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Seeds – Mini Superheroes

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Over the last five years much has been written about the benefits nuts in our diet, In my opinion the humble seed has been neglected, relegated to ‘Hippy status’ and seen as a poor relative to the much-revered nuts.  I think they are an excellent alternative to nuts, less rich, making them easier to digest.  The seed is an embryonic plant itself and the origin of nutrition, which is why I believe there, is actually so much to shout about.  Seeds are the very source and origins of all plants, they are the source of most cooking oils, many drinks and spices as well as some important food additives.

Nutrient dense
Seeds are a nutritional powerhouse, jam-packed with dietary fibre, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. There are many different types of seeds to choose from, and easy to incorporate into a variety of dishes, adding a boost of flavour, nutrition, and texture.

The best way to eat seeds

Seeds should only be eaten raw, once they are exposed to heat, they produce toxic substances and the vitamin, mineral and essential oil are diminished.  By roasting a seed, its classification moves from a living food to a dead food.

Here is your guide to the top eight super seeds.

CHIA SEEDS

Serving Size = 1 Tsp

How to use: add it to yoghurt, cereal, porridge, desserts, cream, salads, muffins, crumbles.

Chia seeds form into a gel-like substance after they’ve been soaked. Soaking them helps break them down – which is most important so you can reap the full nutritional benefits, they also helps to thicken up the consistency of food, particularly smoothies which is how I like to consume them.

The facts:

  • Chai seeds contain two and a half times more protein than kidney beans
  • Three times the antioxidant strength of blueberries
  • Three times more iron than spinach
  • Six times more calcium than milk
  • Seven times more vitamin C than oranges
  • Eight times more omega-3 than salmon
  • Ten times more fibre than rice
  • 15 times more magnesium than broccoli

The seeds are loaded with vitamins and minerals, are an excellent source of fibre, protein and antioxidants, and are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Consumption of chia seeds could help reduce joint pain, aid in weight loss, deliver an energy boost and protect against serious ailments such as diabetes and heart disease.

The seeds are gluten-free, which also makes them appealing to people with celiac disease or an aversion to gluten.

While growing research has linked consumption of EPA and DHA to heart health, improved brain function and possible other health benefits such as improvement in depression or rheumatoid arthritis, studies are now suggesting that ALA may bring about redistribution associated with heart and liver protection.

HEMP SEEDS

Serving Size = 1 Tbsp

How to use: Add them to yoghurts, salads, smoothies and soups (right at the end to garnish)

Hemp seeds are the most nutritious of all the seeds known to man.  They have the most concentrated balance of proteins, essential fats, vitamins and enzymes combined with a relative absence of sugar, starches and saturated fats.  Eating hemp seeds in any form could aid, if not heal, people suffering from immune deficiency diseases.  Hemp was traditionally used in the treatment of tuberculosis.

The Facts:

  • Hemp Seeds are a complete protein, and a superior vegetarian source of protein.
    They are the richest known source of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids.
  • Hemp seeds have the highest concentrated balance of proteins, essential fats, vitamins and enzymes combined with a relative absence of sugar, starches and saturated fats. Hemp seeds has  more essential fatty acid than linseeds or any other nut or seed oil.
  • They contain all 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) our bodies cannot produce.
    Hemp seed provide a perfect a perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 Linoleic Acid and Omega-3 Linolenic Acid — for cardiovascular health and general strengthening of the immune system.
    Raw hemp seeds help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, reduces inflammation and will help to improve circulation as well as natural blood sugar control.
  • Hemp seeds are a high-protein food source, providing 73% of the Daily Value in a 100 g serving, its amino acid content is comparable to other sources such as meat, milk, eggs and soy.

If you’re a calorie counter, then be aware, whilst nutritionally dense, they are calorific, about 45 percent fat, so two tablespoons contains around 9g fat and 100 calories. If you start adding hemp seeds to your salads, smoothies, and morning Greek yogurt and berries, the unsuspecting calories can add up.

