This article will describe the nutritional content and health benefits of six of the healthiest seeds you can eat.
Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are a great source of fiber and omega-3 fats, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). 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 (rx,rx).
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of flaxseeds contains a wide mix of nutrients (rx):
- Calories: 152
- Fiber: 7.8 grams
- Protein: 5.2 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 2.1 grams
- Omega-3 fats: 6.5 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 1.7 grams
- Manganese: 35% of the RDI
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 31% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 28% of the RDI
Flaxseeds also contain a number of different polyphenols, especially lignans, which act as important antioxidants in the body (rx).
Lignans, as well as the fiber and omega-3 fats in flaxseeds, can all help reduce cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease (rx,rx,rx).
One large study combined the results of 28 others, finding that consuming flaxseeds reduced levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol by an average of 10 mmol/l (rx).
Flaxseeds may also help reduce blood pressure. An analysis of 11 studies found that flaxseeds could reduce blood pressure especially when eaten whole every day for more than 12 weeks (rx).
A couple of studies have shown that eating flaxseeds may reduce markers of tumor growth in women with breast cancer, and may also reduce cancer risk (rx, rx, rx).
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- 8g of fiber, 6388mg Omega-3, and 360mg of lignans per serving
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- Recommended use: Take 1 to 2 tablespoons 2x daily
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This may be due to the lignans in flaxseeds. Lignans are phytoestrogens and are similar to the female sex hormone estrogen.
What’s more, similar benefits have been shown regarding prostate cancer in men (rx).
In addition to reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer, flaxseeds may also help reduce blood sugar, which may help lower the risk of diabetes (rx). Flaxseeds are an excellent source of fiber, omega-3 fats, lignans and other nutrients. A lot of evidence has shown they may reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and even the risk of cancer.
2. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are very similar to flaxseeds because they are also good sources of fiber and omega-3 fats, along with a number of other nutrients.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of chia seeds contains (rx):
- Calories: 137
- Fiber: 10.6 grams
- Protein: 4.4 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 0.6 grams
- Omega-3 fats: 4.9 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 1.6 grams
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 15% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDI
- Manganese: 30% of the RDI
Like flaxseeds, chia seeds also contain a number of important antioxidant polyphenols.
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 (rx, rx).
Your body can convert ALA into other omega-3 fats, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are the omega-3 fats found in oily fish. However, this conversion process in the body is usually quite inefficient.
One study has shown that chia seeds may be able to increase levels of EPA in the blood (rx).
Chia seeds may also help reduce blood sugar. A couple of studies have shown that whole and ground chia seeds are equally effective for reducing blood sugar immediately after a meal (rx, rx).
Another study found that, as well as reducing blood sugar, chia seeds may reduce appetite (rx).
Chia seeds may also reduce risk factors of heart disease (rx).
- ✔️ Plant-Based Omegas — Omega fatty acids are important fats, but when following a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, it can be difficult to get them through diet alone. Chia seeds organic contain both omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- ✔️ Nutrient-Dense Superfood — These delicious superseeds are a great way to add a boost of vegan-friendly nutrients to salads, puddings and juices. Chia seeds organic whole foods contain dietary fiber, plus they’re low in saturated fat.
- ✔️ Perfect for Smoothies, Salads and More — With a neutral flavor, chia seeds can be easily mixed into drinks, savory dishes and baked goods. Stir some into your salad dressings and marinades, sprinkle over yogurt, or mix into chia pudding and overnight oats.
- ✔️ Vegan Protein — Looking for a versatile plant-based protein to incorporate in your diet? Mix some chia seeds into your morning smoothie or oatmeal for some veggie-friendly protein.
- ✔️ USDA Organic and Non-GMO — Viva Naturals chia seeds are Non-GMO Project Verified, plus USDA Organic, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Kosher, Paleo and Keto. A nutrient-dense, high-quality superfood that’s perfect for a wide range of diets and lifestyles.
A study of 20 people with type 2 diabetes found that eating 37 grams of chia seeds per day for 12 weeks reduced blood pressure and levels of several inflammatory chemicals, including C-reactive protein (CRP) (rx).
SUMMARY:Chia seeds are a good source of omega-3 fats and are effective at lowering blood sugar and reducing risk factors for heart disease.
3. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of vegetarian protein. In fact, they contain more than 30% protein, as well as many other essential nutrients.
Hemp seeds are one of the few plants that are complete protein sources, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids that your body can’t make.
Studies have also shown that the protein quality of hemp seeds is better than most other plant protein sources (rx).
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of hemp seeds contains (rx):
- Calories: 155
- Fiber: 1.1 grams
- Protein: 8.8 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 0.6 grams
- Polyunsaturated fat: 10.7 grams
- Magnesium: 45% of the RDI
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 31% of the RDI
- Zinc: 21% of the RDI
The proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in hemp seed oil is roughly 3:1, which is considered a good ratio. Hemp seeds also contain gamma-linolenic acid, an important anti-inflammatory fatty acid (rx).
For this reason, many people take hemp seed oil supplements.
Hemp seed oil may have a beneficial effect on heart health by increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood (rx, rx, erx).
The anti-inflammatory action of the omega-3 fatty acids may also help improve symptoms of eczema.
- ORGANIC HEMP SEEDS ARE A PROTEIN-PACKED SUPERFOOD: With 10g of plant protein per serving, Hemp Hearts have two times more protein than chia or flax. These super seeds also offer 12g Omegas 3 & 6 and only 1g of carbs per serving
- ESSENTIAL VITAMINS & MINERALS: Hemp is a super seed packed with plant-based protein, healthy fats and other vital nutrients. Hemp Hearts are an excellent source of Iron, Niacin, Thiamine, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, and Zinc. Zinc contributes to the normal function of the immune system. Hemp Hearts are also a good source of Vitamin B6 and Folate.
- VERSATILE & TASTY: With a light, nutty flavor that complements almost any dish, Hemp Hearts are an easy and perfect boost to any meal. Sprinkle Hemp Hearts on salad, cereal, yogurt or blend them into smoothies - shelf-stable and ready to eat, hemp seeds are a must-have addition to any pantry.
- QUALITY FROM SEED TO SHELF: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts takes only the freshest, highest quality hemp seeds from field to table. Since 1998, we’ve grown our portfolio of hemp products with a dedication to quality, sustainability, and consumer wellness as a global leader in hemp foods.
- A FIT FOR A VARIETY OF DIETS & LIFESTYLES: USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Keto Certified, Paleo Certified, Gluten Free, Vegan, Whole 30 Approved and Kosher.
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 (rx).
SUMMARY:Hemp seeds are a great source of protein and contain all the essential amino acids. Hemp seed oil may help reduce symptoms of eczema and other chronic inflammatory conditions.
4. Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds are commonly consumed in Asia, and also in Western countries as part of a paste called tahini.
Similar to other seeds, they contain a wide nutrient profile. One ounce (28 grams) of sesame seeds contains (rx):
- Calories: 160
- Fiber: 3.3 grams
- Protein: 5 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 5.3 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 6 grams
- Copper: 57% of the RDI
- Manganese: 34% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 25% of the RDI
Like flaxseeds, sesame seeds contain a lot of lignans, particularly one called sesamin. In fact, sesame seeds are the best known dietary source of lignans.
A couple of interesting studies have shown that sesamin from sesame seeds may get converted by your gut bacteria into another type of lignan called enterolactone (rx, rx).
Enterolactone can act like the sex hormone estrogen, and lower-than-normal levels of this lignan in the body have been associated with heart disease and breast cancer (rx).
Another study found that postmenopausal women who ate 50 grams of sesame seed powder daily for five weeks had significantly lower blood cholesterol and improved sex hormone status (rx).
Sesame seeds may also help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which can worsen symptoms of many disorders, including arthritis.
One study showed that people with knee osteoarthritis had significantly fewer inflammatory chemicals in their blood after eating about 40 grams of sesame seed powder every day for two months (rx).
