Why are seeds showing up everywhere? Once destined as a decorative topping, they’re now appearing as key internal ingredients of both products generally considered healthy (think oatmeal) and those considered unhealthy (think chips). They’ve even made their way to sweets, like these waffles!
Let’s compare some of the more widely used seeds individually and see why manufacturers are slipping them into their products and which ones you might want to do the same with at home. Most of them can be sprinkled on top or added into recipes without changing anything else in the recipe, but a few others do require some alterations. For instance, beware of Chia seeds which will absorb liquid and expand when used.
What a Difference a Seed Makes
You’ve heard the expression that “good things come in small packages” – well, this is so true for seeds! Seeds can add a unique nutty flavor to different foods but they are much more than that. These tiny bits actually contain protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Use the following chart to pick your favorites, but since each type of seed is so unique it’s good to find a place for all of them in your diet.
The numbers in the table below are calculated on 1 Tablespoon of the listed seed.
|Seed||Best Component||Reason to Use||Protein||Fiber||Fat||Carbs||Calories|
|Chia Seeds||High fiber that swells when moistened||Feel full & snack less||3 g||5 g||4.5 g||5 g||60 cal|
|Flax Seeds||Omega-3 fats||Keep cholesterol in check if you avoid fish||1 g||2 g||3 g||2 g||37 cal|
|Hemp Seeds||Perfect protein – all 20 amino acids||Helps balance hormones||3 g||1 g||4 g||1 g||57 cal|
|Pumpkin Seeds||Magnesium||Help fight diabetes||2.5 g||.5 g||4 g||1 g||45 cal|
|Sesame Seeds||High in calcium & copper||Add taste and texture||1.5 g||1 g||4.5 g||1 g||52 cal|
|Sunflower Seeds||Vitamin E||Inexpensive||2 g||1 g||4.5 g||2 g||51 cal|
Note: These numbers may vary slightly depending upon where you look, we’ve taken them from nutrition labels on packages of raw seeds. Roasted seeds, due to the addition of oil, will have higher numbers in the fat and calorie columns.
You can pretty much shake some seeds into whatever recipe you’d like, just beware that chia seeds will absorb the liquid element in your recipe as they absorb the moisture and transform from crunchy seeds to jelly-like balls. For ideas on how to include sesame seeds in your diet, see our sesame seed post.
To find out how long seeds last, check our nuts and seeds menu page.