6 Super Healthy Seeds You Should Be eating to lower Cholesterol
Seeds contain all the ingredients needed to develop into complex plants. That’s why they are extremely nutritious.
Seeds are a rich source of fiber. They also contain healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, as well as many important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Consuming seeds as part of a healthy diet can help lower blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.
This article discusses the nutritional and health benefits of six of the healthiest seeds you can eat.
Flaxseed, also known as linseed, is a rich source of dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, especially alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
However, omega-3 fatty acids are found in the fibrous shell of the seeds and are not easily digested by humans.
Therefore, if you want to increase your omega-3s, it is best to take ground flaxseed.
- One ounce (28 grams) of flaxseed contains a variety of nutrients.
- Calories: 152
- Fiber: 7.8 grams
- Protein: 5.2 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 2.1 grams
- Omega-3: 6.5 grams
- Omega-6: 1.7 grams
- Manganese: 35% of RDI
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 31% of RDI
- Magnesium: 28% of RDI
Flaxseed contains a variety of polyphenols, especially lignans, which play an important antioxidant role in the human body.
Lignans, along with the fiber and omega-3 fats found in flaxseed, can help lower cholesterol and risk factors for heart disease.
A large study, combined with the results of 28 other people, found that eating flaxseed lowered “bad” LDL cholesterol by an average of 10 mmol/l.
Flaxseed can also lower blood pressure An analysis of 11 studies found that flaxseed can lower blood pressure, especially when eaten whole daily for 12 weeks or more.
Several studies have shown that flaxseed consumption can lower tumor growth markers in women with breast cancer.
This may be due to the lignans found in flaxseed. Lignans are a type of phytoestrogen, similar to the female hormone estrogen.
It has a similar effect on prostate cancer in men.
In addition to reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer, flaxseeds may also reduce the risk of diabetes because they help lower blood sugar levels.
- Chia seeds
Chia seeds are similar to flax seeds in that they contain fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and many other nutrients.
One ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contains
- Calories: 137
- Fiber: 10.6 grams
- Protein: 4.4 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 0.6 grams
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 4.9 grams
- Omega-6: 1.6 g
- Thiamin (vitamin B1): 15 percent of RDI
- Magnesium: 30% of RDI
- Manganese: 30% of RDI
Like flaxseed, chia seeds contain significant amounts of important polyphenolic antioxidants.
Interestingly, studies have shown that consuming chia seeds increases ALA in the blood; ALA is an important omega-3 fatty acid that has been shown to reduce inflammation.
Your body can convert ALA into other omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish. However, this conversion process in the body is generally very inefficient.
According to one study, chia seeds may be able to increase blood levels of EPA.
Chia seeds may also help lower blood sugar levels. Several studies have shown that whole, ground chia seeds are equally effective at lowering blood sugar levels after meals.
Another study found that in addition to lowering blood sugar levels, chia seeds can also help suppress appetite.
Chia seeds may also reduce risk factors for heart disease.
A study of 20 patients with type 2 diabetes found that consuming 37 grams of chia seeds daily for 12 weeks lowered blood pressure and reduced levels of several inflammatory chemicals, including C-reactive protein (CRP).
- Hemp seeds
Hemp seed is an excellent source of plant-based protein. In fact, it contains more than 30% protein and many other essential nutrients.
Hemp seeds are one of the few plants that are a complete source of protein, containing all the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce.
Studies have also shown that the quality of hemp seed protein is superior to most other plant sources of protein.
One ounce (28 grams) of hemp seeds contains hemp seed protein.
- Calories: 155
- Fiber: 1.1 grams
- Protein: 8.8 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 0.6 grams
- Polyunsaturated fats: 10.7 grams
- Magnesium: 45% of RDI
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 31% of RDI
- Zinc: 21% of RDI
The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in hemp oil is about 3:1, which is considered a good ratio. Hemp seeds also contain gamma-linolenic acid, an important fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory properties.
This is why so many people take hemp oil supplements.
Hemp seed oil is good for heart health by increasing the level of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood.
The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids can also improve the symptoms of eczema.
One study found that eczema patients who took hemp oil supplements for 20 weeks had less dry and irritated skin. They also used less skin medication on average.
- Sesame seeds
Sesame seeds are common in Asia, but in the West, they are eaten as a paste called tahini.
Like other seeds, it has a wide range of nutritional values, and 1 ounce (28 grams) contains sesame seeds.
- Calories: 160
- Fiber: 3.3 grams
- Protein: 5 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 5.3 grams
- Omega 6: 6 grams
- Copper: 57% of RDI
- Manganese: 34% of RDI
- Magnesium: 25% of RDI
Like flaxseed, sesame seeds contain high amounts of a lignin called sesamin. In fact, sesame seeds are the best known dietary source of lignans.
Interesting studies have shown that the sesquiterpenes in sesame seeds are converted by bacteria in the gut into another type of lignin called enterolactone.
Enterolactone can act like the sex hormone estrogen, and lower than normal levels of this lignan in the body have been linked to heart disease and breast cancer.
Another study found that postmenopausal women who ate 50 grams of sesame seed powder daily for five weeks had significantly lower blood cholesterol levels and better sex hormone status.
Sesame seeds also reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which can exacerbate the symptoms of many diseases, including arthritis.
One study showed that patients with knee osteoarthritis who ate about 40 grams of sesame seed powder daily for two months had a significant reduction in inflammatory chemicals in their blood.
In another recent study, semi-professional athletes who ate about 40 grams of sesame seed powder daily for 28 days showed a significant reduction in muscle damage and oxidative stress, as well as an increase in aerobic capacity.
Seeds are an excellent source of healthy fats, plant protein, fiber and antioxidant polyphenols.
In addition, they may help reduce the risk of certain diseases. In particular, the lignans in seeds may help reduce the risk of cholesterol and cancer.
Seeds are very easy to add to salads, yogurt, oatmeal and smoothies, making it easy to incorporate healthy nutrients into your diet.