Edible seeds and nuts are not only nutritious but can add a nice crunch to yogurt, cereal, salads and casseroles. Most have a mild, and slightly nutty flavor. They are rich in polyunsaturated fats, fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin E and magnesium—but they also add calories. Dieters beware—a few tablespoons here and there of nuts and seeds from the salad bar can add another 200 to 400 calories!
Flax is a source of health protective ALA omega-3 fats. You need to grind the seed or else it will passwhole through your digestive tract.
Chia, like flax, is a source of ALA omega-3 fats. ALA is not as effective as fish and animal sources of omega-3, but any omega-3 is better for your health than nothing. When soaked in water for 10 minutes, chia seeds create a gel that can be used as a thickener for smoothies and as an alternative to eggs and oils in some recipes.
Sunflower seeds have a pleasing taste when added to a salad, muffins, or cereal. Sunflower butter is a popular alternative to peanut butter, and is rich in healht-healthy polyunsaturated fats
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, have a nutrient profile similar to other seeds.
Hemp contains all the essential amino acids, adding aboost to vegan diets.
Sesame seeds have a gentle flavor. They make a nice coating for sauteed or baked chicken breasts (in place of—or in addition to—bread crumbs).
Here is how their nutritional value compares. Note how the calories can add up quickly. They offer some protein, but for a vegan athlete who may need at least 60 to 90 grams of protein per day, they are not a strong protein source. The same goes for calcium and iron; nuts and seeds are a source of those nutrients, but generally not a strong source -- unless you happen to enjoy lots of sesame seeds (for calcium) and chia (for iron)!
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