POMEGRANATE SEEDS

Serving Size = 125g

How to use: Add them to yogurts, salads, desserts and smoothies.  Pomegranate juice is very good.

The Facts:

  • Pomegranates are a rich source of antioxidants. Therefore, it helps to protect your body’s cells from free radicals, which cause premature aging.
  • In simple words, pomegranate juice pumps up the level of oxygen in your blood and reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease.
  • In fact, pomegranate juice, which contains health-boosting tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid, has higher antioxidant activity than green tea and red wine. The pomegranate, with its edible seeds, is high in vitamin C and potassium, low in calories (80 per serving, which is just under one-third of a medium fruit), and a good source of fibre.
  • The health benefits of a pomegranate run bone deep; it can reduce the damage on the cartilage for those suffering with arthritis. This fruit has the ability to lessen the inflammation and fights the enzymes that destroy the cartilage.

LINSEED (Also known as flaxseed)

Serving Size = 2 tsp (ground)

How to use: Ground linseed provides more nutritional benefits than does the whole seed. Grind the seeds at home using a coffee grinder or blender, and add them to cereals, baked goods and smoothies and milkshakes. Linseed is my favourite seed for that extra kick fibre boost.  Linseeds have been cultivated for centuries and has been celebrated for its usefulness all over the world.

The Facts

  • Dietary fibre from Linseed suppresses rises in blood levels of lipids after a meal, as well as promoting healthy bowel function. (University of Copenhagen researchers)
  • Rich content of Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), dietary fibre, and lignans , the essential fatty acid ALA is a powerful anti-inflammatory.
  • One tablespoon of whole Linseed contains as much fibre as 125g of cooked oat bran.

PUMPKIN SEEDS

Serving Size = 125g

How to use: add them to your salads, soups and snack box.

The Facts:

  •  Another high protein seed 100 grams of seeds on a daily basis provide 54 percent of the daily requirement in terms of protein.
  • Pumpkin seeds are a good source for vitamin B like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and folates.  For those who are down in the dumps, pumpkin seeds can help fight through depression. The chemical component L-tryptophan is the secret ingredient to boost your mood.
  • They are the only seed that is alkaline-forming and so good for those who suffer from over acidity and reflux.

SESAME SEEDS

Serving Size = 60g

How to use:  Sesame seeds are excellent in dressings, marinades and toppings.  They add immense flavour oil.  Sprinkle over Asian dishes.

The Facts

  • Sesame seeds may be the oldest condiment known to man. They are highly valued for their oil, which is exceptionally resistant to rancidity.
  • They are high in manganese and copper, good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fibre.
  • In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibres called lignans (like linseeds), and have been to lower cholesterol in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.

SUNFLOWER SEEDS

Serving Size = 60g

How to use: Sunflower seeds are so versatile, you can snack on them, mix them up as part of a nut mix as a nutritious fix for the day, but leftovers make a delicious topping for soups, roasted vegetables, or even hot cereals. Remember to add them after you’ve heated the rest of the dish – they don’t like heat.

The Facts:

  • Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E travels throughout the body neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise damage fat-containing structures and molecules, such as cell membranes, brain cells, and cholesterol.
  • Sunflower seeds can also reduce cholesterol, enhance the immune response and decrease risk of certain cancers.
  • Sunflower seeds are a good source of magnesium. Numerous studies have demonstrated that magnesium helps reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent migraine headaches, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

CUMIN SEEDS

Serving Size = 1 Tbsp

How to use: Use in cakes, biscuits, curries, and rice.

The Facts:

  • Cumin is one of the oldest seeds known to man – used since antiquity. Cumin is useful for digestive disorders and even as an antiseptic.
  • The seeds themselves are rich in iron and help boost the power of the liver; they can also help relieve symptoms of common cold.
  • If you have a sore throat, try adding some dry ginger to cumin water, to help soothe it.

For more information on nutritional diets and cooking please contact The Cooking Academy on cook@thecookingacademy.co.uk

Sources & Cross reference of information:

anticancerinfo.co.uk
bodyecology.com
chicagotribune.com

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