The Most Valuable Seeds in The World – eCellulitis

The Most Valuable Seeds In The World – What Do We Really Know About Their Health Benefits?
The Most Valuable Seeds In The World – What Do We Really Know About Their Health Benefits?

What Are Flax Seeds?

In ancient Mesopotamia, flax seeds were grown for their nutritional value. These seeds, also known as linseed, have valuable oils that even today attract the attention of many nutritionists.

They are from Linaceae family, botanically known as Linum usitatissimum. This annual plant grows in both tropical and subtropical climates. It can reach up to 1.5 meters tall, and when it flourishes, one can see little blue flowers that are very attractive. The plant contains brown or golden yellow seeds. There are two types of cultivars; one is grown for its oil seeds and the other for its fiber.

What you must know is that flax seeds are very high in calories; 100 grams of seeds contain 543 calories. Although one must keep in minds this fact, seeds are, on the other hand, great source of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and other health-benefiting compounds.

One of the most important compounds is oleic acid. Apart from this acid, there are other omega- 3 essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid, apha-linoleic acid, and arachidonic acids. Due to this monounsaturated fatty acid, the seeds are able to lower LDL cholesterol, and to increase HDL cholesterol. Omega – 3 acids also help with lowering blood pressure, and decrease the risk of strokes, coronary artery disease, colon, prostate and breast cancer. They are mandatory for normal infant development and for maturation of nervous system.

Due to the lignans they contain, they are great antioxidant food as well. On the other hand, they contain vitamin E, lipid soluble antioxidant that is necessary for skin protection and required for maintaining mucus membranes.

Seeds are rich with niacin thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, and folates.

Manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, and magnesium are all present is flax seeds as well.

As for the side effects, flax seeds can cause stomach pain, and laxative diarrhea when eaten in large amounts. Apart from this, they have no harmful effects on health when used in moderation.

How Beneficial Are Poppy Seeds?

Poppy seeds were very popular in Ancient Egypt, India, and Persia. They belong to Papaveraceae family, and their scientific name is Popaver somniferum. These biennial herb origins are in East Mediterranean countries and Asia Minor. To be able to grow, the plant needs sunny and fertile soil, and when these conditions are optimum, it can grow up to 5 feet in height. During spring, blue, red, white, or lilac flowers turn into oval or globular shaped fruit, in fact capsules. One fruit capsule or head contains numerous tiny, bean shaped seeds that can be light gray, dark gray, and black depending on the cultivar type. They are commonly used as a condiment in cooking due to their pleasant and nutty taste, but they are known as seeds with high nutritional value and antioxidant properties.

The recognizable nutty taste comes from many fatty acids and essential volatile oils. As well as flex seeds, poppy seeds are rich with oleic and linoleic acids. Many researchers recommend poppy seeds for digestive tract problems due to their ability to increase bulk of the food by absorbing water. All this is possible because of the rich amount of dietary fiber.

Rich in B-complex vitamins and minerals such as cooper, iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc, poppy seeds are necessary for the production of red cells, and for blood pressure.

Pregnant women and children can consume poppy seeds safely. The fact that dried poppy seeds contain small levels of opium alkaloids (morphine, codeine, thebaine) does not characterize them as harmful and dangerous.

Moreover, these opium alkaloids have beneficial effects on human organism and body. They are able to soothe nervous system, and they act as painkillers. Some traditional medicinal systems use poppy seeds in tonics as remedies for coughs.

Are Sesame Seeds Good for Health?

Sesame seeds were one of the first seeds known to human kind, and they were grown widely for both culinary and medicinal usage.

Sesame seeds are obtained from tall sesame plant that belongs to Pedaliaceae family. The plant is very famous in China and India, and one of the famous commercial crops in Sudan, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. When the soil is well drained and sandy, this plant can grow about 5 feet tall. Soon after the pink-white flowers flourish, the pods appear. These pods contain white, brown, or black seeds, depending on the cultivator type. A single pod can contain up to 100 or more seeds.

100 grams of delish and crunchy seeds provides 573 calories and 18 grams of protein.

Mono-unsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid is also present in sesame seeds. Due to acids and proteins, they are essential for growth, especially in children. On the other hand, sesame seeds contain folic acid that is essential for DNA synthesis.

Sesame seeds contain sesamol and sesaminol that are phenolic antioxidants. They are necessary for removal of the harmful free radicals from the human body. Rich with B-complex vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, manganese, zinc, calcium, iron and selenium, sesame seeds reduce LDL cholesterol and regulate cardiac and skeletal muscle activities.

Some people may experience sesame seed allergy. This is a kind of hypersensitivity reaction that causes itching, dermatitis, and hives. Sometimes this allergy may lead to vomiting, and breathing difficulties, therefore, one should consult with health care provider.

Are Sunflower Seeds for the Optimum Health?

