Are you as confused as I am regarding “seeds”? What type should you eat? What are the benefits? Do you eat them whole or ground? How do you store them?
I did some quick research to find out some of the claimed health benefits of flax, hemp and chia seeds. I hope that this helps alleviate a bit of the confusion. I know that it did for me!
One of the things that all three seeds have in common is that they are all rich in essential fatty acids like Omega 3. So if you want to keep your heart healthy and lower cholesterol levels, you should try to consume a lot of any one of these seeds.
Other than this, all three seeds tend to have slight differences in storage and health benefits.
Flax seeds come from the flax plant and come in two varieties: brown and yellow. They both have very similar nutritional benefits.
Flax contains 8 grams of fiber per one tablespoon. Most of us do not get enough fiber in our diets. Eating fiber helps regulate your bowels and helps to keep bloating at bay.
Flax reduces the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men because flax contains lignans. Lignans alter the way your body metabolizes estrogens into safer forms.
Storage: Ensure that you purchase flax seeds in the pre-ground variety as the whole seeds don’t break down when you eat them. You can also purchase them as whole seeds and grind them yourself easily in a coffee grinder. This will be a more cost-effective method. Whole seeds can stay fresh for up to a year. They should be stored in a cool dry place. If you do buy the ground version, it should be stored in your freezer.
Hemp seeds are produced by the hemp plant.
Hemp seeds contain high amounts of protein, which helps in strengthening the immune system. This reduces the instances of disease and helps excrete toxins from the body.
Hemp produces phytosterols, which helps reduce cholesterol.
Hemp contains all 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) our bodies cannot produce.
Hemp seeds are very rarely allergens, unlike many other nuts and seeds.
Storage: Hemp can come in the form of seeds, oil or meal. Unlike flaxseeds, you don’t need to grind them to reap their benefits. Unfortunately, the down side of hemp is that the seeds can quickly go bad and so are best kept cool and used quickly. One other thing to note is that you shouldn’t heat or cook the seeds as it will destroy the nutritional benefits of the fatty acids. So it is best to add hemp seeds to foods that do not require cooking or sprinkle on after cooking.
Chia Seeds are derived from the flowering annual herb in the mint family.
Chia seeds contain many antioxidants and are a complete protein. They balance your blood sugar and give you steady, long lasting energy.
Chia seeds are also a great source of fiber and have both soluble and insoluble fibers.
Chia seeds are high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and protein. All of these nutrients are essential for bone health.
They can also be helpful in losing weight as the gel that is formed around the seed has no calories and makes you feel full.
Storage: Chia seeds easily store for 2 – 4 years without refrigeration, and even longer if refrigerated. They only require a dry, cool location. Even chia meal still has a long shelf life of 1 – 2 years. All 3 varieties of these seeds tend to be readily available at local grocers or health food stores. What is nice is that you can add these seeds to pretty much anything – salads, yogurt, and smoothies.
If you decide to add one (or many) of these tiny gems into your diet, I am confident that it will benefit your health. Remember though that this is just my opinion based on my own research. If you are on medication, definitely consult your health professional to ensure that the seeds won’t interfere with your medication. If you would like more information on any of these seeds, I would urge you to do some research of your own or consult a nutritionist or alike. Remember that you are only given one body and likely the only one looking out for your own health. So make sure you respect your body and treat it as best as you can.