When you look at the healthiest diets, they emphasize vegetables and fruits, meats and poultry, eggs, safe starches like sweet potatoes, yams, sprouted legumes like lentils and beans, herbs and spices, raw nuts and seeds, etc. Most people eat most of these foods. They post pictures of their green shakes, slow cooked meats, smoked BBQ, sweet potato fries (baked is a better option, but you already knew that), their handful nuts. But for some reason, I don’t see people eating seeds. The reason I think is because they usually cannot be found in most grocery stores. And when you find them at some like Whole Foods or Sprouts, they can be expensive. First of all, you can find them on Amazon which can deliver them to you as soon as on the same day. Also, you use only about 1-3 tablespoons of them. So, the servings number per container, given that the container you buy isn’t tiny, is a large number. This means that you buy a bag of these and finish that bag in months. The cost per serving comes out to be very low, while the nutrient density per serving is very high. I just realized that I haven’t even mentioned which seeds I’m talking about (but you smart cookies probably guessed one of them): chia and hemp seeds. Before I break down the details about these seeds, I need to say one thing about seeds, and unfortunately it is a bad thing. All (I’m like 99% sure) seeds contain phytic acid. Phytic acid is known to cause some vital nutrients not to get absorbed. This is simply because some nutrients bind to phytic acid and become non-absorbable for the human body. On the other hand, because these seeds are packed with nutrients, some of which (I think) are not affected by phytic acid content, they should/can be included in everyday diet.
The story is that the Aztec and Mayan civilizations loved their chia seeds. They come packed with nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids like Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), calcium, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, Vitamins A, some B’s, D, E and more. One-ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds has 11 grams of fiber which will help with slowing digestion so that you feel full and get lower blood sugar response, and feeding your microbiome. ALA is shown to be beneficial for blood sugar response. It is actually used as a supplement in the amount of, usually, 100 mg. 1 tablespoon of chia seeds contain much more than that. Our bodies can actually convert ALA into EPA and DHA (other omega-3 fatty acids). But be mindful that this conversion is very low, so you should still have wild-caught fish in an optimal diet. Because it contains calcium and phosphorus, chia seeds can be important for bone and tooth health. It is also a good source of the amino acid tryptophan, the amino acid found in turkey, that helps regulate sleep and appetite and improve mood. With all these amazing nutrients and benefits, chia seeds should be in everyone’s daily diet. The way I consume them is by putting a tablespoon of them in my smoothies which adds crunch and thickens my smoothie. If you are not a fan of making smoothies, you can simply soak them in a glass of water for about 10 minutes and put them on your salad or other dishes.
Hemp seeds are close cousins of chia seeds, at least to my eyes. They also come packed full of nutrients and actually higher in protein. They contain all essential amino acids. And for that reason, if you are a vegan or a vegetarian, they are a must-to-have. Hemp seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids but the percentage is lower than of chia seeds. But with a balanced diet, this should not scare you. They are rich in Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) which is an essential building block for some hormone-like chemicals in our bodies. Hemp seeds are also high in iron, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc which adds to its benefits. Thanks to its antioxidant content, hemp seeds are amazing for your skin, hair and nails. Moreover, hemp and hemp oil are used in body care and cleaning products, clothing, making paper, building materials, and even ropes. The last cool fact about hemp seeds is that they are a variety of the cannabis plant. But eating hemp seeds will not make you high like marijuana.
There are other seeds that should be in your diet such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, etc. But we’ll get to those in a later article. For now, enjoy some soaked chia seeds on your salad, toss them in your smoothies with a couple tablespoons of shelled hemp seeds. The brands I use at the moment are Nutiva Shelled Hemp Seeds and Terrasoul White Chia Seeds. I have no affiliation with either company, but I do enjoy their tasty seeds.