Seeds are a great high protein option to add to the diet with generally less fat than nuts. The fats they do contain however include the very heart healthy alpha linoleic acid precursors to omega 3.
Chia seeds and flax seeds (linseeds) both absorb a lot of liquid and are extremely good for the digestive system, having great laxative properties. Chia seeds bulk up to 10 times their weight in water. They contain twice the fibre and protein as an equivalent weight of flaxseeds but they are also much more expensive than flaxseeds. Chia seeds contain approximately 20% protein are also great sources of potassium, calcium and magnesium. Both contain approximately 2g omega 3’s per tablespoon. Chia seeds are great for dieters and can be used as a very efficient weight loss tool as they gel so much and are therefore very filling. Both the gelling action of the seed, and it’s unique combination of soluble and insoluble fibre combine to slow down the bodies conversion of starches into sugars. If you eat chia seeds within a meal, it will help you turn your food into a constant, steady energy source which balances blood sugar levels really well.
They are both added to baked goods and puddings for their setting properties. Flax seeds are often ground up and are better ground up in order to access their health promoting properties. I have also come across a sprouted flaxseed product called linusit. It’s an organic sprouted flax powder which is a rich source of essential fatty acids, active enzymes and fibre. This product is made by Granovita and available in Health shops and I tend to add it to my home made museli. It has better absorption of nutrients than plain flaxseed but is also more expensive. Often flaxseeds will be sold as linseed – they are both the same thing! The quantity of soluble fibre in both seeds also helps with the removal of toxins from the bowel preventing such conditions as diverticulitis.
Seeds have hard shells which generally contain enzyme inhibitors. To access the health promoting benefits they are best to be soaked. Also as some seeds e.g. chia has a huge capacity from taking up water it is not good to eat them dry as water from the bowel could technically be used to hydrate the seeds and potentially if the person does not drink much water they could end up being more constipated! Therefore, if using flax or chia seeds then soak them.
Hemp seeds are very high in protein – double that of chia and four times that of normal linseed (though only double that of sprouted linseed). They contain approximately 45% protein, containing 20 amino acids including 9 of the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce by itself. Hemp seeds also contain plenty of phosphorus and magnesium and also a good ratio of omega 6 to omega 3. They can be eaten raw or toasted.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, flax seed oil has shown promise in treating osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, anxiety, benign prostatic hyperplasia, atherosclerosis and diabetes, as well as lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. Flax seed oil also relieves constipation and skin irritations due to dry skin.