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Seeds to the rescue

Matthew Kadey, Environmental Nutrition on

Published in Health & Fitness

Build muscle with hemp seeds.

These nutty-tasting seeds or “hearts” from the hemp plant are lauded for their plant-based protein — about 10 grams in a three tablespoon serving — to aid in strengthening and building lean body mass, a key part of maintaining fat-burning metabolism and preventing injuries as we age. Unlike many plant foods, the protein contained within hemp is considered “complete” in that it provides all the essential amino acids needed for bodily functions like muscle-building. The nutritional wealth of hemp seeds includes magnesium, omega fatty acids and iron to help keep you feeling energized. It’s important to know that hemp seeds contain virtually none of the psychoactive compound THC found in marijuana.

Fortify heart health with flax.

Inexpensive yet highly nutritious flaxseed is a leading source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat considered to be important for heart health. “A small amount of ALA is converted into the fats EPA and DHA, which have a host of benefits, such as improved cardiovascular and brain health,” explains Andrews. Like chia, flax is a good source of soluble fiber, which confers more heart protection by helping to keep cholesterol numbers out of the danger zone. Flaxseeds are best consumed ground because the hard shell of the whole seed resists digestion.

Boost Brain Power with sunflower seeds.

Sunflower seeds are a stand-out source of vitamin E. Research suggests higher intakes of this fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant efficacy can help delay aspects of cognitive decline like memory loss associated with aging. More good news: vitamin E from food sources may help lessen the risk for certain cancers like colon, breast and prostate. Both unshelled and shelled sunflower seeds are available with the latter being a more convenient way to get them into your diet.

 

Seeding your diet

It’s easy to incorporate seeds into your diet. Andrews recommends sprinkling them on salads, roasted vegetables, soups, oatmeal and yogurt bowls, or mixing into smoothies, granola and baked goods like muffins. “They can also be ground up and used as a coating for fish.” Use ground flax as a binder in veggie burgers and meatballs. And the gel-forming nature of chia seeds can be exploited to create healthy jams and puddings.

(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com.)

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