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Top 10 Healthiest Seeds to Eat + Their Benefits

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Healthiest seeds - Dr. Axe

Seeds are a versatile ingredient that can be used to add a quick pop of texture and nutrition to nearly any meal. From chia seed pudding to roasted pumpkin seeds to pine nut pesto and beyond, there are endless ways to squeeze in your daily dose of the healthiest seeds while bumping up your intake of protein, fiber and heart-healthy fats.

Which seeds are good for health? What seeds should I eat daily? And what are the best seeds to eat for weight loss, heart health or better digestion? Let’s take a look at a few of the top super seeds for health that you should be eating.


What Are Seeds?

The official seeds definition is a type of embryonic plant that is surrounded by a protective outer covering. Seeds are produced by the ovule of the plant following its fertilization by pollen and composed of two main structures: the embryo and the seed coat.

Many types of seeds are edible and chock-full of important nutrients and health benefits. Sunflower seeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds are just a few examples of nutritious seeds that can easily be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet.

Seeds vs. Nuts

Many people confuse nuts and seeds — and for good reason. Both are incredibly nutritious and used to add a tasty crunch to dishes. However, botanically, the two are different. In fact, while seeds are classified as embryonic plants enclosed by an outer covering, nuts are actually considered a type of fruit composed of a hard shell and an edible seed.

That said, both nuts and seeds are loaded with important nutrients, such as fiber, protein and heart-healthy fats. Therefore, you should aim to include a good variety of healthy seeds and nuts in your diet to take advantage of the benefits that each has to offer.

Seeds vs. Grains

Grains are defined as small, hard, edible fruit from cereal grass plants, such as rice or wheat. Other common types of grains include millet, sorghum, barley, oats and rye. Because of their durability, grains are often considered staple foods in many areas around the globe.

Certain types of seeds are actually considered pseudocereal grains and are often used similarly to grains. Quinoa and chia seeds, for instance, are technically seeds but classified as pseudocereal grains as well.

Seeds vs. Beans

Beans are types of legumes that belong to the Fabaceae family of plants and can be considered seeds in some cases. In fact, legumes are actually defined as “the fruit or seed of plants of the legume family (such as peas or beans) used for food.”

Some of the most common types of beans include black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans and pinto beans. Like seeds, beans offer a good amount of fiber and protein in each serving as well as a wealth of micronutrients that are essential to health.


Top 6 Benefits of the Healthiest Seeds

  1. Support Weight Loss
  2. Boost Digestive Health
  3. Regulate Blood Sugar
  4. Fight Free Radical Formation
  5. Good Source of Plant-Based Protein
  6. Incredibly Nutrient-Dense

1. Support Weight Loss

Incorporating a variety of healthy seeds for weight loss into your diet can be incredibly beneficial. This is because seeds are loaded with fiber and protein, both of which are key to promoting healthy weight loss. Fiber moves through the digestive tract slowly to help keep you feeling fuller for longer. Meanwhile, protein works to decrease levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates feelings of hunger in the body. In one 2017 study out of Turkey, consuming chia seeds as part of a mid-morning snack increased satiety, reduced hunger and decreased cravings for sugary foods, all of which could potentially lead to weight loss.

2. Boost Digestive Health

In general, the healthiest seeds are typically high in dietary fiber, a nutrient that plays a central role in digestive health. Not only does it add bulk to the stool to promote regularity, but fiber has also been shown to protect against issues like hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, intestinal ulcers and constipation. Fiber also helps feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can have a huge impact on immune function, mental health, nutrient absorption and more.

3. Regulate Blood Sugar

The fiber found in seeds helps slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, stabilizing blood sugar levels to prevent sudden spikes and crashes. Not only can this help prevent diabetes symptoms, but it may also protect against the development of chronic conditions like heart disease. Certain types of seeds, such as flaxseed, have also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. This allows insulin to work more efficiently in the body to keep blood sugar steady.

