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Small seeds, huge benefits.

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

Small size, huge benefits.


Only recently seeds have become a very popular addition to many morning fruit bowls, smoothies or salads.

Seeds are extremely nutritious as contain all the starting materials necessary to develop into complex plants. With just a teaspoon you can give yourself a nutritional boost of protein and fibre. They also contain healthy monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and many important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. When consumed as part of a healthy diet, seeds can help reduce blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.



Chia seeds

These miracle seeds are probably most widely known for their high content of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and high-quality protein. Since they absorb water, they thicken into a form of gel once added into a liquid. 28g of chia seeds, which are one ounce, contains 11g of fibre, that becomes soluble in our guts and helps reduce the risk of diabetes while increasing the sense of satiety. As chia seeds contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to be good for our heart, chia can help us keeping our cardiovascular system healthy. Interestingly, a number of studies have shown that eating chia seeds can increase ALA in the blood. ALA is an important omega-3 fatty acid that can help reduce inflammation

Quinoa

This “super food” is a great substitute for rice or pasta. What is interesting is that quinoa is officially a seed of a leafy plant related to spinach and part of a group of pseudo-cereals, making it neither a cereal nor a grain, and botanically speaking making it more closely related to spinach and beets and chard than to cereals or grains. Quinoa, unlike most plant-based foods contains complete proteins containing all of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. This makes quinoa a particularly beneficial food for those who do not eat animal products. Similarly to Chia seeds, quinoa is gluten free and therefore can be consumed by people suffering from celiac disease. It also contains quercitin, which is a flavonoid with that has been associated with antidepressant and anti- inflammatory effects.

Flax seeds

Adding flax seeds to our diet may help reduce our risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Research suggests that omega-3s help the cardiovascular system through several different mechanisms, including anti-inflammatory action and normalizing the heartbeat. When combined with a proper weight loss diet, flax seeds help bring down inflammatory processes in the body by 25–46%. Recent research also suggests significant blood pressure-lowering effects of flaxseed. Eating flaxseed daily may also help our cholesterol levels. Although research is still in progress, these benefits are believed to be due to flaxseeds’ content of soluble as well as insoluble fibre, that help to absorb the cholesterol and fat from our food. Moreover, flax seeds are among the richest food sources of lignans in the human diet, containing up to 800 times more lignans than some of the other dietary sources. Lignans, among many other things, are high in antioxidants, regulate hormone levels, and boost the immune system.


One study of menopausal women, published in 2007, reported that 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed mixed into cereal, juice, or yogurt twice a day cut their hot flashes in half. The intensity of their hot flashes also dropped by 57%. The women noticed a difference after taking the daily flaxseed for just one week and achieved the maximum benefit within two weeks.


Both the soluble and insoluble fibre contents of flax seeds improve the functioning of the digestive system, by serves as food for friendly bacteria found in the gut, helping to eliminate toxins from the body, helping suppress hunger and sugar cravings. This tiny seeds if ground and mixed with water, can also serve as a natural laxative.


However, the omega-3 fats are contained within the fibrous outer shell of the seed, which humans can’t digest easily. Therefore, if you want to increase your omega-3 levels, it’s best to eat flaxseeds that have been ground.




Note of Caution. Many nutrition experts are concerned that consuming flax seeds may have negative effects on pregnancy. It’s not recommended to include flax seeds in the diets of pregnant women until these concerns are confirmed or dismissed in human studies.



Hemp seeds are one of the few plants that are complete protein sources. Studies have also shown that the protein quality of hemp seeds is better than most other plant protein sources. The anti-inflammatory action of the omega-3 fatty acids may also help improve symptoms of eczema. One study found that people with eczema experienced less skin dryness and itchiness after taking hemp seed oil supplements for 20 weeks. They also used skin medication less, on average



Sources


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Fukumitsu S1, Aida K, Shimizu H, Toyoda K. (2010) Flaxseed lignan lowers blood cholesterol and decreases liver disease risk factors in moderately hypercholesterolemic men. Nutr Res. Jul; 30(7): 4416.


Gornik, H. L., & Creager, M. A. (2004). Arginine and endothelial and vascular health. The Journal of nutrition, 134(10), 2880S-2887S.


Hou, Y., Aboukhatwa, M. A., Lei, D. L., Manaye, K., Khan, I., & Luo, Y. (2010). Anti-depressant natural flavonols modulate BDNF and beta amyloid in neurons and hippocampus of double TgAD mice. Neuropharmacology, 58(6), 911-920.


An open-label study on the effect of flax seed powder (Linum usitatissimum) supplementation in the management of diabetes mellitus. J Diet SupplSep;8(3): 257-65.


Mohd Ali, N., Yeap, S. K., Ho, W. Y., Beh, B. K., Tan, S. W., & Tan, S. G. (2012). The promising future of chia, Salvia hispanica L. BioMed Research International, 2012.


Ruxton, C. H. S., Reed, S. C., Simpson, M. J. A., & Millington, K. J. (2004). The health benefits of omega‐3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: a review of the evidence. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 17(5), 449-459.

Touré, A., & Xueming, X. (2010). Flaxseed lignans: source, biosynthesis, metabolism, antioxidant activity, bio‐active components, and health benefits. Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety, 9(3), and 261-269.


Almario RU1, Karakas SE (2013) Lignan content of the flaxseed influences its biological effects in healthy men and women. J Am Coll Nutr.32 (3): 194-9.

Kristensen M1, Jensen MG, Aarestrup J, Petersen KE, Søndergaard L, Mikkelsen MS, Astrup A. (2012) Flaxseed dietary fibers lower cholesterol and increase fecal fat excretion, but magnitude of effect depends on food type. Nutr Metab (Lond). Feb 3; 9:8.


Wanders AJ1, van den Borne JJ, de Graaf C, Hulshof T, Jonathan MC, Kristensen M, Mars M, Schols HA, Feskens EJ. (2011) Effects of dietary fibre on subjective appetite, energy intake and body weight: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Obes Rev. Sep; 12(9): 724-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00895.x. Epub 2011 Jun 16.


Callaway J, Schwab U, Harvima I, Halonen P, Mykkänen O, Hyvönen P, Järvinen T. Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis. J Dermatolog Treat. 2005 Apr;16(2):87-94. doi: 10.1080/09546630510035832. PMID: 16019622.




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