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While attention is often given to the nutritional qualities of nuts, their smaller cousin seeds also provide rich sources of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Seeds can also be used in meals similar to nuts—eaten whole as snacks, blended and spread on bread and crackers as butters, sprinkled on salads and ground into powder, which can be added to baked goods and pancakes. These five types of seeds offer excellent sources of nutrients without containing any natural sugar, making them healthy plant food choices forkids and adults alike. The website NutritionData.com provides nutritional information based on portion size.
This seed taken from a plant in the mint family is growing in popularity since it is a great source of omega 3 fat. One ounce of chia seeds contain 1.6 grams of omega 3 fat, which is the total amount that the Food and Drug Administration recommends eating every day. Omega 3 rich foods are important in your daily diet because most plant foods contain lots of omega 6 fat but very little omega 3 fat. Chia seeds do contain some protein, phosphorus and manganese, but virtually no vitamins or other minerals. So be sure to balance your consumption of chia seeds with other types of seeds with a more balanced nutritional profile. Consumer Reports also notes that while the unsaturated fat in chia seeds is generally healthy, they can be harmful to men with prostate problems.
Flaxseeds contain an unusually high amount of omega-3 fat, a type of fat found very few foods that is essential to every person’s diet. Omega 3 fat not only acts as an antioxidant to prevent disease, but it is used by the body to promote healthy cell growth and brain function. Flaxseeds can be purchased whole or already ground up, but should be eaten ground since they are better absorbed in that form. One tablespoon of ground flaxseeds contains about 1.6 grams of plant omega-3 fat. Check the U.S. Department of Agriculture web site for a table indicating the amount of omega-3 you or your child should be getting daily.