4. Fight Free Radical Formation

Most of the healthiest seeds are jam-packed with manganese, an important micronutrient that plays a vital role in health. Not only is it used as a cofactor for many enzymes in the body, but manganese also acts as a powerful antioxidant to fight free radicals and protect cells against oxidative damage. This can have far-reaching effects on nearly every aspect of health and may be especially beneficial in the prevention of conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

5. Good Source of Plant-Based Protein

Adding a few servings of the healthiest seeds into your diet can bump up protein intake to help you meet your daily needs. Protein is vital to wound healing and tissue repair, immune function, muscle growth and more. Not getting enough protein in your diet can have detrimental effects on health, resulting in symptoms like an increased risk of infection, greater appetite and stunted growth. Although the protein content of different seeds can vary pretty widely, most varieties offer around five to 10 grams of protein in each serving.

6. Incredibly Nutrient-Dense

In addition to providing a good amount of both protein and fiber in each serving, seeds also supply a wide range of other micronutrients as well. Hemp seeds, for example, are a great source of manganese and vitamin E, while sesame seeds are rich in copper and calcium. One thing that all seeds have in common, however, is that they are incredibly nutrient-dense foods and excellent additions to a healthy, balanced diet.


Top 10 Healthiest Seeds to Eat

Adding a variety of seeds to your diet is an easy way to squeeze some extra nutrients into your day. So which are the healthiest seeds to eat? Here are the 10 best seeds for your health, plus a few of the main health benefits that each of the healthiest seeds below has to offer.

1. Flaxseeds

Flaxseed Nutrition Facts

Flaxseeds are a great source of protein and fiber, as well as key micronutrients like manganese, thiamine and magnesium. One ounce of flax seeds contains approximately:

  • 150 calories
  • 8.1 grams carbohydrates
  • 5.1 grams protein
  • 11.8 grams fat
  • 7.6 grams dietary fiber
  • 0.7 milligrams manganese (35 percent DV)
  • 0.5 milligrams thiamine (31 percent DV)
  • 110 milligrams magnesium (27 percent DV)
  • 180 milligrams phosphorus (18 percent DV)
  • 0.3 milligrams copper (17 percent DV)
  • 7.1 micrograms selenium (10 percent DV)

Flaxseed Benefits

  • Supports Regularity
  • Improves Weight Loss
  • Keeps You Feeling Full
  • High in Bone-Building Manganese
  • Promotes Brain Health

2. Hemp Seeds

Hemp Seed Nutrition Facts

Hemp seeds are loaded with important nutrients. In addition to supplying a good amount of protein and healthy fats, hemp seeds are also packed with manganese, vitamin E and magnesium. One ounce of hemp seeds contains approximately:

  • 161 calories
  • 3.3 grams carbohydrates
  • 9.2 grams protein
  • 12.3 grams fat
  • 2 grams dietary fiber
  • 2.8 milligrams manganese (140 percent DV)
  • 15.4 milligrams vitamin E (77 percent DV)
  • 300 milligrams magnesium (75 percent DV)
  • 405 milligrams phosphorus (41 percent DV)
  • 5 milligrams zinc (34 percent DV)
  • 3.9 milligrams iron (22 percent DV)

Hemp Seed Benefits

  • Loaded with Antioxidants
  • Protects Against Chronic Disease
  • Supports Skin Health
  • Rich in Heart-Healthy Fats
  • Promotes Muscle Growth

3. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Seed Nutrition Facts

Not only are pumpkin seeds high in healthy fats and protein, but they’re also rich in manganese, magnesium and phosphorus as well. One ounce of dried pumpkin seeds contains approximately:

  • 151 calories
  • 5 grams carbohydrates
  • 6.9 grams protein
  • 12.8 grams fat
  • 1.1 grams dietary fiber
  • 0.8 milligrams manganese (42 percent DV)
  • 150 milligrams magnesium (37 percent DV)
  • 329 milligrams phosphorus (33 percent DV)
  • 4.2 milligrams iron (23 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligrams copper (19 percent DV)
  • 14.4 micrograms vitmain K (18 percent DV)
  • 2.1 milligrams zinc (14 percent DV)

Pumpkin Seed Benefits

  • Good Source of Antioxidants
  • Enhances Regularity
  • Quick and Convenient Snack Option
  • High in Plant-Based Protein
  • Helps Prevent Iron-Deficiency Anemia

4. Poppy Seeds

Poppy Seed Nutrition Facts

Poppy seeds are a good source of fiber, plus contain a hearty dose of manganese and calcium. One ounce of poppy seeds contains approximately:

