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Flax

The Truth About 6 “Superfood” Seeds

When it comes to nutrition-dense superfoods, seeds are having a bit of a moment. But do they deserve their health halo? “There is an obsession with healthy fats, protein and fiber—it’s like the trinity—and seeds have all three,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian in Chicago, Illinois. Of course, shortly behind every health food trend are enterprising food companies quick to sell you packaged foods that contain them—making it tough to tell what’s truly good for you and what isn’t.

Here’s a quick primer on six seeds that will help you separate the hype from truth:

Chia

What’s good: Chia’s evolution from punch line to power food has finally earned the tiny seeds some respect. Packed with 10g of fiber and nearly 5g of protein per ounce (just under 3 tablespoons), the seeds — which come from a plant in the mint family — can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water, making for a fun addition to everything from puddings (think tapioca without all the sugar) to pancakes. Chefs at the Cleveland Clinic even add the seeds to meatballs for extra bulk and flavor, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian at the Ohio hospital. Sold both in big bags and small, single-serve packets for mixing into smoothies, the seeds are also a good source of calcium, Omega-3 fatty acids and phosphorous.

What’s not: Assertions that this ancient seed can lower blood pressure and make you lose weight have not been proven. Chia doesn’t come cheap either: At $12.99 a pound at my local market, it costs more than twice as much as most other seeds.

Hemp

What’s good: Hemp is a variety of cannabis plant, but the only high these seeds will give you is a nutritional one. They’ve got more protein (about 10g per ounce) than any other seed we can think of, making them a great alternative to animal protein. “For adding protein to a smoothie, I am going to go for hemp seeds,” says Blatner. And because protein takes longer to digest than carbs, they may help you feel full longer. Bonus: Each ounce contains three-quarters of the daily recommended Vitamin E and nearly a third of the recommended zinc to help boost your immune system.

What’s not: Search on “cannabis cures cancer” and you’ll find a large and ardent contingent who believe that cannabis, particularly in its oil form, is a magic elixir. Not only is this claim not proven by scientific studies, but the cannabis oil promoted is not the same as the oil made from hemp seeds, which is commonly found in health stores.

Flax

What’s good: An ounce of these slightly nutty seeds contains nearly 8g of fiber along, 12g of fatty acids, and more than a quarter of your daily recommended magnesium, which helps boost energy. The fiber helps with digestion, and there’s also some evidence that flax seeds can lower high blood pressure and cholesterol. Available in either brown or golden varieties, both are equally nutritious.

What’s not: Unlike other seeds, just sprinkling a handful of these bad boys on your yogurt won’t yield their full benefits. As Blatner notes: “Flax seed is best in its ground form so we can get the nutrients out of its shell.” Due to flax seeds’ high oil content, you should refrigerate ground seeds (as well as flaxseed oil).

Pumpkin

What’s good: For a tasty snack you can enjoy a la carte, roasted pumpkin seeds – also known as pepitas – are the hands-down winner. But where pumpkin seeds really shine is in the kitchen: found in everything from pesto to pipian verde, they’re one of the most versatile seeds you can buy. The green seeds are high in fat (14g per ounce) and relatively low in fiber (2g), but make up for it with nearly 10g of protein and a slew of minerals, including half or more of the daily recommended doses of copper, magnesium, manganese and phosphorous. They’re also a close second to hemp when it comes to zinc. Pumpkin seed oil has also been shown to relieve symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate – a common condition for men over 50.

What’s not: Pepitas are so delicious that it’s tempting to eating too many. Kirkpatrick, RD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute recommends no more than a handful a day, which contains about 160 calories. If you’re worried about your salt intake, consider buying a mix of salted and unsalted pepitas, then mix them together – and enjoy!

Sesame

What’s good: “They’re kind of overlooked because people don’t know what to do with them,” says Kirkpatrick, “but they’re high in zinc, which helps immune health.” Per ounce, the seeds, which are also known as benne seeds, have 5g of protein, 4g of fiber and contain more than a third of the recommended copper (which we need for energy and collagen production) and manganese (which supports bone health). They’re also a good source of calcium, magnesium and iron.

What’s not: Although seed allergies are fairly rare overall, sesame seed allergies in particular are on the rise, with an estimated 0.2% of the population (about half of those who are allergic to cow’s milk) affected in areas where the seeds are available. Chances are you and your kids will be fine, but use caution when introducing the seeds to those who have never tried them.

Power seeds
ANTIOXIDANTS We can’t forget the antioxidants. Oxidative stress may be one thing that is on your mind? Maybe not, but it should be. Stress (we would call it an epidemic) is toxic, yes TOXIC to your body. The best way to fight it is to become friends with stress because it’s not something that is just going to go away easily. The next step is incorporate as many antioxidants into your body as possible. Chia seeds are just the answer!

Seed Benefits

Add a super-charged spoonful of Power Blend to every meal!

