Welcome to part 2 of our look into super seeds, nature’s little nutritional powerhouses. If you’ve only just joined us, have a read of part 1, but for those looking for more seed inspiration, let’s carry on…
Sunflower seeds, like pumpkin seeds, pecans, sesame seeds, watercress, and spinach, are some of the best plant sources of zinc. This crucial mineral functions in over 200 enzyme systems involved in metabolism and digestion. Zinc is needed for cell growth and repair and collagen production, hence its role in hair and skin health, where it works closely with sulphur and vitamin A. It also plays a vital role in immune function, helping the body to produce white blood cells.
Sprouting your seeds
For those of you are a little unsure of “sprouting” seeds, but would like to have a go… begin with sunflower seeds! They are the easiest and fastest seed to sprout. Use organic, hulled sunflower seeds, soak them for 4-5 hours in cold filtered water, rinse and spread out onto a seed tray, or damp kitchen paper. Sprouts, or shoots will begin to come through in 12-18 hours, which is the time to “harvest” them.
Rinse, pat them dry and place them in a tub in the fridge. Ideally, they need to be consumed in 1-2 days after sprouting. Once they’ve sprouted they taste sweet and nutty, and make a delicious addition to meals, or simply eaten with some fresh fruit. Sprouted seeds boost the enzyme and nutrient content of colourful salads, fresh fruit breakfasts, or vegetable-based pates, such as my “Pea and Sunflower Pâté” below.
Pea and Sunflower Pâté
This is an amazing recipe using sunflower seeds and garden peas. I’ve also found it’s a great way to use the wild garlic that grows in my garden!
Makes a big bowl!
- 300g shelled garden peas (can use frozen if fresh is not available)
- 70g soaked sunflower seeds (sprouted if you like)
- Juice of half a lemon
- 4-5 torn fresh mint leaves
- A lemon thyme sprig – leaves removed (optional)
- 1 raw garlic clove, crushed and chopped
- A splash or Tamari OR ¼ tsp of sea salt or rock salt
Put all the ingredients into a food processor, and gradually mix or blend together. Scrape down the sides of the processor, mix again and then turn out the Pâté into a bowl.
- Serve as a starter dip with raw vegetable crudités such as cucumber, carrot, courgette and cherry tomatoes
- Spread thickly on a couple of oatcakes for a quick snack
- Place a large serving spoonful in the centre of a main course salad
- Blend with water, and gently warm to make a soup
Flaxseeds are slightly bigger than sesame seeds that we often see scattered over breads or cereal bars. Flaxseeds also have a "sheen" to their coating, unlike the dry look of sesame seeds. Regarding their nutritional value, flaxseeds are an excellent source of Omega-3 fats, whilst sesame seeds are predominantly omega-6 rich – so don’t confuse the two! Both Omega-6 fats and Omega-3 fats are essential, and the key to a healthy body and healthy metabolism is achieving the correct balance.
Most people tend to have an abundant amount of Omega-6 fats in the diet, and not enough Omega-3. Omega-6 fatty acids “switch on” inflammation, which is a necessary immune response, whilst Omega-3 “switch off”, or dampen down the inflammatory responses.
Most people exist in an “inflamed state” and hence develop health problems that are associated with systemic or low-grade “inflammation” – namely heart disease, arthritis, obesity or weight gain, and diabetes. The key to regaining health in so many situations is by getting more Omega-3 fats in the diet.
Golden flax (one of two common varieties) is higher in Omega-3, and in soluble fibre too, which is largely why it’s the preferred choice for most people. Brown flax (the other variety) is mainly used for industrial reasons, so don’t buy brown flaxseeds!
Flaxseeds have a hard shell-like coating, and therefore need to be ground before consumption. This is to ensure they are fully digestible in the gut, so that we can truly benefit from their natural oils, lignans (phytoestrogen substances) and minerals. Two tablespoons (30g) of flaxseeds provide a very healthy and balanced 95 calories from protein, carbohydrate and “healthy” fat.
This amount provides over the daily estimated requirement for Omega-3, along with plenty of B6, folate, fibre, magnesium and manganese. Whilst flaxseed oil is a more concentrated source of Omega 3, the oil does not contain fibre, and significantly fewer minerals and other substances found in the seeds. The oil incidentally is much fresher in freshly ground seeds than in extracted oil, so ground is the preferred, and recommended way to consume flaxseeds.
Sea vegetables also contain lignans, and other types or classes of phytoestrogens are present in soya beans, vegetables such as fennel, and broccoli, and also red grapes.
Flaxseeds and colon health
Ground flaxseed meal provides an exceptionally healthy amount of soluble fibre – the type of fibre so often lacking in modern-day diets. Flaxseeds are the ideal food to keep the colon healthy, disease-free, and “moving” regularly! A couple of tablespoons of ground flaxseeds taken with plenty of water is one the best remedies for constipation. With chronic cases of congested or blocked colons, it is often best to soak 2 tablespoons of ground flax in a large glass of water, and then drinking the “flax water” before bed. The seed flour can then be added to breakfast the next day, or to a breakfast smoothie.
Aside from being a wonderful remedy for constipation, flaxseed fibre also helps to control blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.
So there you go! Now you know all about some great seed varieties to go for. You can’t really go wrong as they are all nutritional wonders, but hopefully you’ll now find it easy to incorporate them into your everyday diets and feel fantastic!