Importance of Diet
Our diet plays a huge role in our health and well-being. People who eat well experience more health benefits, like improved weight control and cancer prevention. In fact, eating healthy is one of the best ways to fight obesity.
Improving our eating habits gives us more energy during the day and better sleep at night. Mood, memory and cognitive functions are also improved when we make healthy food choices, and there is also a reduced chance of anxiety and depression when we are well nourished.
Basically, when we give our bodies the fuel it needs to perform optimally, we are more motivated to live well in every area of our lives with more self-confidence and fulfillment.
Incorporating Seeds Into Your Diet
Seeds are a superstore of nutrition. Although the specific benefits vary from seed to seed, each provides a healthy source of energy and protein. Also, because they are a natural, whole food, you can rest assured in knowing exactly what you are eating when you consume these little gems.
There are many ways to incorporate seeds into your diet. Add a tablespoon to smoothies as a thickener, to salads for a bit more texture or to rice to give a nutty flavor.
For the more advanced and adventurous cook, there are porridges, puddings, energy bites and granola bars that could be made with little effort. Adding seeds to well-loved recipes is a delicious and nutritious way to liven up an old favorite.
Chia seeds are tiny, black seeds that are rich in iron, calcium, fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. They have been linked to reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease as well as promoting colon health.
Besides eating these seeds, they can also be used in a face mask to help reduce inflammation and treat acne. Finally, they are great as a vegan replacement for eggs when baking since they have a binding effect when wet. But, unlike chicken eggs, chia seeds have no cholesterol.
Flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which have been associated with lowering blood pressure, reducing triglycerides, and lessening the likelihood of heart attacks and strokes.
Additionally, the lignans in flaxseed can have an anti-inflammatory effect which can help prevent diabetes. The high fiber content also promotes good digestive health as it can help with constipation and regularity.
Hemp seeds are a great source of protein. Although most people associate “hemp” with marijuana, hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, do not have any of the psychoactive chemicals that cause the typical “high” that is associated with the plant.
Hemp hearts are one of the best sources of protein because they have all nine essential amino acids. These amino acids are considered essential since they can’t be produced by the body but are required for producing everything from insulin and collagen to enzymes and antibodies.
Besides adding hemp seeds to salads, smoothies, or oatmeal, there are also hemp protein powders that are a great source of protein for vegans. Finally, hemp seed oil can be used to make salad dressings with a more earthy flavor.
Quinoa is a seed prepared like a grain so it’s often mistaken as one. This seed is gluten-free, and comes in a variety of colors, like red and black, though white is most common.
Lower in fat but higher in carbohydrates than flaxseed, quinoa is another source of all nine essential amino acids. Additionally the insoluble fiber in quinoa is a helpful way to stay regular. Try it as high protein alternative to rice or oatmeal.
Amaranth, another pseudocereal, has fewer carbs than rice, barley, and couscous, while having more fiber and protein than those grains. It is rich in vitamins and antioxidants which help reduce inflammation and thus prevent chronic illness.
Amaranth is also naturally gluten-free like quinoa but is slightly lower in calories and has more fiber, but both are great choices. Just make sure to get the water-to-seed ratio correct and not to overcook the seeds or you’ll have a mushy mess instead of a nutritious side dish.
Supercharge Your Meals
Seeds provide a great way to increase the nutrition in your food as they are an abundant source of healthy fats, protein, fiber and vitamins. Being rich in both micro and macronutrients, seeds are a low-cost way to supercharge your meals, and are easy to incorporate. Try adding one tablespoon of any one of these seeds to just one meal a day and see how you enjoy the addition of more texture and flavor to your diet.