Scrumptious Seeds

By Allison Hammett

Last month, I wrote about the many nutritional elements of tree nuts. This month I would like to touch upon seeds. Nuts are actually the seeds of trees with a hard shell, so many of the same benefits of tree nuts will be found in the similar nuts of plants. Pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds are all very well known. You may already be enjoying them as snack or as an ingredient of your baking or cooking.

These three seeds all contain similar elements, while each is also healthy in some unique way. These seeds contain high concentrations of important vitamins, minerals, healthy oils, amino acids, protein and fiber. Among the many vitamins found in seeds, they are especially a good source of the B vitamins and vitamin E. These vitamins aid the body in maintaining a strong nervous and cardiovascular system. Some of the healthy minerals found in these seeds are magnesium, copper, calcium, potassium, zinc and phosphorus. These minerals are vital to the health of your bones, vascular system, and respiratory system. Copper is beneficial to the body in helping to reduce pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis.

Sesame seeds that have not been hulled are one of the highest sources of calcium in the world. Magnesium and phosphorus work together within the body to absorb calcium. Potassium can help rid the body of excess sodium. Amino acids and healthy oils also play a role in the overall health of our bodies, being important for absorbing nutrients and benefiting the many systems that make our bodies function efficiently. Sunflower seeds are approximately fifty percent healthy oil and contain linoleic acid, an important fatty acid. Phytosterols are found in pumpkin seeds. Both linoleic acid and phytosterols are believed to aid in lowering cholesterol. Linoleic acid actually helps to break down cholesterol deposits in the veins and arteries so they can be removed from the body. Two other elements found in sesame seeds can also lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, as well as protect the liver. They are known as sesamin and sesmolin and belong to a group of beneficial fibers called lignans. Sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds are even thought to be helpful in removing intestinal worms and parasites from the body!

Maintaining healthy cardiovascular, nervous, and respiratory systems will help to avoid many chronic health problems. Adding seeds to your daily diet may help to avoid or treat health problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems, allergic reactions, asthma, migraines, bone problems, and inflammation.

Some suggested uses for including these seeds in your diet are to add them to salads, breads, cooked vegetables, or fruit desserts. Just be creative and you will be surprised at how tasty seeds are, and how they complement many of the foods that you already eat. Of course, you can also snack on seeds alone by the handful! Just being sure to avoid overly salted or seasoned and sugared varieties; raw is best!

I am constantly amazed by the health benefits that can be found in the foods that God has provided for us. In this case, we can truly say that many of us may have underestimated the potential of a seed!



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