ONE IN A MELON-SEEDS
By Nmami Agarwal
The story of your tasty little toasted treats, snack –seeds goes way back to your granny who asked you not to throw away seeds of some of your favorite or maybe not-so- favorite fruits. She used to soak, dry, pack, roast, what not! It was her way of getting you nibbling on something nutritious and keeping your hands out of the cookie jar. When it comes to super foods, seeds are having a moment. There is an obsession with healthy fats, protein and fiber—it’s like the trinity and seeds have them all. Of course, shortly after every health food trend, there are enterprising food companies to sell you packaged foods that contain them. So is case with the super snacks – seeds. The National Restaurant Association named protein-rich seeds as one of its ‘Top 20 Food Trends’ this year. Seeds are sustainable and have a lower impact on the environment. According to the World Resources Institute, beef production requires 20 times more land and emits 20 times more greenhouse gas emissions per unit of edible protein than plant-based protein sources. Nmami Agarwal, Clinical Dietician and Nutritionist says, “Add Seeds to your diet.
Seeds are an easy and guilt-free way to sprinkle nutrition and value onto the foods that you are already eating.”
You can consider snacking on the following seeds, they are worth it.
1. FANTASTIC FLAXSEED
Ever wondered how suddenly the common crowd has started praising flaxseed for its numerous health benefits from weight loss to diabetes to heart health? Well, originated in Egypt, it was basically used to wrap up the mummies. So this super food which is known as ‘Alsi’ in Hindi, has emerged the Indian market from the Mediterranean region. Flaxseed is found in all kinds of foods from crackers to frozen waffles to oatmeal.
Before you toss them in your meals, here are a few properties of these seeds:
- Loaded with the good fat omega-3, it shuns away bad fat from your body which helps to maintain your cholesterol level and synthesis of steroid hormones. So when anyone says that flaxseeds are beneficial for your heart, you know the component behind it.
- Flaxseed contain 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods. Lignans have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. When a woman reaches menopause, there is a hormonal imbalance and sudden withdrawal of estrogen levels. Having 1 teaspoon of flaxseed can help to maintain those estrogen levels. Enriched with antioxidant qualities, it’s good for your hair and skin.
- Flaxseeds are known to contain both soluble and insoluble fibers. So soluble fiber is something which would help provide you satiety and avoid binge eating. On the other hand insoluble fiber will bind onto the extra circulating sugars and remove them from the body.
How can they be used?
- Use them in dough or raita.
- Make a cake out it or nutty spreads for your fussy little preschoolers at home.
- These can also be used as an evening snack or tossed over salads
2. CHIA SEEDS
What exactly are chia seeds? Ever thought? They are actually members of the mint family and native to Mexico. They are hydrophilic i.e. they just love water and expand to form a thick gel whenever they encounter a liquid. These energy-boosting seeds have become one of the most powerful super foods in the community. Easy to digest, a versatile ingredient to many recipes, they are highly valued for their medicinal properties and nutritional value.
Let’s peep into the nutritional profile of these seeds:
- Loaded with 20% Omega-3 fatty acids, 37% dietary fiber and 20% protein, it surely acts as a source essential nutrients.
- Even researchers from Mexico have found that the phenolic concentration (antioxidants) speed up skin’s repair system and prevent ageing.
- Being high in dietary fiber, it benefits bowel regularity and balances the insulin
- Absolute munching snack for the obese as it absorbs considerable amount of water and immediately expands in the stomach suppressing your appetite and curbing hunger pangs.
- Just one ounce of chia seeds has 18% of the recommended daily amount of calcium. Make sure you consume enough to maintain bone health.
- These seeds are packed with Calcium, Phosphorus, Vitamin A and Zinc. So it’s no wonder that they are a top food for your teeth heath.
Try adding chia seeds to:
3. PUMPKIN SEEDS
Ever heard of ‘Pepitas?’ May seem small nutty seeds but are they’re packed full of valuable nutrients. Pumpkin seeds—also known as ‘pepitas’ are flat, dark green seeds. Some are encased in a yellow-white husk (often called the shell), and some varieties don’t have a shell. The word ‘pepita’ comes from Mexico, where the Spanish phrase ‘pepita de calabaza’ means ‘little seed of squash.’ Having a malleable, chewy texture and a subtly sweet, nutty flavor, pumpkin seeds are available in all forms —raw, shelled, unshelled and roasted.
Major health benefits of pumpkin seeds that shall make you want them.
- Pumpkin seeds are rich in antioxidants, iron, zinc, magnesium and many other nutrients. An ounce (28 grams) contains about 151 calories.
- They are full of antioxidants that may help protect against disease and reduce inflammation.
- Healthy magnesium levels are important for your heart health, bone health and blood sugar levels and pumpkin seeds are a rich source of magnesium.
- They are also helpful in preventing cancers.
- Whole pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of fiber and hence are associated with health benefits like reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
- The high zinc content of the seeds is helpful in improving fertility in men.
- Pumpkin seeds are a good source of, zinc, magnesium, tryptophan, all of which help to get a good sleep.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Add pumpkin seeds to healthy sautéed vegetables.
- Sprinkle some pumpkin seeds on green salads.
- Grind the seeds with fresh garlic, parsley and cilantro leaves and mix with olive oil, lemon juice for a tasty salad dressing.
- Add chopped pumpkin seeds to your favorite cereal.
- You can add them to your oatmeal raisin cookie or granola recipe.
- Next time you make burgers, whether it be from vegetables, turkey or beef,you may add some pumpkin seeds.
