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The Power of Seeds (And How to Use Them!)

Some are packed with omega-3s. Some are chock-full of calcium. And others may even improve your cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

No, we’re not describing new drugs or dietary supplements. We’re talking about seeds. Proving that you should never judge a food by its size, these little guys are nutritional powerhouses! Read on to find out how to incorporate them into your diet.

Instead of This, Try That

Seeds can step in as an effective substitution for some baking ingredients. For example, try replacing eggs with chia seeds (yes, the same kind used to grow Chia Pets). They expand quickly after absorbing water and can take on the texture of a raw egg. Even more impressive, chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. They also contain protein, iron, calcium, magnesium, and iron. 

How to use: For one egg, combine 1 tablespoon of whole chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water. Let the mixture sit and thicken for about 20 minutes.

You can also swap out oil for ground flaxseed. Another seed high in omega-3s, it may help lower your risk for coronary heart disease. In the grocery store, always look for ground flaxseeds—your body can’t process whole flaxseeds, so it must be ground for you to reap the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids.

How to use: For every 1 tablespoon of oil, use 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed.

Boost Your Health

Even when you aren’t baking, chia seeds and ground flaxseed can increase the nutritional value of various foods. Try these easy add-on ideas:

  • Sprinkle a few teaspoons of ground flaxseed into breakfast cereal (hot or cold), salads, soups, or stews.

  • Stir chia seeds into salad dressings, sauces, or marinades.

  • Create the chia gel noted above and add to smoothies, puddings, or soups to thicken them. Just be sure you stir in the gel after these foods are prepped.

Snack on Seeds

If you’re looking for a new healthy snack, try pumpkin seeds (also known as pepitas). Research shows that eating pumpkin seeds is linked with a reduced risk for breast and prostate cancer. They can also lower blood sugar, which is important for people who have diabetes.

 

Buy plain seeds—not salted!—or scoop them out of a pumpkin yourself. Then add some spices and roast the seeds on a cookie sheet on the top rack of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

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