- NUTTY, MILD FLAVOR: McCormick Culinary Whole Sesame Seeds feature a nutty, mild flavor that will add an unrivaled taste and elevate any professional recipe or home-cooked meal
- HIGH QUALITY SEEDS: Bring a crunchy texture visual intrigue to the items on your menu with our white sesame seeds, sourced for their high quality flavor and uniform size
- MADE FOR CHEFS: A 16-ounce container is the perfect size for any chef's seasoning and spice collection; larger size ensures you always have enough sesame seeds on hand for garnishing orders
- VERSATILE: Great as a coating for fish and meat or in Asian noodle dishes, sushi or stir-fries; toasted seeds are ideal for sprinkling on top of soups and salads
- FEEL GOOD INGREDIENTS: Kosher with no MSG added to accommodate your customers' dietary needs; add these whole sesame seeds for flavor, texture and visual appeal with no additives
Another recent study found that after eating about 40 grams of sesame seed powder per day for 28 days, semi-professional athletes had significantly reduced muscle damage and oxidative stress, as well as increased aerobic capacity (rx).
SUMMARY:Sesame seeds are a great source of lignans, which may help improve sex hormone status for estrogen. Sesame seeds may also help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
5. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are one of the most commonly consumed types of seeds, and are good sources of phosphorus, monounsaturated fats and omega-6 fats.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of pumpkin seeds contains (rx):
- Calories: 151
- Fiber: 1.7 grams
- Protein: 7 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 4 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 6 grams
- Manganese: 42% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 37% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 33% of the RDI
Pumpkin seeds are also good sources of phytosterols, which are plant compounds that may help lower blood cholesterol (rx).
These seeds have been reported to have a number of health benefits, likely due to their wide range of nutrients.
One observational study of more than 8,000 people found that those who had a higher intake of pumpkin and sunflower seeds had a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer (rx).
Another study in children found that pumpkin seeds may help lower the risk of bladder stones by reducing the amount of calcium in urine (rx).
Bladder stones are similar to kidney stones. They’re formed when certain minerals crystalize inside the bladder, which leads to abdominal discomfort.
A couple of studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil can improve symptoms of prostate and urinary disorders (rx, rx).
These studies also showed that pumpkin seed oil may reduce symptoms of overactive bladder and improve quality of life for men with enlarged prostates.
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- USDA Certified Organic, Non-GMO, Raw, Gluten-Free, Vegan
- Unsalted and 100% organic pumpkin seeds are good for your health and for any diet.
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A study of postmenopausal women also found that pumpkin seed oil may help reduce blood pressure, increase “good” HDL cholesterol and improve menopause symptoms (rx).
SUMMARY:Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are good sources of monounsaturated and omega-6 fats, and may help improve heart health and symptoms of urinary disorders.
Sunflower seeds contain a good amount of protein, monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. One ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds contains (rx):
- Calories: 164
- Fiber: 2.4 grams
- Protein: 5.8 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 5.2 grams
- Omega-6 fats: 6.4 grams
- Vitamin E: 47% of the RDI
- Manganese: 27% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 23% of the RDI
Sunflower seeds may be associated with reduced inflammation in middle-aged and older people, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
An observational study of more than 6,000 adults found that a high intake of nuts and seeds was associated with reduced inflammation (rx).
In particular, consuming sunflower seeds more than five times per week was associated with reduced levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a key chemical involved in inflammation.
Another study examined whether eating nuts and seeds affected blood cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes (rx).
The women consumed 30 grams of sunflower seeds or almonds as part of a healthy diet every day for three weeks.
By the end of the study, both the almond and sunflower seed groups had experienced reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. The sunflower seed diet reduced triglycerides in the blood more than the almond diet, though.
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- Hunger doesn't stop, even during crunch time. Munch on a tasty seed snack and keep your game face when minutes count
- Fits a low carb lifestyle with 3 gram net carbs per serving.Gluten free
- Snack on these satisfyingly crunchy and salty sunflower seeds whenever hunger strikes
- Keto friendly snack: 9 grams of protein, 3 grams net carbs (5 grams total carbs minus 2 grams dietary fiber), and 0 gram added sugar per serving
- Roasted in the shell, this robust, salty flavor started it all
- Each serving of David sunflower seeds provides a good source of vitamin E
- A great snack choice at the game, on-the-go or anytime you crave a fun, tasty snack
However, “good” HDL cholesterol was also reduced, suggesting that sunflower seeds may reduce both good and bad types of cholesterol.
SUMMARY:Sunflower seeds contain high levels of both monounsaturated and omega-6 fats, and may help reduce inflammation and cholesterol levels.
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