4. SUNFLOWER SEEDS
Have you thought to take care of your hunger and get wealth of nutrition at the same time? You can, by having mild nutty tasting sunflower seeds with their firm but tender texture. Sunflower seeds are the gift of the beautiful sunflower that produces grayish- green or black seeds encased in tear-dropped shaped gray or black shells. Sunflowers are thought to have originated in Mexico and Peru. Also, they are one of the first plants to be cultivated in the United States.
Know their health benefits before you grab them.
- A quarter cup of sunflower seeds contains around 60% of the daily value of vitamin E. This vitamin reduces risk of early death from cardiovascular disease.
- Sunflower seeds contain high level of phytosterols, which have properties similar to cholesterol and hence promote healthy cholesterol levels.
- A quarter cup of these seeds provides one-fourth of the recommended daily value of magnesium. That’s protection for your brain, heart, muscles and more. An added bonus is that it plays an essential role in homeopathic therapies for mental health.
- Selenium has been noted for its ability to encourage DNA repair in damaged cells and is a powerful antioxidant. Sunflower seeds contain selenium that helps to reduce redness and swelling in the body
Serving Ideas that would help you:
- Sprinkle sunflower seeds onto hot and cold cereals.
- Give a unique taste to scrambled egg by adding sunflower seeds.
- You may add sunflower seeds to tuna, chicken or turkey salad.
- Garnish green salads with sunflower seeds.
5. MUSKMELON SEEDS
Muskmelon is one of the popular fruits of the summer season. This fruit is packed with a dozen health benefits. However while relishing this fleshy pastel fruit, have you been throwing away the seeds laden with nutrition? You would be amazed to know that a 100 g serving of muskmelon seeds has approximately 7% carbohydrates,68 2% proteins, and <1% of fats. In addition, these seeds have loads of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, C, E, K, niacin, zinc, magnesium, etc.
Don’t forget to save the seeds for the following benefits:
- Muskmelon seeds are rich in potassium which helps in reducing the blood pressure.
- The high amount of vitamin A and beta carotene in muskmelon seeds help in sharpening eye sight as well as reducing the risk of cataracts.
- Rich in protein, these seeds aids in the growth of body tissues.
- Muskmelon seeds contain vitamin C that helps to strengthen immunity by boosting the production of white blood cells in the blood.
- The amount of folate in these seeds removes excess sodium, thereby, reducing water retention problems in pregnant females.
- The omega-3 fatty acids in seeds take care of the functioning of your heart and prevent various heart diseases.
- These seeds can relieve your stress. Basically, they increase oxygen flow to the brain, which eventually makes the brain tissues calm and stress-free.
- Due to their neutral pH, muskmelon seeds are a blessing for those who often suffer from stomach problems.
- Muskmelon seeds help to fight summer by eliminating excess phlegm from the body and relieving congestion.
You must – use the musk –melon seeds this way:
- You can eat muskmelon seeds raw or you can add them to your salads. Not simply will they boost the health value of the food, but probably add crunchiness and boost the taste, too.
- Snack on the muskmelon seeds whenever you feel like. Wash, dry, and then roast them in the oven or on the gas to make a crispy, healthy snack.
- Muskmelon seeds may be spread on breads and buns.
- Add these seeds in your smoothies and you would surely like the taste and thickness they bring along.
- They are frequently utilized in spicy meat dishes to bring thickness and are ideal for thickening soups and gravies.
- You can also include them to your apple pies and crumbles.
6. WATERMELON SEEDS
Seed spitting contest, anyone? A lot of people opt for seedless. However, the nutritional value of watermelon seeds may convince you otherwise. These seeds are nutrient dense and low in calories and can easily take the place of other unhealthy snack options. Watermelon seeds come from the watermelon plant, by the scientific name Citrullus lanatus. They come in two colors, white and black -immature and fully developed seeds respectively. The black seeds are the ones you should choose to snack on and you can find hundreds in a single watermelon.
Watermelon seeds are loaded with the following benefits:
- Watermelon seeds contain adequate amount of protein and iron which is helpful for your hair health.
- These seeds have abundant fatty acids like oleic acid and linoleum acid, beneficial in making your skin healthy.
- Watermelon is termed as ‘natural Viagra’ due to its sexual urging properties. The presence of arginine amino acid boosts sexual power and
helps to urge sexual desire. The lycopene in the seeds helps in the formation of sperm.
- To control sugar, one must have tea of watermelon seeds. The seeds are effective in lowering down sugar level in blood which is helpful to treat Diabetes type 2.
- Eating these seeds is beneficial for cardiac function and hypertension.
- Watermelon seeds contains niacin, folate, thiamine, patotheinic acid and vitamin B6. They are important for the nervous system, digestive system and beautiful skin.
- Roasted and dried watermelon seeds can be taken as snacks. However, one precaution may be taken that the roasted seeds should be chewed properly.
Watermelon seeds say, “Use me wisely.” Make sure you do.
- Watermelon seeds can be used in salads, fried rice, soups, and sandwiches.
- They are used in making sweets dishes.
- The tea made from watermelon seeds is quite popular and is beneficial for good health.
- They can be used in a lot of bread and cookies.
- Sprouts can be taken after soaking it for few days followed by roasting it in oven.
- Its oil is known as ‘Kalahari oil’ or ‘Ootanga oil’ and is popular in West Africa where people normally use it for cooking.
Seeds give you what you really want; something that you can add to your food, that is nutritious, fills you up, and doesn’t hurt the environment.
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