Due to the linoleic and oleic acid, sunflower seeds are food that can help lower LDL cholesterol. Rich in minerals, and vitamins, sunflower seeds are very beneficial food.

All the above-mentioned health benefits indicate how important these seeds really are for our organism and body. We should keep in mind their health properties and characteristics.

Reference

Bakru H.K. (2012). HERBS THAT Heal: Natural remedies for Good Health. Orient Paperbacks.

Ensminger A.H., Ensminger, M.E., Kondale J.E., and Robson J.R.K., (1983). Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press.

Ensminger A.H., Esminger M. K. J. e. al. (1986). Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis.

Joiner-Bey, H. (2004). The Healing Power of Flax: How Nature’s Richest Source of Omega -3 Fatty Acids Can Help to Health, Prevent and Reverse Arthritis, Cancer, Diabetes and Heart. Freedom pr Inc.

Schiff Jr, P. L. (2002), Opium and Its Alkaloids, American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, No 66.

Image credit: sjhuls / 123RF Stock Photo

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The Best Superfoods, from A to Z | Greatist

Fruits, and veggies, and whole grains, oh my! Beyond the grocery store shelves lined with less-than-healthy processed foods in brightly-colored packaging, there are still hundreds of healthy options waiting to be picked up and put in your shopping cart. (Many come in vibrant natural packaging!) They span every food group, from fruits and veggies to grains, dairy, and healthy fats! Here are 26 of our favorites, one for each letter of the alphabet, along with what makes them so super. (Plus a few healthy recipes to help you get super with some superfoods in the kitchen.)Superfoods A-to-Z

Avocado

If you’ve spent even a few minutes on Greatist, it’s no secret we’re huge fans of avocados. (There’s even an avocado-shaped piñata in our office!) There’s good reason, too: Avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fat (which can improve cholesterol levels, decrease risk of heart disease, and benefit brain function), vitamin E (a powerful antioxidant), and vitamin B6 (which promotes healthy skin and serves as a back-up fuel) [1] [2]. Plus, they’re just darn delicious (kale salad with avocado and grapefruit, anyone?). Just remember not to overdo it — this fruit is pretty heavy and high in calories, it’s probably best to consume no more than about half a fruit per day.
Try It Now: Dark Chocolate Avocado Cookies
Other A Superfoods: almonds, asparagus, apples

Beets

It’s hard to beat beets. First off, let’s talk about that color: Beets are high in betalain, an antioxidant that gives them that purple hue and may help ward off cancer and other degenerative diseases [3]. Vitmains A, B, and C offer additional benefits ranging from bolstering the immune system to helping the body produce collagen [4]. A healthy dose of potassium, which is essential for proper organ function, and fiber, which keeps the digestive tract regular and helps maintain heart health, help round out beets’ nutrition profile.
Try It Now: Spinach-Citrus Salad with Roasted Beets and Almond Vinaigrette
Other B Superfoods: broccoli, blueberries, bananas, beans

Chia

These little seeds may have gained fame as the base of the 90s chia pet craze, but they offer oh so much more as a superfood. Chia seeds are packed with magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium. Plus, they’re perfect for adding to smoothies, yogurt, and pudding. The little seeds can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water, which some studies suggest can help the body stay hydrated longer and may improve overall endurance [5].
Try It Now: Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding
Other C Superfoods: cantaloupe, cherries, cinnamon, cauliflower, cranberries, cabbage

Dates
Dates are great for a few reasons. First off, they’re a perfect healthy recipe substitution for both sugar and/or butter in baking. They’re also packed with fiber (which is essential for good heart and digestive health) and vitamins and minerals including potassium, selenium, copper, and magnesium [6].

Try It Now: Fruit and Nut Bars
Other D Superfoods: dill, dandelion greens

Eggs

Eggs are one of the best superfoods because you get a good serving of protein in an inexpensive little package. Just 70 calories and 6 grams of protein, eggs are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help with proper body function and heart health. They’re good for the eyes, too: The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin (found in the yolks) help protect the eyes from light and free radicals (and may even help prevent eye degeneration that can present with age) [7]. And while there’s been much debate about the health of those lil’ yellow centers (some say their cholesterol content is bad news bears), the yolks are full of choline, a B vitamin essential for proper brain function [8] [9].
Try It Now: Brussels Sprout and Egg Scramble

Flax
Besides their crazy-high fiber content, research suggests the omega-3s in these seeds can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease [10] [11]. It is important to note that the positive effects of flaxseed on cholesterol have been shown to be temporary, meaning they can wear off if regular (daily) consumption stops [12]. Add the seeds (whole or ground) to baked goods, oatmeal, or a salad, and skip the flax oil, which may not have the same awesome cholesterol-regulating powers [13].

