What's the New 'It' Food for Health? Seeds.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia is now about eating the seeds, not growing them.

flaxseedsFlaxseeds photo via Shutterstock

Seeds are the “it” nutritional item of the moment. There are different varieties available to sprinkle on your food at the Whole Foods salad bar, there’s pumpkin-chia muffins available in bakeries, and even flaxseed oatmeal is offered at diners. What could be so good about eating something that a bird eats? Apparently, a lot. The three hottest seeds on the market right now have so many health benefits, you may just want to build a nest for your new diet.

Chia seeds

Chia Pets made the seed famous decades ago because someone said it was fun to grow a plant out of an animal shaped container. Now the trend is all about the seeds. Chia seeds come from the mint family, but do not taste like minty fresh gum. They can, however, be eaten in a variety of forms, including whole, ground, sprouted, or soaked, which creates a gel. Since chia seeds are chock-full of antioxidants, they can be stored for long periods of time without going bad. They also provide the body with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, calcium, magnesium, copper, niacin, zinc and more.

How are they used?

Chia is different than other seeds because of its gel and thickening capacities. When added to either baking recipes or milk (or non-dairy milk), chia seeds transform the recipes, creating either chia pudding or pancakes. When left overnight, they will thicken your dishes even more. Add them to smoothies, or top a salad to add a little crunch to your greens.

Did you know?

Chia seeds can be used as a low-fat substitute for butter in most baked goods.


Flaxseed is so good for you that according to the Flax Council of Canada, in eighth century Babylon, King Charlemagne passed laws that required his subjects to eat the seeds. He certainly knew what he was doing. Today, doctors have discovered flaxseed has omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to provide heart-healthy benefits, lignans, which have antioxidant qualities, and fiber, both insoluble and soluble, also valuable for the heart.

How are they used?

Flaxseed can be added into cereals, salads, and baked goods. One teaspoon of flax meal (ground up flaxseed) plus two teaspoons of water serves as one egg in baking recipes, so flaxseed is common among animal-free bakers. Flax meal can be added to almost any recipe to give it a heartier taste. Try this recipe for fruity flaxseed muffins.

Did you know?

Flaxseed must be ground up before being digested. Otherwise, the nutrients will pass through your system without providing all the mentioned benefits. Use a magic bullet or large blender to break seeds down into meal and store refrigerated in an airtight container so that it is ready for sprinkling on your favorite dishes.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp is not just for hippies anymore. These tiny seeds are softer in texture than other seeds and have a mild flavor. Another great vegan substitute, these little seeds pack a punch with all the essential amino acids needed for the body, making them a complete protein source, a rarity for plant-based foods. In addition to the amino acids, hemp seeds contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. While hemp does belong to the cannabis plant group, it contains less than one percent of THC. Compare that to the 15 percent found in marijuana, enough to cause mind-boggling effects, and it’s not surprising that people are eating hemp seeds without any unwanted effects.

How are they used?

Hemp seeds are one of the most versatile seeds because of their mild flavor. They can be added to smoothies, soups, oatmeal, or sprinkled on top of a salad. Hemp seeds are useful in many vegan recipes because of their high protein content.

Did you know?

Hemp seeds are actually a fruit instead of a seed.

Do you eat seeds? Which seed is your favorite?