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Seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients. After all, a seed contains a latent tree. In recent years, a variety of seeds such as flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and the age-old sesame seeds have become popular as superfoods. How do these help improve health and how must you consume them?
Seeds are now easily available in most grocery stores. You may be surprised at how beneficial these little storehouses of nutrients are.
Among the seeds that trigger healthy changes in the human body, chia seeds play a prominent role. The Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) that these seeds contain is responsible for creating omega-3 fatty acid, vitamins, antioxidants and fibre. Chia seeds help ease constipation, control diabetes and reduce excess body weight.
A test was recently undertaken with 76 persons consuming 50 gram of Chia seeds for 12 weeks in a row. At the end of the course, it was found that their blood pressure, blood glucose level, and also their body weight had reduced. A lipid profile test performed thereafter showed that it also helped rid the blood of bad cholesterol and improved the heart condition of the test subjects.
A test was recently undertaken with 76 persons who were made to consume 50 gram of Chia seeds for 12 weeks in row. At the end of the course, it was found that their blood pressure, glucose level in blood and also their body weight had reduced
If you cannot take 50 grams of chia seeds every day, you can make do with 15 grams soaked in warm water and mixed with lemon juice, and you’ll get the benefits of the fibre in the seeds.
Flax seed, called ‘aali vidhai’ in Tamil, is another nutrient-rich addition you can make to your diet. Available at all stores, flax seeds contain antioxidants and fibre content. It is even said to have properties that prevent cancer. Flax seeds need to be powdered before consumption and can be mixed into idli/dosa batter or chapati dough.
Women, in particular, can benefit from consuming flax seeds, as they are said to help prevent uterus and breast cancer. As this seed contains omega-3 fatty acids, it will help the brain and heart function smoothly and efficiently in all individuals. Moreover, it also helps treat diabetes and also improve skin and hair health.
Pumpkin seeds are packed with nutrients as well. Containing fibre content and phytosterols, the seeds improve the level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol informally called good cholesterol in the body.
Sunflower seeds contain protein that can stem the growth of C Reactive Protein, which causes inflammation in the body.
The sesamin from sesame’s fibre content, when consumed directly, goes to intestines and gets converted into enterolactone that helps in the production of estrogen. Estrogen is a must for a woman’s healthy reproductive system and regular problem-free menstruation.
Hemp seeds are another protein-rich food, ideal for vegans, or those who do not consume milk and other dairy products, eggs or meat. Although it is not as popular as the other seeds mentioned, he,p seeds contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that smoothen and strengthen skin, hair and nails. It is a good remedy for those battling hair fall. Hemp seeds can be consumed in powder form or blended with milk non-stop for a week. Its benefits will be felt within a week or two. Really a boon for vegans!
Sesame seeds are a popular ingredient in most south Indian households, mixed in chutney and other dishes. We also have sesame candies. Like other seeds, it also contains omega-3 fatty acids. The sesamin from its fibre content, when consumed directly, goes to the intestines and gets converted into enterolactone that helps in the production of estrogen. Estrogen is a must for a woman’s healthy reproductive system and regular problem-free menstruation.
All these seeds can be lightly roasted and ground into powder. Then every day, 30 gram of the powder can regularly be consumed. There are people who take each of the seeds daily.
Several doctors treating infertility prescribe the rotational use of these seeds. They increase the chances of conception and even help manage arthritis. Addition of these seeds to the regular diet will help you see benefits within three or four months.
(Professor Anitha Madhu is a food scientist teaching at Dhanapal Arts & Science College)
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