Try It Now: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies with Flax

Grapes
Vitamins C and K, beta-carotene, and resveratrol are the health-benefit stars of this favorite super-fruit. These vitamins act as antioxidants in the body to help eliminate free radicals that can cause cellular damage [14][15]. Resveratrol has made headlines for its potential to lower LDL cholesterol, help inhibit cancer cell growth, and treat cognitive impairment [16][17].

Try It Now: Grape and Ginger Glazed Chicken
Other G Superfoods: goji berries, guava, green tea, Greek yogurt, garlic, ginger

Hemp

The biggest benefit here comes from essential fatty acids and protein. Those fatty acids (including polyunsaturated fats and omega-3s) may help fight coronary heart disease, cancer, and even symptoms of depression [18]. These little seeds aren’t lacking in vitamin and minerals, either — they’re high in magnesium, zinc, and iron. Gamma linolenic acid (aka GLA, also found in breast milk) also makes an appearance, adding a variety of benefits ranging from allergy defense, to helping treat attention deficit disorder, and even helping lower cholesterol levels [19].
Try It Now: Chia, Hemp, and Buckwheat Breakfast Pudding

Inca Berries

(aka cape gooseberries or, ground cherries, or husk cherries)
Here’s yet another superfood native to South America (along with goji berries and quinoa, to name a few!). Incan berries are packed with vitamins C and A, iron, niacin, and phosphorous. They’re also high in protein (especially for a berry!) and fiber. When eaten, they start off with a sweet flavor and finish with a bit of a sour twist.
Try It Now: Husk Cherries with Goat Cheese on Toast
Other I Superfoods: ice water

Jalapeño Peppers

Jalapeños are packed with capsaicin, a compound found in spicy peppers that’s credited with speeding up metabolism and suppressing appetite [20] This magical compound also increases fat oxidation (so the body can more easily use fat as fuel) [21].
Try It Now: Healthier Jalapeño Popper Chip Dip

Kiwi

Aside from containing a superhuman amount of vitamin C (243 percent of the daily recommended amount in just two fruits), kiwi is a fantastic source of folate, which is essential for overall cell health. Some studies suggest it may even reduce the risk of heart disease and colon cancer [22].
Try It Now: Greek Yogurt and Kiwi Parfait
Other K Superfoods: kale

Lemon

It’s no secret that citrus fruits — like the mighty lemon — are packed with vitamin C, which is essential for the body to produce collagen (which helps keep blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bones healthy and strong. Plus, they’re filled with the antioxidants known as flavonoids, which may help reduce risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, and fight some cancers [23] [24]. (Citrus fruit and pancreatic cancer risk: a quantitative systematic review. Bae J.M., Lee E.J., Guyatt G. Department of Preventative Medicine, Cheju National University College of Medicine, Jeju, Jejudo, Korea. Pancreas, 2009 Mar; 38(2):168-74.)). To get the biggest benefits from these sour sweeties, pair with foods high in iron (like leafy greens and red meat): Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, too!
Try It Now: Healthier Lemon Artichoke Dip
Other L Superfoods: lentils, leeks

Milk

Believe it or not, it’s the chocolate version of this cafeteria treat that’s touts some serious post-workout health benefits. Studies suggest that this delicious drink provides the optimal ratio of carbohydrates and protein for gym-goers to consume post-exercise. The research suggest that a chocolate milk fix could help improve performance, make for quicker exercise adaptation, and lead to better body composition [25].
Try It Now: Healthier Chocolate-Blueberry Smoothie

Nuts

Mixed Nuts

Giant bags of assorted nuts have been known to appear at the Greatist office regularly — and not just because they’re irresistibly delicious. The unsaturated fats in nuts are good for your heart, and some types (looking at you, almonds) can help lower blood pressure and body fat (when combined with a low-calorie diet) [26]. Nuts are also a good source of protein, making them perfect for a healthy midday snack to keep you full longer. While they can be a bit high in calories, they’re also nutrient-dense, meaning that you get a big nutritional bang for your calorie buck!
Try It Now: Fruit and Nut Bars

Oatmeal

By now, the whole “whole-grains” thing is burned into all of our brains, right? Good news: Oatmeal, that unassuming, easy, delicious breakfast staple is a great source of whole grains. It’s that “whole” part that makes oatmeal a great source of fiber, which has been shown to help lower blood cholesterol, aid in digestion, and improve metabolism [27]. While those instant oatmeal packets are certainly convenient, we recommend making your own at home to cut out any unnecessary sugar or additives (and so you can customize to your liking).
Try It Now: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Pumpkin