  • 147 calories
  • 7.9 grams carbohydrates
  • 5 grams protein
  • 11.6 grams fat
  • 5.5 grams dietary fiber
  • 1.9 milligrams manganese (94 percent DV)
  • 403 milligrams calcium (40 percent DV)
  • 97.2 milligrams magnesium (24 percent DV)
  • 244 milligrams phosphorus (24 percent DV)
  • 0.5 milligrams copper (23 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams thiamine (16 percent DV)
  • 2.2 milligrams zinc (15 percent DV)
  • 2.7 milligrams iron (15 percent DV)

Poppy Seed Benefits

  • Improves Digestive Health
  • Boosts Bone Strength
  • Fights Free Radicals
  • Aids in Chronic Disease Prevention
  • Amps up Weight Loss

5. Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower Seed Nutrition Facts

Adding sunflower seeds to your diet is an easy way to boost your intake of vitamin E, thiamine and manganese. One ounce of dried sunflower seeds contains approximately:

  • 164 calories
  • 5.6 grams carbohydrates
  • 5.8 grams protein
  • 14.4 grams fat
  • 2.4 grams dietary fiber
  • 9.3 milligrams vitamin E (47 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligrams thiamine (28 percent DV)
  • 0.5 milligrams manganese (27 percent DV)
  • 0.5 milligrams copper (25 percent DV)
  • 91 milligrams magnesium (23 percent DV)
  • 14.8 micrograms selenium (21 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligrams vitamin B6 (19 percent DV)
  • 63.6 micrograms folate (16 percent DV)

Sunflower Seed Benefits

  • Convenient and Portable Snack
  • Keeps Skin Healthy
  • Reduces Inflammation
  • Maintains Healthy Cholesterol Levels
  • Lowers Blood Sugar

 

Top 10 healthiest seeds to eat - Dr. Axe

 

6. Chia Seeds

Chia Seed Nutrition Facts

Compared to other types of seeds, chia seeds are one of the best sources of fiber available. They also supply a good amount of manganese, phosphorus and calcium, as well as protein and heart-healthy fats. One ounce of chia seeds contains approximately:

  • 137 calories
  • 12.3 grams carbohydrates
  • 4.4 grams protein
  • 8.6 grams fat
  • 10.6 grams dietary fiber
  • 0.6 milligrams manganese (30 percent DV)
  • 265 milligrams phosphorus (27 percent DV)
  • 177 milligrams calcium (18 percent DV)

Chia Seed Benefits

  • Supports Gut Health
  • High in Plant-Based Protein
  • Strengthens Bones
  • Improves Heart Health
  • Prevents Constipation

7. Sesame Seeds

Sesame Seed Nutrition Facts

Sesame seeds are bursting with important vitamins and minerals, such as copper, manganese, calcium and magnesium. One ounce of dried sesame seeds contains approximately:

  • 160 calories
  • 6.6 grams carbohydrates
  • 5 grams protein
  • 13.9 grams fat
  • 3.3 grams dietary fiber
  • 1.1 milligrams copper (57 percent DV)
  • 0.7 milligrams manganese (34 percent DV)
  • 273 milligrams calcium (27 percent DV)
  • 98.3 milligrams magnesium (25 percent DV)
  • 4.1 milligrams iron (23 percent DV)
  • 176 milligrams phosphorus (18 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams thiamine (15 percent DV)
  • 2.2 milligrams zinc (14 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams vitamin B6 (11 percent DV)

Sesame Seed Benefits

  • Promotes Healthy Blood Cell Formation
  • Strengthens Bones
  • Good Source of Protein
  • Reduces Blood Pressure
  • Protects Against Anemia

8. Pine Nuts

Pine Nut Nutrition Facts

Despite their name, pine nuts are actually classified botanically as a type of seed. In addition to being a great source of vitamin K, pine nuts are also high in vitamin K, copper and magnesium. One ounce of pine nuts contains approximately:

  • 190 calories
  • 3.7 grams carbohydrates
  • 3.9 grams protein
  • 19.3 grams fat
  • 1 gram dietary fiber
  • 2.5 milligrams manganese (124 percent DV)
  • 15.2 micrograms vitamin K (19 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligrams copper (19 percent DV)
  • 70.9 milligrams magnesium (18 percent DV)
  • 162 milligrams phosphorus (16 percent DV)
  • 2.6 milligrams vitamin E (13 percent DV)
  • 1.8 milligrams zinc (12 percent DV)

