Seeds make up a large percentage of the world’s food supply. The three top food crops are rice, wheat and corn – all grains, which are seeds. Many of our most popular and pungent spices are seeds: cloves, star anise, coriander seed, mustard seeds, cumin seed, fennel seed, etc… A host of other seeds are used by themselves, such as flax seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin and squash seeds, chia seeds and sunflower seeds. Think how much poorer our diets would be without seeds such as black and white peppercorns, poppy seeds, celery seeds or nutmeg. Other healthy whole foods that are also seeds are nuts, dried beans, chocolate and coffee.
Seeds have become such an important part of the human diet because of the nutrition and flavor they contain. They need these nutrients because every seed must have the ability to start a new life and sustain that life until it can grow sufficient roots and leaves to feed itself. Seeds are the eggs of the plant world. All of the nutrients necessary to grow a baby plant of that particular species have to be inside every seed. Even more phytonutrients are in the outer shells of seeds to protect them from bacteria and fungus. All of these nutrients are what give so many seeds their strong flavors and aromas. This is why seeds are such a great source of important fats and protein.
I think a wide variety of seeds belong in every healthy whole food diet. Seeds can easily be incorporated into every meal. Every meal will benefit nutritionally from the addition of seeds, as will our health. Each seed might not contain much of any single nutrient but does contain a very wide range of total nutrients. It is the synergistic actions of all of the nutrients working together with our bodies that make seeds so good for us.
Some suggestions for getting more of the health benefits offered by seeds into your diet:
*Sprinkle sunflower, pumpkin, squash, sesame, flax, hemp and/or chia seeds over green salads
* Add sesame, flax, chia and sunflower seeds to bread, rolls and muffins when baking
*Season pots of stew or dried beans with whole peppercorns, mustard seeds, cumin and coriander seeds, celery seeds and others. They impart all of their flavor and nutrition to the food and soften enough to be easily eaten with long cooking times.
*Use whole cloves, star anise, anise seeds and chunks of nutmeg to spice up a cup of tea or to make a tea on their own. Just add to the cup with your favorite tea for a lot of extra flavor and a load of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds.
*Add some sesame, flax, hemp and/or chia seeds to smoothies for extra nutrition and protein.
*Grind pumpkin, squash and flax seeds in a food processor until fine to get a nutritious, gluten-free thickener for sauces and soups.
*Sunflower, flax, sesame and chia seeds are all wonderful in meatloaf and vegetable loaf, acting as a binder and adding texture and flavor.
Following is a list of links for more in-depth information on seeds: