Chia and flax seeds have dominated the food world in recent years. Both professional chefs and home cooks alike have been playfully incorporating these seeds into every meal, with recipes for everything from chia pudding to flax pancakes. And considering both of these seeds are powerhouses of nutrition, often referred to as superfoods, it’s easy to see why. But, the reality is, most seeds have these qualities. In fact, the very nature of seeds characterizes them as small, life-giving packages. They hold the nutrients that allow them to go from humble seed, maybe even get carried to a far off destination, and flourish into a prosperous plant. Luckily for us, these are the same healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals that we need to prosper! And given that nine out of every ten Americans is deficient in a key nutrient, choosing these potent sources of vitamins and minerals is imperative for our health. So in the spirit of shedding light on superfood seeds that aren’t chia or flax, here are five delicious others you can include in your diet:
1. Hemp Seeds
The plant of the hemp seed is used to make clothing, beauty products, and the impressively strong hemp rope, but its seed is just as useful! (And yes, it is from the cannabis sativa l. family but does not possess any psychoactive properties.) It is perhaps most notable for being rich in omega-3, 6, and 9 fats and a source of complete protein. But, you’ll also get your fair share of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium iron, and zinc from these seeds! Hemp seed can be added as a topping on parfaits like this Coconut Cashew Yogurt Parfait, baked right into desserts like these Chocolate Tahini Coconut Bars or used to make things like pesto or veggie burgers.
2. Sunflower Seeds
At the center of the bright and beautiful yellow sunflowers that color the summer are hundreds of delicious and nutritious seeds. These seeds provide ample protein, fiber, and healthy fats and are abundant in vitamin E, B1, B6 and B3, copper, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, and folate! They also have a high amount of phytosterols, which are great for supporting healthy cholesterol levels.
Enjoy these seeds in their shell like you might on a road trip or at a baseball game, add them as a topping on non-dairy yogurts like this Probiotic Cashew Yogurt or even make sunflower butter or cheese!
3. Pumpkin Seeds
Did you know that in that messy goop you either enjoyed or feared scraping out of your Halloween pumpkins was a bounty of nutrition? Pumpkin seeds, also called pepitas, are champions of healthy fats, fiber, and protein. They have no shortage of minerals and include manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, and iron. Try them roasted (be careful not to heat them too much) or make pumpkin seed meatballs or hummus.
4. Sesame Seeds
You’re probably most familiar with sesame seeds as the topping on a bun or ramen bowl, but they’re much more than that! They have a long history as a food ingredient and in popular culture – the term “open sesame” refers to the manner in which the seed pod bursts open when they’ve reached maturity. In addition to being a great source of fiber and phytosterols, they’re also packed with micronutrients, such as copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, selenium, and vitamin B1. Include them in your diet by making your own tahini, sesame milk or plantain sesame cookies.
5. Sacha Inchi Seeds
Last but not least, the seed with a peanut-like flavor that grows star shaped pods in the Andes Mountains of Peru. This seed has been a part of the Inca diet for thousands of years for good reason: it is a source of complete protein, fiber, omega-3, 6, and 9 fats as well as vitamin E and A. Add sacha inchi protein powder to your smoothies or eat them whole as a snack!
Include this seed or any of the above and you’re on your way to meeting all of your nutrition needs!
Lead Image Source: Nut-and-Seed Loaf