Pine Nut Benefits

  • Supports Brain Function
  • Maintains Healthy Blood Clotting
  • Keeps Bones Strong
  • Improves Iron Absorption
  • Versatile and Easy to Enjoy

9. Quinoa

Quinoa Nutrition Facts

Quinoa can often be found on the list of healthy seeds and grains because it’s prepared and consumed as a grain but is actually considered a type of edible seed. One cup of cooked quinoa contains approximately:

  • 222 calories
  • 39.4 grams carbohydrates
  • 8.1 grams protein
  • 3.6 grams fat
  • 5.2 grams dietary fiber
  • 1.2 milligrams manganese (58 percent DV)
  • 118 milligrams magnesium (30 percent DV)
  • 281 milligrams phosphorus (28 percent DV)
  • 77.7 micrograms folate (19 percent DV)
  • 0.4 milligrams copper (18 percent DV)
  • 2.8 milligrams iron (15 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams thiamine (13 percent DV)
  • 2 milligrams zinc (13 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams riboflavin (12 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams vitamin B6 (11 percent DV)

Quinoa Benefits

  • Complete, Plant-Based Protein
  • Good Source of B Vitamins
  • Supports Regularity
  • Rich in Iron
  • Promotes Muscle and Nerve Function

10. Pomegranate Seeds

Pomegranate Seed Nutrition Facts

Pomegranate seeds are low in calories yet jam-packed with fiber, vitamin K and vitamin C. A half-cup serving of pomegranate seeds contains approximately:

  • 72 calories
  • 16.3 grams carbohydrates
  • 1.5 grams protein
  • 1 gram fat
  • 3.5 grams dietary fiber
  • 14.3 micrograms vitamin K (18 percent DV)
  • 8.9 milligrams vitamin C (15 percent DV)
  • 33 micrograms folate (8 percent DV)
  • 205 milligrams potassium (6 percent DV)
  • 0.07 milligram vitamin B6 (4 percent DV)
  • 31 milligrams phosphorus (3 percent DV)

Pomegranate Seed Benefits

  • Maintains Normal Blood Clotting
  • Boosts Immune Function
  • Rich in Antioxidants
  • Aids in Weight Management
  • Prevents Constipation

Precautions

Enjoying a few servings of organic seeds per day is a great way to enhance the quality of your overall diet. Not only that, but they’re also easy to enjoy, and there are a number of different recipes out there for how to roast pumpkin seeds, how to eat chia seeds, the proper way to prepare quinoa and more.

If you have an allergy or experience any adverse side effects after eating certain seeds, discontinue use and discuss with your doctor. Food allergy symptoms like hives, itching or rashes can often be indicative of a serious problem.

As with any high-fiber food, it’s important to increase your intake gradually to prevent digestive issues like bloating or constipation. Be sure to also drink plenty of water, which helps promote the passage of food through the body and keeps you hydrated.

Finally, while adding a serving or two of roasted pumpkin seeds to your diet can definitely be beneficial, it’s unlikely to have much of an impact unless combined with a nutritious, well-rounded diet and healthy lifestyle. In addition to the healthiest seeds, fill your diet with a variety of fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein foods and healthy fats to maximize the potential health benefits.


Final Thoughts on Healthiest Seeds to Eat

  • Seeds are defined as any type of embryonic plant that is surrounded by a protective outer covering. Nutritionally and botanically, there are many similarities and differences between seeds and other ingredients, such as nuts, beans and grains.
  • In addition to being high in protein and nutrient-dense, the healthiest seeds are associated with several benefits, including increased weight loss, improved digestive health and better blood sugar control.
  • A few of the healthiest seeds include flax, hemp, pumpkin, poppy, sunflower, chia, sesame and pomegranate seeds, as well as quinoa and pine nuts.
  • Adding a few servings of the healthiest seeds to your daily diet can have a huge impact on overall health and wellness.

Read Next: Can You Eat Celery Seed? Top 5 Celery Seed Benefits

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