While attention is often given to the nutritional qualities of nuts, their smaller cousin seeds also provide rich sources of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Seeds can also be used in meals similar to nuts'eaten whole as snacks, blended and spread on bread and crackers as butters, sprinkled on salads and ground into powder, which can be added to baked goods and pancakes. These five types of seeds offer excellent sources of nutrients without containing any natural sugar, making them healthy plant food choices for kids and adults alike. The website NutritionData.com provides nutritional information based on portion size.
This seed taken from a plant in the mint family is growing in popularity since it is a great source of omega 3 fat. One ounce of chia seeds contain 1.6 grams of omega 3 fat, which is the total amount that the Food and Drug Administration recommends eating every day. Omega 3 rich foods are important in your daily diet because most plant foods contain lots of omega 6 fat but very little omega 3 fat. Chia seeds do contain some protein, phosphorus and manganese, but virtually no vitamins or other minerals. So be sure to balance your consumption of chia seeds with other types of seeds with a more balanced nutritional profile. Consumer Reports also notes that while the unsaturated fat in chia seeds is generally healthy, they can be harmful to men with prostate problems.
Flaxseeds contain an unusually high amount of omega-3 fat, a type of fat only found very few foods that is essential to very person's diet. Omega 3 fat not only acts as an antioxidant to prevent disease, but it is used by the body to promote healthy cell growth and brain function. Flaxseeds can be purchased whole or already ground up, but should be eaten ground form since they are better absorbed in that form. One tablespoon of ground flaxseeds contains about 1.6 grams of plant omega-3 fat. Check the U.S. Department of Agriculture web site for a table indicating the amount of omega-3 you or your child should be getting daily.
Sesame seeds are incredibly nutritious, packed with 5 important minerals you should be getting daily. One ounce of these toasted seeds contains at least 25 percent of the daily recommend amount for adults of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. One ounce also contains a notable amount of protein, thiamin and vitamin B6. However, sesame seeds contain a lot of omega 6 fat but almost no omega 3 fat. So adults and children alike should make sure to eat foods higher in omega 3 fat daily. Some omega 3 rich foods include fish, chia and flaxseeds, walnuts and canola oil. Sesame seeds are commonly used in Asian cooking, sprinkled on saut'ed meats and vegetables. Sesame paste, or tahini, can be mixed into in salad dressing and is often found as an ingredient in chickpea spread, otherwise called hummus.
Sunflower seeds are another seed that can provide the same amount of protein and other nutrients as nuts. They are high in vitamin E, a natural, healing antioxidant that nourishes the cells in your body and protects your skin against sun damage, according to Dr. Weil . These seeds also contain plenty of B6 and folate, in addition to the minerals phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Finally, one ounce of sunflower seeds have 20 percent of all the pantothenic acid, or B5, you need in one day. B5 is important because it helps the body process carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and promotes healthy skin, according to the National Institutes of Health .
Pumpkin seeds are a satisfying, crunchy seed that can be eaten roasted and salted as a snack or added to salads and cooked vegetables. These seeds from the pumpkin squash are a great source of protein and magnesium, and also contain some zinc and copper. Similar to sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds are very high in omega 6 fat so they should be eaten balanced with foods high in omega 3 fat.