Alternatives to Pumpkin Seeds
There are a good number of seeds to substitute pumpkin seeds. These seeds are just as nutrient and full of health benefits. Some of which are:
- Sesame seeds
Traditional societies have touted the positive benefits of this seed for thousands of years. Sesame seeds are very high in calcium, magnesium, zinc, fiber, iron, B1 and phosphorus. Sesame seeds are unique in their chemical structure. Possessing important cholesterol-fighting fibers known as lignans, studies show that these seeds can lower blood pressure, as well as prevent liver damage. Sesame seeds may also help prevent many health problems, including PMS. The wild sesame plant hails from Africa and India, with the first domesticated versions popping up in the Indus Valley around 2000 B.C. Sesame seeds are often sprinkled on finished dishes: Asian stir fries, salads, even bagels. Hummus is usually made with sesame paste, also called tahini. Chattel slaves brought native sesame seeds over the Middle Passage and introduced them to the US. Sesame oil is a regular condiment in many Asian countries, oftentimes sitting right next to Sriracha and fish sauce on the table. As you can tell, sesame is pretty much everywhere now, and its distinctive flavor (especially in the oil) can really make or break a dish. Overuse of this ingredient may lead to running the risk of overpowering the rest of the food, while none at all makes achieving certain flavors impossible. Sesame seeds also contain sesamin, a lignan with (potentially) a number of incredible health benefits.
- Sunflower seeds
These seeds are the perfect phytochemical-rich seed for those of us looking to lose weight, as they promote healthy digestion and increase fiber intake. Sunflower seeds are also extremely rich in folate, a very important nutrient for women. They are packed full of good fats, antioxidant-rich Vitamin E, selenium and copper, all crucial elements in supporting heart health and balancing troublesome cellular damage. Sunflower seeds provide folate and selenium. Women wishing to become pregnant would especially benefit from sunflower seeds’ folate content. Folate helps the body break down and use proteins, form red blood cells, and prevent birth defects. Selenium may benefit a man’s reproductive health, too, by boosting sperm production and movement. And the sunny benefits continue for sunflower seeds. An ounce of the tiny treats serves up 47% of daily recommended intake of vitamin E that protects cells from free radical damage.
- Chia seeds
These seeds are from the mint family. Extremely tiny, yet extremely potent, these small seeds are packed full of fiber, protein, nutrient oils, various antioxidants and even calcium. Studies show that chia seeds stabilize the blood sugar, promote heart health, as well as increase weight loss. These amazing little seeds are an excellent source of high-quality fats, as they are made up of a whopping 34% pure omega-3 oils. Chia seeds contain a decent amount of protein. By weight, they are about 14% protein, which is very high compared to most plants. They also contain a good balance of essential amino acids, so our bodies should be able to make use of the protein in them. Protein has all sorts of benefits for health. It is also the most weight loss friendly nutrient in the diet. A high protein intake reduces appetite and has been shown to reduce obsessive thoughts about food by 60% and the desire for night time snacking by 50%. Another area where chia seeds shine is in their high amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants protect the sensitive fats in the seeds from going rancid. Although antioxidant supplements are not very effective, getting antioxidants from foods can have positive effects on health. Most importantly, antioxidants fight the production of free radicals, which can damage molecules in cells and contribute to ageing and diseases like cancer.
- Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are truly a super food, as they are packed with an impressive list of nutritional attributes. Perfectly balanced with a three to one omega-6 to omega-3 oil ratio, they are also an excellent source of gamma linoleic and acid. Containing 10 essential amino acids, hemp seeds are composed of over thirty percent pure protein, making them an excellent daily protein source. They are also composed of 40 percent fiber, the highest amount of any grain on earth! Also containing disease-fighting phytosterols, studies show that hemp seeds, or even hemp milk, support heart health and can provide nutritional support against many dangerous diseases. Hemp seeds have excellent balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which promote cardiovascular health. They have high gamma linolenic acid (GLA), found in borage oil and egg yolks that has been proven to naturally balance hormones. These seeds not only contain all 20 amino acids, but also each of the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce. Hemp seeds are also rich in soluble and un-soluble fiber which naturally cleanses the colon and reduces sugar cravings.