There are so many so-called superfoods out there to choose from but one category rises above them all for me… these are seeds. The saying good things come in small packages has never been more true than when it comes to seeds. From pumpkin to hemp to chia, seeds offer the triple bonus of protein, fiber, healthy fats all in one little punch!
Seeds are also an amazing source of healthy fats which help support healthy hormones. And they are a great gift for those dealing with nut allergies – it is super easy to replace peanut butter with sunbutter or walnuts with pumpkin seeds. Here are a few of my favorites:
Also known as pepitas, pumpkin seeds are chewy with a subtle nutty flavor. Pumpkin seeds are mineral rich – high in zinc and magnesium and iron, which are especially important for women’s health. A powerhouse of unique anti-oxidants, small studies have shown pumpkin seeds can help reduce risk for reproductive cancers and demonstrated the ability to improve symptoms of BPH (benign prostate enlargement) in men. Toss into your favorite grain before cooking, toasted seeds with spices or sprinkle on salad.
Once associated only with growing “hair” on novelty clay figurines, chia seeds are packed with fiber, protein, omega-3s and key minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Chia seeds are a wonderful friend to digestion with 10 grams of fiber per ounce along with high amounts of prebiotics that help feed beneficial gut bacteria. Their ability to absorb water help reduce hunger, increase insulin sensitivity and maintain satiety as well as create a wonderful gelatinous texture for non-dairy puddings! Add to your favorite smoothie bowl, pancake recipe or enjoy as a healthy chocolate pudding for dessert.
Known for their cheerfulness, the seeds of the sunflower are a wonderful source of fiber, protein and vitamin E along with a number of key minerals. Through their rich Vitamin E content, sunflower seeds are important to boosting cardiovascular health and diminishing inflammation in asthma and arthritis. Some women have found eating sunflower seeds can help decrease the severity and frequency of hot flashes in menopause. Drop into your favorite pesto recipe, blend with pumpkin seeds for a wonderful chicken or fish crust or enjoy by the handful while watching a softball or baseball game!
Native to the Mediterranean, flaxseeds have a warm, earthy flavor. Flaxseeds are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid, an important omega-3 essential fatty acid shown to reduce heart disease and cancer risk, especially breast cancer, and lower cholesterol. They are also high in magnesium, potassium and fiber. Enjoy ground to enhance nutrient absorption. Try adding to your morning smoothie or add to your favorite waffle or muffin recipe.
What is Seed Cycling?
Seeds have incredible benefit for those trying to regulate and support their menstrual cycle. From Day 1 to Day 15 of the menstrual cycle (Day 1 being the day you get your period), enjoy one tablespoon of flaxseeds or pumpkin seeds. These can help build up estrogen and your endometrium (uterine lining).
From Day 16 to Day 30 of your cycle, enjoy one tablespoon each day of both sesame and sunflower seeds. The zinc in sesame seeds and vitamin E in sunflower seeds have been shown to stimulate progesterone production. If you are not on a regular cycle or in menopause, you can still enjoy the benefits by just picking a day one and following the same cycle.
Benefits of this simple practice can include alleviation of many PMS symptoms such as tender breasts and mood swings along with better reproductive health due to a better estrogen balance. And with better progesterone levels, many women report less anxiety, better sleep, fewer menstrual headaches.
How to Enjoy Seeds
In addition to the tips above, seeds can also be enjoyed as seed butters including sunbutter, tahini (sesame butter) and pumpkin seed butter.
The nutritional value of seeds and their digestibility can be enhanced by enjoying sprouted seeds. You can sprout them yourself by placing rinsed seeds in a large galss jar covered with water for 24 hours. Pour out the water, rinse and let the damp sprouts sit outside of direct sunlight. Rinse sprouts twice daily. Seeds sprout after one to three days and can be eaten sprinkled on a salad or blended into a pesto.
Stored seeds with their shells in a cool, dry environment and those that have been shelled in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
Enjoy this recipe for these easy, no-bake cherry oatmeal drops as a delicious, seed-filled treat on the go!
- Kefferputz, Rigo, MD, "Seed Cycling: A Delicious Way to Balance Hormones," retrieved at: https://www.drkefferputz.com/news/seedcycling
- Murray, Michael, ND. (2005) The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.