This superfood goes way beyond the standard pie — you can enjoy its health benefits in oatmeal (see recipe above), roasted and served in a salad, or in baked goods. The orange flesh of these Fall favorites is rich in antioxidants and vitamins including beta-carotene (essential for eye health), fiber, and vitamin K (which may reduce risk for some types of cancer) [28] [29]. But don’t stop with the actual meaty part of this gourd — the seeds are healthy, too. One ounce (about 140 seeds) is packed with protein, magnesium, zinc, and potassium, and studies suggest pumpkin seeds could help prevent enlargement of the prostate gland, lower the risk of bladder stones, and help prevent depression [30] [31] [32] [33].
Try It Now: Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding
Other P Superfoods: pineapple, pomegranate, pistachios

Quinoa

It may look like rice or couscous, but this mildly nutty, grain-like staple is actually a seed related to green leafy vegetables like kale and Swiss chard. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is one of the only grains or seeds that provide the nine essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce themselves [34].
Try It Now: Quinoa Apple Cake

Radish
These peppery, crunchy little beauties come in a few varieties, from white (also called daikon), to red, to (wait for it) watermelon! Some studies suggest certain compounds in radishes may be able to help stop the growth of some cancers (including breast cancer) [35]. More research suggests another compound found in radishes, anthocyanins (also found in cherries), may help prevent some cancers and even aid in muscle recovery after a tough workout (though this research is based on anthocyanins in cherries, not radishes) [36] [37].

Try It Now: Fresh Snap Pea and Radish Salad

Salmon

There’s nothing fishy about the health benefits of this seafaring superfood. Salmon is full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which studies suggest can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease [38]. Those trusty Omega-3s may also help protect skin from UV-induced damage [39].
Try It Now: Baked Salmon with Avocado-Dill Yogurt
Other S Superfoods: spinach, strawberries

Tea

Tea is undoubtedly one of the go-to beverages in the Greatist office, and it’s this ancient tonic’s health benefits that keep us steeping more and more! From boosting endurance to reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues and (potentially) a bunch of cancers (including breast, colon, skin, and lung, to name a few), tea leaves are a great way to stay hydrated and healthy at the same time. Plus, some research suggests green tea could help prevent some types of skin cancer, while black tea may help cure those annoying sunburns [40].
Try It Now: Green-Tea Oatmeal
Other T Superfoods: turmeric

Ugli Fruit
(aka Tangelo)

These ugly Uglis are actually a type of tangelo from Jamaica. And, well, we’ll leave it to you to guess how it got it’s name. This citrus fruit is a cross between a grapefruit, Seville orange, and tangerine — sort of like a tangelo, but bumpier and more lopsided. One fruit contains about 140 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C and about 90 calories. (Photo: Betty B)
Try It Now: Ugli Fruit Smoothie

Vegetables

Good news: you can’t really go wrong with vegetables. Regardless of the variety you choose, they’re going to have at least a handful of redeeming qualities, from high levels of vitamins and minerals to a good dose of fiber. Green veggies are a great source of iron and calcium; red veggies are usually packed with lycopene and anthocyanins; and allium veggies like garlic and onions are full of antioxidants (which can help protect against free radical damage to the body’s cells (and especially the skin) [41] [42].
Try It Now: Mixed Vegetable Salad Platter

Watermelon

Watermelon

With just 48 calories per cup and packed with water, this refreshing fruit makes for the perfect healthy snack mid-summer (or any time of year). It’s low in sugar, and high in vitamins A and C, as well as the amino acid citrulline, which help the body produce another amino acid, arginine. Arginine can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease [43] [44]. This melon’s also a great source of lycopene, the super-healthy essential carotenoid found in tomatoes, that studies suggest can protect the body from UV rays, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer [45] [46].
Try It Now: Watermelon-Lime Ice Pops
Other W Superfoods: wheatgrass

Xigua
(aka Watermelon)

Well, we’ve basically said it all. Xigua is just a specific type of the commonly known watermelon, so they have very similar (err, identical) health benefits. (Give us a break! There aren’t many foods that start with the letter X….)
Try It Now: Minted “Xigua” Salad

Yams

First, let’s get one thing straight: Yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing (though, yes, sweet potatoes are also a superfood). These tubers are low on the glycemic index, meaning that they can be consumed without negatively affecting blood sugar levels, making them a great food to eat for sustained energy. On top of that, yams are a great source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese, which are key for things like proper production of serotonin, nervous system function, and wound healing [47] [48].
Try It Now: Caribbean Roasted Root Vegetable and Goat Cheese Spring Rolls

Zucchini

Come July and August, zucchini’s a staple on most grocery store shelves. The best part? It can be used perfectly in both sweet (think zucchini bread) and savory (think simply grilled) dishes. This green-skinned veggie is packed with vitamins C and B6, potassium, manganese, and folate. Plus, it’s low in calories (just 20 per cup!) and has a high water content, so it’s great for hydrating in the summer heat, too.
Try It Now: Zucchini Noodles with Leek-Tomato Sauce

What’s your favorite superfood? Share with us in the comments below, or start a conversation in our Greatist #foodlover community forum!