We already know that nuts provide a multitude of benefits to our health: healthy fats, essential nutrients and essential acids are an intrinsic part of their composition. But, the seeds, which we should not confuse with nuts, are similarly useful foods that can also be a great ally for healthy eating.
Pumpkin, sunflower seeds, or pine nuts are part of this food group that we can add to our dishes with ease and will bring us many benefits. But, in order to get the most out of them, it is necessary to know their properties well and how we should prepare them. “With the seeds, unlike nuts, we cannot absorb the nutrients they contain if we eat them directly, since they are a very resistant food, prepared to suffer extreme environmental conditions,” explains nutritionist Beatriz Cerdán, from the Aleris center. “We must soak them, hydrate them, toast them or mash them.”
Ana Amengual, a nutritionist at the Júlia Farré center, comments that although we can consider that the seeds are similar to nuts, in the sense that they have healthy fatty acids, provide proteins, minerals or antioxidants, they stand out for their high fiber content. Even so, he warns that by containing so much, the seeds can pass through our digestive system without us being able to take advantage of their benefits. That is why the professional at the Aleris center indicates that by consuming seeds “we must soak, hydrate, roast or crush them.”
Adriana Oroz Lacunza, nutritionist at the center of Barcelona Alimmenta, lists the benefits that can be provided by including seeds in our daily menus: «Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and iron, B vitamins, vitamin E, as well as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids ». In addition, he comments that they have a high protein content of vegetable origin.
Endless catalog of benefits
Although all carry similar characteristics, the properties of the seeds vary according to the type they are.
Chia and flax seeds are useful for regulating intestinal transit. The first ones stand out for their high content of fiber, antioxidants, calcium, proteins and omega 3 fatty acids. On the other hand, flax is rich in magnesium.
Hemp seeds have a high protein content (33%). In addition it also contains essential fatty acids, fiber and minerals (iron and magnesium).
Sesame seeds are rich in calcium, phytosterols and can also help us complete other sources of vegetable protein thanks to their methionine content. Consuming them can be especially easy because it is present in the gomasio. They are also a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega 6) and lecithin.
On the other hand, pumpkin seeds or pipes are a good source of magnesium, selenium and zinc. They are very low in hydrates and are rich in protein. They also have polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega 6) and lecithin and help improve intellectual performance and lower cholesterol.
Sunflower seeds are a source of Vitamin E and vitamin B1. In addition, they are also rich in lecithin, which contributes to the decrease in blood cholesterol.
Seeds for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Including seeds in our dishes may seem a priori more complicated than nuts. Nothing could be further from the truth. The three nutritionists give tips to add the seeds to our menu and maximize their benefits.
If what we want is to include them in breakfast, we can do it with yogurt. Beatriz Cerdán comments that in this case we can even let them hydrate, so that they give us a more gelatinous “pudding type” texture.
If we take them germinated, they can be very useful in baking. S
They can make flour with which to make pastries, pizzas, pastas or breads.
Adriana Oroz explains that seeds are a vehicle to increase, in an easy and tasty way, the nutritional value of our diet. Note that they can be added as topping in pureed or sauteed vegetables, in meat, fish or vegetable protein marinades, or in salad vinaigrette.
Finally, they give us the option of making vegetable drinks. An example could be with hemp, adding seeds and water. Also, we can make a paste called tahini, which is used to make humus. .