When I think fall, I think pumpkin—whether it is in the form of pie, spiced lattes or, my favorite, seeds.
As I was baking some pumpkin seeds this past weekend, I looked around my kitchen and realized I hadn’t added seeds into my diet in a long time. I knew that they were important and nutritious, but I couldn’t remember why.
I did some research and found four types of seeds that are incredibly easy to add into healthy meals and have many health benefits.
You might remember the once-famous Chia Pet. These plants were responsible for growing the chia seed. Chia seeds are tiny, and they grow primarily in Mexico. One tablespoon of chia seeds contains only 70 calories, while providing 2 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber, approximately 20 percent of our daily fiber value, according to mychiaseeds.com. They’re easy to add to recipes as well. They have a very mild, nutty flavor. They frequently end up in smoothies or on top of oatmeal and are an easy-to-add ingredient to boost a recipe.
There’s an ongoing debate in the health community about the superiority of flaxseed over chia seeds. Personally, I think they are both great additions to just about anything. Whole flaxseed is more difficult for our bodies to digest than ground-up flaxseed. Because of this, flaxseed is typically bought and sold pre-ground. This makes it even easier to add to recipes. There are many benefits to flaxseed, but it is generally known and celebrated for its high content of “good” fats, according to WebMD. A tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s. It can be used in many recipes to replace flour and is often used in smoothies.
Pumpkin seeds are one of my favorite parts of fall. Although eating pumpkin seeds seems for many to be just an act of the season, there are a lot of great benefits to carving your pumpkin and saving the seeds. Pumpkin seeds contain magnesium, which is important for maintaining and improving energy levels. These seeds also have a high zinc content, an element that enhances healing and may reduce risks of the common cold, according to livestrong.com. In addition to their health benefits, pumpkin seeds taste great. They are higher in calories than other seeds, but are more satisfying to eat by themselves. Oven-roasted pumpkin seeds are delicious and, to add flavor, can be topped with salt, chili powder, cinnamon or any kind of herb.
Sesame seeds are definitely more likely to be found at a smaller market or in a salad at a local restaurant than the others. These seeds have been a staple of many diets for decades, and their texture, mild taste and health benefits all show why. In just one tablespoon, sesame seeds contain only about 50 calories. They are known for their high calcium content, as well as magnesium and iron, are nutrients found in many animal products, according to vegparadise.com. This makes sesame seeds a great alternative for vegetarians. They are typically used in Asian and Mediterranean cuisine. I like adding them to dressings and salads.
Seeds are small, but they’re mighty. They pack a lot of nutrients in an easy and manageable size and are easily added to lots of recipes.