Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Super Seeds - Flax, Chia and Hemp

If you keep up with the latest nutrition research and trends, you may have noticed a lot of talk about "super seeds".  These include chia, flax and hemp seeds.  These seeds aren't just the latest food fat.  Take chia seeds, for example.  The Tarahumara, a Native American people of northwestern Mexico best known as being ultrarunners, have been eating chia seeds for centuries.  Flaxseeds were consumed by ancient Egyptians as both food and medicine.  
All 3 seeds contain the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which has been linked to preventing heart disease, bowel diseases, mood swings, and inflammation. Chia, flax, and hemp seeds are all excellent sources of dietary fiber. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, populations that consume sufficient dietary fiber have less chronic diseases. With the U.S. population averaging about half of the recommended amount of dietary fiber, it is no surprise that our rates of chronic disease remain high. Adequate dietary fiber has been linked to lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol, and lower blood glucose levels.  As far as weight loss is concerned, fiber leads to more satiety, which limits overeating.

Chia Seeds
On average, chia seeds contain 5 grams of dietary fiber, 2-3 grams of  protein, and 2-2.5 grams of omega-3s per tablespoon.
Try this recipe for a delicious chia pudding:
Add 2/3 cup chia seeds, 2 cups unsweetened almond milk, and 1/3-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract to a glass jar (with lid). Close the jar and shake well to combine. Refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to eat, stir in some fresh fruit and/or unsweetened coconut.


Grind flaxseeds yourself or buy them in the ground form in order to increase the availability of its amazing nutrients. 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds average 4 grams of dietary fiber, 2.5 grams of protein, and 2.7 grams of omega-3s. The next time you make muffins, bread, or pancakes, add ground flaxseeds to the batter to add some omega-3s, fiber, iron, vitamin E, and calcium.

Hemp Seeds

No. These seeds are not for smoking.  Hemp seeds are a unique plant food because they contain all the essential amino acids. With their restrictive diets, vegetarians and vegans tend to be missing some of these amino acids, which make hemp seeds a great protein source for those avoiding animal products. Hemp seeds are also high in omega-3s and average 2 grams of dietary fiber and 5 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons. Hemp seeds taste great toasted, mixed into salads, or ground as a healthier alternative to peanut butter.

Thank you to my intern, Nicole Raimondo, for writing this guest post.



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