Use Power of 3 Nutrition’s PowerBlends to boost every meal with a perfect blend of seeds. Sprinkle PowerBlend on everyday foods to get vital energy and focus into your day. Nothing’s processed, nothing’s artificial, and our blend contains 3x more fiber and protein than flaxseed alone.

FLAX SEEDS

We use golden organic cold milled flax seeds. They have so many benefits we couldn’t leave them out of the blend. Because of their high levels of fiber, 7 different lignans and plant based Omega 3s, flax seeds can help with: improved digestion; clearer skin; and lowering cholesterol. The high fiber can help reduce sugar cravings and decrease the glycemic hit when combined with many high carb foods. Lignans can balance hormones and have been shown to fight cancer; the fullness factor and satisfaction from eating flax seeds can promote weight loss too.

WHAT ARE LIGNANS? Lignans are unique fiber-related polyphenols (micro nutrients) that provide us with antioxidant benefits for anti-aging, hormone balance and cellular health. Polyphenols support the growth of probiotics in the gut and may also help control overgrowths of yeast and candida in the body. Lignans are also known for their anti-viral and antibacterial properties, and consuming flax regularly may help reduce the number or severity of colds and flus.

RAW PUMPKIN SEEDS (PEPITAS)

In addition to the fact raw pumpkin seeds are deliciously rich in flavor, studies have shown raw pumpkins seeds to support: diabetes by its insulin regulating properties; antimicrobial and antifungal benefits for gut and cellular health; therapeutic oxidative stress reduction through their rich antioxidant spectrum.

While antioxidant nutrients are found in most whole foods, it’s the broad range of antioxidants in pumpkin seeds that sets them apart from other seeds and why we chose to showcase them in our PowerBlends. Pumpkin seeds contain the antioxidant Vitamin E in a wider variety of forms and more abundantly than most seeds. Alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, delta- tocopherol, gamma-tocomonoenol & alpha-tocomonoenol, and are all forms of vitamin E found in pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds also have abundant mineral support; high in phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, and copper and a good source of the minerals zinc and iron.

CHIA SEEDS

These seeds have been in the health industustry’s spotlight for years with increasing popularity because of the many benefits their consumers are experiencing. Studies have shown the following benefits of having Chia in your diet: increased fiber Intake; increased levels of Omega-3 vs. Omega-6; lower blood pressure; improved blood sugar control.

We chose chia seeds to be in the blends because they are so rich in fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They also have essential proteins that compliment the amino acids in hemp seeds perfectly. Chia seeds contain 18 of the 22 amino acids, including all nine essential amino acids: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, and histamine. When combined chia and hemp seeds make a complete and perfect amino acid food.

OMEGA 3s Chia seeds hail to be one of the best sources of plant based omega-3 fatty acids. Because of this they promote a lower ratio of omega-6’s to omega-3s in the diet. So many of the typical American diets are so abundant in processed foods they very often disrupt the natural omega balance in the body. Omega 6’s are important in the diet, however, they should be consumed in a non-processed, whole food form. Processed oils that contain Omega 6s can be too overwhelming for the system and can result in excess inflammation for the body – as most of us know, science is now discovering a litany of health issues attributed to increased inflammation.

FIBER We’ve all heard fiber is good for us. It really is, for most of us. Another reason we chose chia seeds is their high fiber content. 95% of the fibers are Insoluble. Insoluble fibers have been associated with blood sugar stabilization and heart health. Our gut is the seat of our health, insoluble fiber is a vital component of gut health and the prebiotic effect it has on the microflora in our intestines (see blog on gut health).

ANTIOXIDANTS We can’t forget the antioxidants. Oxidative stress may be one thing that is on your mind? Maybe not, but it should be. Stress (we would call it an epidemic) is toxic, yes TOXIC to your body. The best way to fight it is to become friends with stress because it’s not something that is just going to go away easily. The next step is incorporate as many antioxidants into your body as possible. Chia seeds are just the answer!

MINERALS – We know we are supposed to have minerals in our diet, but why? It’s kind of off the radar for most of us. Here are a list of the minerals chia seeds have in abundance. Each of these minerals plays a different and synergistic role with the others in our body. We NEED them to give our system a fighting chance against the viruses, bad bacterias, and all the environmental stresses we are exposed to each day.

  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus

Lesser but still substantial amounts of:

  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and
  • Vitamin B2.
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

HEMP SEEDS

The part of the seed we use is called the hemp heart. It has a delicious and rich nutty flavor. For optimal nutrient potency we make small batches and order the seeds freshly hulled each time we batch. This is a much more expensive way to do it, but it stays true with our mission to provide only fresh amazingly power food to fuel you. We chose to add the super nutritious hemp heart to the blend because of their unique amino acid profile and perfect Omega 3 to Omega 6 balance. The Proteins (amino acids) in the hemp heart are methionine and cysteine, as well as very high levels of arginine and glutamic acid. Why are these amino acids so important?