Tuesday, 24 June 2014

How we rate the top seeds

By the HFG experts

Andy Murray is one of the top seeds competing in this year’s Wimbledon – but what about the food kind? If you want some advice on which seeds are winners (and how to add them to meals and snacks to help make your diet healthier), here’s Healthy Food Guide’s top selection…

From omega-3 to zinc and iron, seeds are packed with nutrients, explains HFG expert and nutrition scientist Bridget Benelam. ‘They do have a high fat content (at least 45%) but the fat is the healthy, unsaturated type. It means they’re high in calories, though, so don’t eat too many. When snacking, it’s best to stick to a small handful (around 30g), which has about 175 calories.’


Flaxseeds/linseeds (pictured)
One of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3 fats, flaxseed also contains phyto-oestrogens (naturally occurring compounds that mimic the female sex hormone oestrogen) – and so may be helpful for easing menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes. They may also help to relieve constipation.
Try: sprinkling ground flaxseed on to cereal or adding it to smoothies.

Sunflower seeds
These are rich in a variety of nutrients, including zinc to boost your immune system, iron for healthy blood, and magnesium and phosphorus for strong bones.
Try: sprinkling on to soups, stews and tagines.

Pumpkin seeds
In China, pumpkin seeds are used to prevent prostate problems, specifically a condition called benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), which causes an enlarged prostate gland to press on the urethra and affect urinary flow. This may be because they contain a naturally occurring compound called beta-sitosterol, which German research found improved urinary flow in patients with BPH when given in concentrated doses. Whether there’s enough in a handful of pumpkin seeds to have the same effect needs more research. Regardless, just like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients including protein, vitamins and minerals.
Try: sprinkling on to summer salads or over your porridge.

Chia seeds
Chia is the highest combined food source of omega-3, fibre and protein and is loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals – some reports claim it’s the richest plant source of omega-3 fats. It boosts energy, concentration and memory, balances blood sugar, relieves joint pain and aids weight loss and heart health. Chia has a mild flavour, making it a versatile ingredient.
Try: scattering over salads, cereals or yogurt, or adding to baked products, such as muffins or bread. When mixed with water chia forms a gel, which you can use to blend into soups, stews or smoothies.


Seed and nut bars
‘Some so-called “healthy” cereal bars containing seeds, nuts and honey are very high in fat and sugar, so always check the label,’ warns Bridget.

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