV
Sesame 5g 4g 541mg 20% DV 25% DV
Quinoa 8g 5g 92mg 15% DV 16% DV
Amaranth 9g 5g 42mg 29% DV 65% DV

Health Benefits of Edible Seeds

There are many reasons to include more edible seeds in your diet. Here are some of the top health benefits these nutritious seeds provide:

  • Rich in protein – All seeds contain high quality plant-based protein needed for building muscle, bone and cells.
  • High in fiber – The fiber in seeds helps reduce cholesterol, regulate blood sugar levels, and promote digestive health.
  • Rich in omega-3s – Seeds like chia, flax and hemp are among the richest plant-based sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Packed with nutrients – Seeds provide a wide array of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that boost energy, immunity and overall health.
  • Heart healthy fats – The polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in seeds support heart health by lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Help control appetite – The protein, fiber and healthy fats in seeds help you feel fuller longer to prevent overeating and weight gain.
  • Lower cancer risk – The antioxidants like lignans in seeds may help prevent certain hormonal cancers like breast, prostate and ovarian cancer.
  • Reduce inflammation – Seeds are rich in antioxidants that can help reduce systemic inflammation to lower the risk of chronic diseases.

How to Eat More Edible Seeds

Consuming a variety of edible seeds daily is a healthy habit worth cultivating. Here are some simple ways to eat more seeds:

  • Make chia pudding by mixing chia seeds with coconut or almond milk.
  • Sprinkle pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds into salads, stir fries and curries.
  • Blend hemp, flax or chia seeds into smoothies for a nutrition and texture boost.
  • Mix popped amaranth into granola bars, muffins and breads.
  • Substitute quinoa or amaranth for rice or couscous in recipes.
  • Toss roasted seeds into trail mixes or snack on plain.
  • Use ground flax or chia seeds to replace eggs in vegan baking.
  • Top oatmeal, yogurt or cereals with assorted raw seeds for crunch.
  • Stir tahini into hummus, salad dressings, marinades and sauces.

Tips for Buying and Storing Seeds

Follow these recommendations for best quality and nutrition:

  • Buy raw – Purchase uncooked seeds instead of pre-roasted varieties to avoid unhealthy oils or seasonings.
  • Go unhulled – Choose seeds like flax, sesame and quinoa with hulls intact to maximize fiber and nutrient density.
  • Store properly – Keep seeds in air-tight containers in a cool, dark place to prevent rancidity.
  • Refrigerate oils – Refrigerate seeds high in omega-3s like flaxseed and hempseed to prevent oil from turning rancid.
  • Check expiration dates – For the freshest seeds, buy from stores with high product turnover and adhere to expiration dates.
  • Buy small amounts – Purchase seeds in small quantities and replace them often for the best flavor and nutrition.

Potential Pitfalls of Eating Seeds

Seeds are extremely healthy, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Allergic reactions – Some people may be allergic to seeds like sesame and poppy seeds.
  • Phytic acid content – Phytic acid in seeds can block mineral absorption. Soaking, sprouting and fermenting seeds helps reduce phytic acid.
  • Omega-6 content – Some seeds are high in omega-6 fatty acids which can be inflammatory if consumed in excess without omega-3s.
  • Bloating and gas – Due the high fiber and oil content of some seeds, they may produce intestinal gas and bloating.
  • Contaminants – Buy organic seeds when possible to avoid pesticide exposure.

The Bottom Line

Edible seeds are nutritional powerhouses packed with protein, healthy fats, fiber and micronutrients. Incorporating a variety of seeds like chia, hemp, flax, quinoa and pumpkin into your diet can provide multiple benefits. Seeds can improve your heart health, reduce inflammation, aid digestion, build muscle and lower your risk for certain cancers and chronic diseases. Aim to eat a few tablespoons of assorted seeds daily as a simple way to boost your overall nutrient intake.

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