Contributed by: Michelle Baglio, RD, LD
Many of us already know that consuming a diet rich in healthy fats typically includes one or more daily servings of nuts, such as a handful of almonds or a few tablespoons of peanut butter. However, if you’re not including seeds such as chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower, or sesame, then you’re missing out on several nutritional powerhouses. A one-ounce serving typically provides:
• Healthy Unsaturated Fats: Ground flaxseed and chia seeds provide good sources of omega-3 rich fats, while the others supply good sources of other mono- and/or poly-unsaturated fats, all of which are anti-inflammatory and heart healthy
• Protein: Seeds are an excellent vegetarian source of protein supplying 4-8 grams per ounce. Hemp seeds are considered a complete protein source, which means they contain all the essential amino acids that your body cannot make.
• Fiber: The best seed sources of fiber per ounce are flaxseeds (~8 grams) and chia seeds (~11 grams) with sesame seeds (~3 grams) and sunflower seeds (~2.5 grams) to follow. Fiber supports healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels and keep hunger at bay.
• Vitamins: Seeds may supply some of your daily vitamin needs. Sunflower seeds are rich in Vitamin E and several B vitamins; pumpkin seeds supply a good source of vitamin K; hemp seeds are rich in thiamin.
• Minerals: Many contain good (>10% of the Daily Value) or excellent sources (>20% of the Daily Value) of many minerals including magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, zinc, iron, and/or selenium.
Here are a few easy tips to add seeds into your diet: snack on an ounce as an in between snack, sprinkle 2-4 tablespoons on your salad, stir them into your oatmeal or yogurt, or add them to quick breads and muffins. You can also try out this recipe from our 21-Day CLEAN as a protein- and fiber-rich tasty replacement for your traditional protein or granola bar:
Maple Cinnamon Granola Bars
¾ c. mashed ripe banana
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. quick-cooking oats
½ c. sunflower seeds
½ c. pumpkin seeds
¼ c. hemp hearts
2 tbsp. maple syrup, honey, or coconut sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8×8-inch baking dish with oil or line with parchment paper. Pour all ingredients into a large bowl, stirring until thoroughly combined (the mixture will be very wet). Spoon into prepared baking dish, using a spatula or wet hands to press until evenly distributed. Bake in preheated oven for about 22 minutes or until firm and lightly golden around the edges. Remove from oven and place on rack to cool. Slice into 8 bars.
Nutrition Info (per bar): 192 calories, 7 g. protein, 17 g. carb (4 g. fiber), 11 g. fat