Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to completely overhaul your diet to become healthier, as doing a few food swaps or making some additions can be all it takes to reduce blood sugar, lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol, lose fat, and feel better.
Seeds have long been extolled as the ultimate product to buy from superfood suppliers, but which are the best for their health benefits?
- Chia seeds
Chia seeds can be sprinkled in smoothies or porridge, on top of fruit and yoghurt, in soups, in stewed strawberries to make jam, or even mixed with milk for a thick, delicious chia pudding of its own.
They are as beneficial as they are versatile, being high in iron, folate, calcium, zinc, antioxidants, magnesium, omega-3 fats, protein, omega-6 fats, and fibre.
Simply by adding a tablespoon of chia seeds to a meal, you could lower blood sugar, reduce appetite, cut the risk of heart disease, and benefit from consuming protein and fibre.
These are very similar to chia seeds, as they stabilise blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and are a good source of omega-3 fats and protein.
Flaxseeds, sometimes known as linseeds, are also incredibly popular for their high fibre content (7.8g per 28g serving), helping to regulate the bowel and relieve constipation.
According to Saga, menopausal women also find them beneficial as they contain lignans, which balances hormonal symptoms like hot flushes.
Like chia seeds, these can be added to soups, muffins, smoothies, porridge, overnight oats, cereal, or granola. Vegans can also use them to create an egg substitute by adding 2.5 tablespoons of warm water to one tablespoon of ground flaxseed and letting it rest for five minutes to thicken. This ‘flax egg’ can then be used in replace of one egg in baking recipes.
- Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are particularly beneficial to older people, as they are known to reduce inflammation and cholesterol, cutting the risk of developing heart disease.
According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, a diet rich in sunflower seeds resulted in a reduction of cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes.
The United States Department of Agriculture also claims sunflower seeds are the “richest source of vitamin E”, which boosts the immune system and results in healthy hair, nails and skin, On Health reports.
It is easy to include sunflower seeds in your diet, whether you add them as a topping to salads or cereal, bake them into bread or muffins, or eat them on their own as a snack.
- Hemp seeds
Vegetarians are big fans of hemp seeds, as they are an excellent source of protein, containing 8.8g per 28g serving. They are also full of fibre, omega-6 and omega-3 fats, magnesium, zinc and vitamin B1.
They are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, improving chronic inflammatory conditions such as eczema. Hemp seeds also boost heart health thanks to their polyunsaturated fats, and are rich in soluble fibre.
Hemp seeds are excellent baked in cakes and flapjacks, or when made into milk as an alternative to dairy products.
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