As more and more people become aware of the health problems caused by the modern American diet and its dependence upon processed or fast foods, whole foods diets are becoming more popular. These diets focus in on changing to foods which are prepared from their natural states, like fresh vegetables or whole grains.
One good change to make if striving for a whole foods diet is to include more seeds. The typical American diet does not feature seeds heavily, so many people do not always think of them except in the form of a condiment (like sesame seeds for stir-fries). However, they are well worth including in a variety of dishes for all the health benefits they can bring. Seven of the healthiest seeds for this are listed below.
Chia seeds can be added easily to a variety of dishes like oatmeal, smoothies or even soups and casseroles because they have very little flavor. What they do have, however, is a ton of protein, iron, fiber and potassium to increase energy levels and help with weight loss. (1)
Ground flax seeds are great when added to baked goods or oatmeal and are also incredibly healthy. Their Omega 3 fatty acids help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and they have also been shown to help balance female hormones, making them great for women’s health. (2)
Hemp seeds are becoming increasingly popular with those who are conscious of their health. This is because, in addition to Omega-3 fatty acids, vegetarian protein and fiber, they are also rich in Vitamin E. This makes for healthy skin, hair and nails and is a powerful antioxidant to boot! (3)
Pumpkin seeds are one of the healthiest snacks that someone can possibly indulge in. The thing that has most people so excited is that they are a great source of magnesium, a nutrient that has gotten a lot of press coverage in recent times for its support of muscular, bone and heart health. (4)
Sesame seeds are a staple of Asian cuisine and are so small, they can be added discretely to almost any dish. One thing which makes them so great is that they are a rich source of calcium and this makes them an attractive option for vegans who cannot get their calcium from traditional dairy sources. (5)
These are another super-healthy snack. Like many seeds, they contain high amounts of protein, healthy fat and fiber. However, they are also rich in an amino acid called phenylalaline, which has been shown to promote brain health and treat issues like mild depression. (6)
Many people get turned off from papaya seeds because of their strong pepper taste. However, they can be ground and used as a pepper substitute and the extra effort is well worth it: they are rich in oleic acid and have been shown to protect against cancer development. (7)
Using more of seeds like these is another quick and easy step towards embracing a whole foods diet and turning away from the processed foods which are responsible for so many health problems throughout this country.