Super Seeds!

August 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm Leave a comment

There are so many types of seeds around at the moment and there are often confusing messages given about each. With chia, flax and hemp to name a few, they all claim to be the next ‘superfood’ and are all vying to be added into your diet! The truth is, every different seed has its own health benefits and we’re here to clear up some of the confusion.


Hemp Seeds

These seeds have had a hard time trying to shake off the image given to them by their prolific cousin (marijuana) however they are finally being taken seriously. These seeds are soft and nutty and come from one of the most sustainable plants on Earth!

Why are they good?

The perfect ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids is 4:1. This means that for every 4g of Omega 6 we consume, we must consumer 1g of pure Omega 3. Hemp seeds contain an almost perfect ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 of 3.75:1 which means it can be utilised in the optimum way by the body. Hemp seeds are also a complete source of protein and contain the 10 essential amino acids that cannot be synthesised in he body. Just one 30g serving contains over 100% of your recommended Omega 3 intake for the day!

How should I use them?

These seeds have a delicious nutty flavour and can be used to sprinkle on top of salads, stir fries, yoghurts and cereal. They can also be be added into bread and cakes or whizzed up into smoothies.

Is there a downside?

Hemp seeds are completely allergen-free and do not contain any harmful substances so there isn’t any particular downside!


Flax Seeds

Also known as linseeds, these are grown from hardy plants that can survive in almost any climate. The seeds are chewy and come in two varieties: brown and yellow or golden.

Why are they good?

Flax contains high levels of Omega 3 which can help to lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in the blood and increase the ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL). They also contain lignans which are a phytoestrogen considered to have antioxidant properties. 

How should I use them?

To get the most out of flax seeds they need to be ground, as the outer shell is so hard. Ground flax can be sprinkled onto yoghurts and cereal or added into biscuits and cakes. 

Is there a downside?

As flax seeds are so high in fibre, if they are eaten in large quantities this can cause stomach pain and have a laxative effect. Also, it is advised that flax seeds are cooked before eating as they contain small amounts of cyanogenic glycosides (cynanide). Finally, the phytoestrogens contained in the lignans may be unadvisable to eat for pregnant women. 


Chia Seeds

These little seeds are from the Salvia Hispanica plant which is related to mint. They were an important food for the Aztecs and chia is actually the Mayan word for ‘strength’. However they have recently undergone an impressive revival!

Why are they good?

Chia seeds are particularly high in fibre and can absorb 10-12 times their weight in water. They are also higher in Omega 3 than salmon! They are high in calcium and magnesium so can contribute towards bone health too. 

How should I use them?

They can be eaten raw, soaked in juice, added to porridges and puddings, or added to baked goods.You can also sprinkle them on top of cereal, yogurt, vegetables or rice dishes. Because of their ability to absorb both water and fat, they can be used to thicken sauces and even used as an egg substitute.

Is there a downside?

Even though they may be high in Omega 3, the Omega 3 they are high in is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). This is not as beneficial as you may think as they cannot be converted by the body into a useable form. Also, as they are so high in fibre there could be digestive issues if too many are consumed. 


Which seeds should I eat?

All seeds have their own unique properties and they say that variety is the spice of life! In terms of Omega 3 and protein, hemp seeds are clearly the ones to go for. They are also particularly good for the planet and come from one of the most sustainable plants on Earth. 

If it’s fibre you’re mainly interested in, chia seeds may be the way to go! On the other hand, flax may be a better option as they contain greater levels of antioxidants. 

All in all it is clear to see that all of these seeds have their own benefits and drawback. All of them also have a rightly deserved place in our diet too!


Nutritional Info per 100g

Seed Calories Fat Saturated fat Omega 6 Omega 3 Omega 6: Omega 3 Protein Fibre
Hemp (shelled) 580 45 3.7g 53g 16.2g 3.75:1 34.4g 10g
Flax 534 42.1 3.6g 5.9g 22.8g 0.2:1 18.3g 27.3g
Chia 490 30.8g 3.2g 57.8g 17.5g 03:01 15.6g 37.7g
Pumpkin 559 49g 2g 5.6g 4.9g 107.8:1 30.2g 6g
Sesame 567 48g 6.7g 25g 0 55.7:1 16.9g 16.9g
Sunflower 584 51.5g 5.7g 28.2g 0 312.1:1 20.8g 8.6g

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