If you are a health nut, then you may want to consider stocking up on seeds this fall! Despite their tiny size, seeds are saturated with heart-healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and protein. Read on to discover which seeds are sprouting with loads of nutrients and flavor so you can munch your way to longevity!
A daily handful of seeds can help improve your muscle tone and circulation. They are abundant in the amino acid arginine, which helps fight heart disease, infertility, high blood pressure and impotence. Recognized for its anti-aging properties, arginine stimulates the pituitary gland at the base of the brain to release growth hormone. As we age, this growth hormone diminishes and can lead to cognitive decline, decreased muscle mass and sexual dysfunction. Here are three wonderful seeds to include in your longevity plan:
1. Sesame Seeds
Chinese centenarians have favored sesame oil for centuries. Rich in antioxidant properties, sesame seeds add a delicious nutty flavor and crunch to your meals, while providing your body with crucial nutrients. One large handful (about a 1/4 cup) of sesame seeds gives you approximately 74% of the daily value for copper, 31% of magnesium, 35% of calcium and about 30% of iron. In addition, sesame seeds are rich in zinc, which improves bone mineral density. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that followed 396 men between the ages of 45 and 92 found a clear correlation between low dietary intake of zinc and osteoporosis of the hip and spine. Zinc is also a powerful immune booster and may potentially shorten the duration of colds.
Tasty Tip: Sprinkle some sesame seeds into your morning bowl of oatmeal or salad for a tasty crunch!
Flaxseeds have gained fame in the nutrition spotlight for being rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. ALA is a precursor to the omega-3 fatty acid form EPA, which is found in fatty fish like salmon and sardines. Flaxseeds are an excellent vegetarian source of heart-healthy omegas that contain anti-inflammatory properties. They are also rich in lignans, hormone-like compounds that may protect women against breast cancer and reduce the incidence of hot flashes that come with menopause.
Word to the Wise: It is best to keep flaxseed oil and seeds away from light and heat to prevent oxidation. Drizzle or sprinkle some into your soups, yogurt and favorite grains for a boost of health! If you prefer the seeds, make sure to grind them so that they are easier for your body to assimilate.
3. Hemp Seeds
Cultivated in Asia and the Middle East throughout centuries for its medicinal and industrial use, hemp seeds are also rich in nutrients, including vitamin E and other immune-boosting compounds. They contain 80% of your recommended daily allowance of essential fatty acids, and just three tablespoons contain approximately 11 grams of protein. An excellent source of dietary iron, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus, hemp seeds are considered a superfood! This versatile seed can also be enjoyed as a tasty beverage. Hemp milk contains 10 essential amino acids, and for some is easier to digest than cow’s milk.
Chomp on This: Hemp is rich in the compound silica, which is a great building block for your hair, skin and nails.