All grains and nuts are seeds but there are several edible seeds that are especially potent and we call them Super Seeds. These super seeds have higher levels of vitamins and minerals compared to most foods, thus they earn the name “nutrient dense.” Chia, flax, sunflower, poppy, sesame, pumpkin, hemp seeds and quinoa fall into this “super seed” category and although they may be small, they certainly are mighty! We’ve selected a few of our favorite seeds to share some important information as to why you should consider adding them to your diet.
Chia seeds are the edible seeds of a flowering plant in the mint family native to central and southern Mexico. Cultivation of these tiny seeds goes back as far as 3500 BC, they were a major crop in ancient times for Mexico and Guatemala and these seeds were used as an offering to the Gods of the ancient Aztecs.
- All 9 essential amino acids not made by our bodies are found in Chia seeds making them a complete protein.
- Out of any edible plant, they contain the highest density of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have been found to benefit cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol, decreasing inflammation, and even helping regulate blood pressure.
- Chia seeds are high in fiber, help regulate bowel movements, and may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
High in fiber and mucilage (a gelatinous gum), flaxseed has been utilized throughout history as an aide to digestion. In order to best absorb all the beneficial nutrients of flaxseed it’s actually recommended to grind the whole seeds with a tool like a coffee grinder. It’s difficult for our bodies to fully break down flaxseed when eaten as the whole, raw seed and much of the time when they are consumed this way our bodies aren’t able to process the beneficial bioactive components and fatty acids.
- Flaxseeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and said to benefit our heart health, our bowels and even arthritis.
- Flaxseed is rich in lignans, which are plant compounds that have been studied for their potent cancer fighting properties. Research shows that this seed boasts 75–800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
- Flaxseed is rich in protein and fiber. In fact flaxseed contains two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, which get fermented by the bacteria in your intestines to support gut health.
Pumpkin seeds are the edible seed of a pumpkin or certain other varieties of squash. The seeds are typically flat and asymmetrically oval, and have a white outer husk. The light green color pumpkin seeds we often see come after the husk is removed. Because pumpkin seeds are high in calories, it is recommended to limit your portions to a serving size of about one-quarter cup.
Tip: Next time you’re carving out your jack-o-lantern for Halloween you shouldn’t throw away the pumpkin guts!
- Pumpkin seeds have a high magnesium content which helps lower and regulate blood pressure. Thanks to this effect, diets high in magnesium are often associated with a lower risk of stroke and death from heart disease.
- Pumpkin seeds are rich in vitamins and minerals like manganese and vitamin K, both of which are important in helping wounds heal. They also contain zinc, a mineral that helps the immune system fight bacteria and viruses.
- If you have trouble sleeping, try snacking on pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds are a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sleep.
It is believed that sunflower seeds gained popularity in Russia in the 16th century due to its ability to keep its liquid form in low temperatures after being processed into an oil. There are actually two main types of sunflower crops, one type is grown for the seeds you eat, while the other is grown for the oil. From the crops we eat, seeds are harvested from the plant’s large flower heads and a single sunflower head may contain up to 2,000 seeds.
- Adding sunflower seeds to your diet has been found to lower blood pressure due to a compound in sunflower seeds that blocks an enzyme that causes blood vessels to constrict. As a result, it may help your blood vessels relax.
- Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E, flavonoids, and other plant compounds that can reduce inflammation so for those with short-term or chronic inflammation, sunflower seeds can offer anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Sunflower seeds are especially high in vitamin E and selenium which function as antioxidants to protect your body’s cells against free radical damage, which plays a role in several chronic diseases.
You can find a variety of seeds in our Source Staples section, either in store or online. Visit us in store Monday through Friday, 10:30am - 6pm and online shopping is available. Online orders are typically available for pickup within 1-2 hours.