A certain group of seeds have been highly valued in recent times and incorporated as a novelty in the diet of many people. However, they are not new products: many people and cultures have been consuming them for centuries.
In recent years, these seeds have returned to have the same level of relevance that was given in ancient times, in order for people to have a healthy and natural diet.
This is because many of them have numerous properties, which make them concentrated sources of nutrients, among them we can find chia seeds, cannabis seeds, flax seeds, grapes, quinoa and other seeds, in fact, have been a central element in the eating habits of many people around the world for centuries.
Are seeds considered superfoods?
There is a general idea that modern western eating patterns have put them aside, without taking into account that such common products as rice, corn, wheat and legumes are also seeds. The fact is that many others have been revalued, to the point that, some time ago, some began to be known as «superfoods«.
Beyond these debates, and with enough care not to attribute to seeds -or any other product- pseudoscientific or «magical» characteristics, it is worth taking into account the proven properties of many seeds and the nutritional contribution they represent when they’re present on our daily diet.
Among the most nutritious and beneficial seeds to health we can mention the following ones:
Undoubtedly, these chia seeds have taken the center stage and have been better valued in recent years.
Originally from Mexico and Central America, they were used by the Mayans and other cultures of the region for uses as diverse as those ranging from flour to infusions.
They are rich in omega 3, a fat which is considered healthy for brain and heart functions (although a recent review has cast doubt on the cardiac risk prevention capabilities that were attributed to it until now).
They also include protein and antioxidants. The main source of omega 3 is fish: species such as salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies. Those who practice vegetarianism or other habits that exclude the consumption of meat highlight the possibilities of chia and other plant products to provide omega 3.
However, it must be taken into account that Chia is found in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body must process to convert into essential nutrients: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
The degree of efficiency of this conversion is only 10%, due to which, although the Omega 3 figures seem much higher in chia than in fish such as salmon, in the end the yield is higher.
Hemp, particularly its seeds, are healthy because they contain essential components for the human body, such as amino acids, and polyunsaturated fat, which help maintain high vitality.
It is difficult to find in nature another plant with similar characteristics to this one, having a good amount of proteins and essential oils that are easily absorbed and digested. These seeds help to boost the immune system, also by giving extra vitality.
Cannabis seeds, including the varieties that are grown either for recreational or medicinal purposes, have in their components, more necessary fatty acids than other seeds of any other plant.
These components are essential for the immune system, improving protection against the attack of bacteria, viruses and other dangerous elements for the human body, which interrupt the cell growth process.
Hemp seed oils contain only 8% saturated fat, a particularly low amount, which is something very positive, since it is precisely the excessive and continuous consumption of these fats that causes cardiovascular diseases.
The squeezed hemp seed oil contains 55% linoleic acid and 25% linolenic acid, acids responsible for transforming food into vital energy and distributing it throughout the body. In its content percentage, only the oil from flaxseed contains more linoleic acid by approximately 58%.
Flax seeds are known as linseed. Like chia, they are a good source of omega 3 (ALA), as well as protein and plant fiber. They include antioxidants called lignans, which contribute to good heart health.
In addition, a study by scientists at the University of Copenhagen determined that a small dose of flax seeds has a significant effect on reducing appetite and energy consumption, as a result, it might help you to lose weight.
As is also the case with chia seeds, flax seeds should be ground before consuming them: otherwise, they could «pass by» through the intestinal tract, without being digested and, therefore, without taking advantage of its benefits.
You can also consume flax mucilage, the viscous substance that is obtained after leaving flaxseed to soak for a few hours. In this way, other capacities of this seed are «activated», such as reducing the risk of heartburn and suffering from constipation.
The properties of grape seeds can be good news on certain occasions. So these seeds contain amounts of vitamin E, polyphenols, linoleic acid and flavonoids. The grape seed extract, according to several studies, contributes to the prevention of coronary problems, such as hypertension and cholesterol.
Quinoa is an ancient food: it has been consumed by the Andean peoples of present-day Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Bolivia for five millennia.
It was recognized by the UN, a body that through the Food and Agriculture Organization determined that 2013 was the International Year of Quinoa.
Its value is not only given by its high nutritional capacities, but also by the adaptability of its cultivation in different types of soil.
Among the nutrients it provides, we can find phosphorus, magnesium and iron, as well as minerals, fibers, unsaturated fats and proteins of high biological value (that is, those that the human body cannot produce on its own from other elements) which makes them essential.
What can we conclude
The history of these seeds that our ancestors used wisely in their time, has been used in recent years, even by doctors to treat various ailments that usually affect many people. As indicated in the content of the article, it does not mean that these seeds are magical elements that will heal or feed and cover the needs of minerals, proteins and other chemical components necessary for the proper functioning of the human body, they are natural products that can be used without major side effects, if you know how to use or apply correctly according to the requirements of each case.