We are hearing increasingly more about the health benefits of nature’s super foods – the super seeds. Not surprisingly as they are packed to the hilt with anti-oxidants!
But exactly which ones should you include in your diet? In this article we dive deeper into the health benefits of four of the top super seeds and why you should add them to your diet.
1. Pomegranates – for Anti-Aging
Pomegranates are the fruit of the gods.
A wonder fruit, rich in antioxidants that helps to protect your body’s cells from free radicals, which cause premature aging.
Pomegranate juice pumps the level of oxygen in your blood. The antioxidants fight free radicals and prevent blood clots. This eventually helps the blood to flow freely in your body, in turn improving the oxygen levels in your blood.
Pomegranates are especially high in polyphenols, a form of antioxidant purported to help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. In fact, pomegranate juice, which contains health-boosting tannins, anthocyanins, and ellagic acid, has higher antioxidant activity than green tea and red wine.
The pomegranate, with its edible seeds inside juicy sacs, is high in vitamin C and potassium, low in calories (80 per serving, which is just under one-third of a medium fruit), and a good source of fiber. Pomegranates prevent the hardening of the artery walls with excess fat, leaving your arteries fat-free and pumping with antioxidants.
A study by the University of Naples School of Medicine in Italy has shown that mice that drank pomegranate juice were able to significantly reduce the progression of atherosclerosis by at least 30%
Pomegranate seed health benefits run bone deep; it can reduce the damage to the cartilage for those hit with arthritis. This fruit has the ability to lessen inflammation and fights the enzymes that destroy the cartilage.
Here are some good reasons from Dr. Furhman on why you must include pomegranates in your diet:
- Most powerful anti-oxidant of all fruits
- Potent anti-cancer and immune supporting effects
- Inhibits abnormal platelet aggregation that could cause heart attacks, strokes, and embolic disease
- Lowers cholesterol and other cardiac risk factors
- Lowers blood pressure
- Shown to promote reversal of atherosclerotic plaque in human studies
- May have benefits to relieve or protect against depression and osteoporosis
Many studies show that pomegranate is one of the most powerful, nutrient-dense foods for overall good health. These clinical findings clearly show a correlation between pomegranate compounds and their positive effect on both human and animal cardiovascular, nervous, and skeletal health. This is one fruit that you can’t afford to exclude from your diet!
2. Sunflower Seeds – Help Mitigate the Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E travels throughout the body neutralizing free radicals that would otherwise damage fat-containing structures and molecules, such as cell membranes, brain cells, and cholesterol.
Sunflower seeds are a great source of magnesium. Numerous studies have demonstrated that magnesium helps reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent migraine headaches, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
These seeds are also high in energy; 100 g seeds hold about 584 calories. Most of their calories come from fatty acids. The seeds are especially rich in poly-unsaturated fatty acid linoleic acid, which constitutes more than 50% fatty acids in them. They are also good in mono-unsaturated oleic acid that helps lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good cholesterol” in the blood.
In addition, sunflower seeds contain health benefiting poly-phenol compounds such as chlorogenic acid, quinic acid, and caffeic acids. These compounds are natural anti-oxidants, which help remove harmful oxidant molecules from the body. Further, chlorogenic acid helps reduce blood sugar levels by limiting glycogen breakdown in the liver.
Sunflower seeds are also a good source of selenium, a trace mineral that is of fundamental importance to human health. Accumulated evidence from prospective studies, intervention trials, and studies on animal models of cancer has suggested a strong inverse correlation between selenium intake and cancer incidence.
Selenium has been shown to induce DNA repair and synthesis in damaged cells, inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells, and induce their apoptosis, the self-destruct sequence the body uses to eliminate worn-out or abnormal cells.
The seeds are rich sources of many essential minerals. Calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper are especially concentrated in sunflower seeds. Many of these minerals play a vital role in bone mineralization, red blood cell production, enzyme secretion, hormone production, as well as in the regulation of cardiac and skeletal muscle activities.
3. Cumin Seeds – Rich in Iron and Help with Digestive Disorders
This traditional herb is known for its health benefits and medicinal uses for hundreds of years and is specifically useful in treating digestive disorders and even as an antiseptic. The seeds themselves are rich in iron and help boost the power of the liver.
Cumin juice makes for a great tonic for the body, even if you don’t have a specific ailment. It is said to increase the heat in the body, thus making metabolism more efficient.
Although research is still ongoing, early studies report that cumin, among a number of other spices, can have a powerful effect in preventing diabetes by reducing the chances of hypoglycemia. The animals that were tested showed a sharp decline in hypoglycemia when fed cumin seeds in their diet, and they also showed a decrease in glucosuria, which is a condition where the urine contains too much glucose, also resulting in hypoglycemia and diabetes. Human testing is ongoing, but early reports show that cumin can be a very powerful tool in the battle against diabetes!
Cumin is a stimulant as well as a relaxant at the same time. However, studies show that the proper intake of vitamins (particularly B-complex) and good digestion help to induce sound sleep. Cumin helps in both of these factors. Some of the components of cumin essential oil are hypnotic in nature and have tranquilizing effects, which also help to relieve stress and anxiety that commonly causes insomnia.
Cumin also helps relieve symptoms of the common cold. The presence of caffeine (the stimulating agent), and the richly aromatic essential oils (the disinfectants) make cumin an ideal anti congestive combination for those suffering from respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis. It acts as an expectorant, meaning that it loosens up the accumulated phlegm and mucus in the respiratory tracts and makes it easier to eliminate them from the system via sneezing or coughing up, and spitting. If you have a sore throat, try adding some dry ginger to cumin water, to help soothe it.
Cumin is also carminative, which means that it relieves you from gas troubles and thereby improves digestion and appetite. Due to its essential oils, magnesium, and sodium content, cumin promotes digestion and also gives relief for stomachaches when taken with hot water.
It is also considered to be a powerful kidney and liver herb which can help boost the immune system.
4. Pumpkin Seeds – Healthy Source of Energy
This light and nutty seed are high in iron, a mineral that helps maintain high energy levels. Pumpkin seeds are alkaline-forming, which is very important in today’s world of highly acidic diets.
Add pumpkin seeds to your list of foods rich in protein. 100 grams of seeds on a daily basis provide 54 percent of the daily requirement in terms of protein.
According to t0 Dr.Mercola pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc (one ounce contains more than 2 mg of this beneficial mineral). Zinc is important to your body in many ways, including immunity, cell growth, and division, sleep, mood, senses of taste and smell, eye and skin health, insulin regulation, and male sexual function.
Many are deficient in zinc due to mineral-depleted soils, drug effects, plant-based diets, and other diets high in grain. This deficiency is associated with increased colds and flu, chronic fatigue, depression, acne, low birth weight babies, learning problems, and poor school performance in children, among others.
He also says pumpkin seeds have long been valued as an important natural food for men’s health. “This is in part because of their high zinc content, which is important for prostate health (where it is found in the highest concentrations in the body), and also because pumpkin seed extracts and oils may play a role in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate). Research suggests that both pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds2 may be particularly beneficial in supporting prostate health”
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of vitamin B like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. They are helpful in supporting treatments for depression. The chemical component L-tryptophan is the secret ingredient to boost your mood.
Not only are seeds super healthy for you, but they are also great to eat. However, remember there’s only one way to derive the best nutrition from seeds and that is to eat them raw and also as part of a healthy, balanced diet!
Compiled by Mila Black, health writer, for Longevity magazine.