6 Superfoods You Aren't Eating
You can pack a powerful nutritional punch into these small packages.
Any kid who grew up watching The Jetsons dreamed of the day she could eat her dinner in pill form, rather than having to sit through another plate of broccoli and cabbage. Fast-forward to reality, and we're still waiting for that dinner-in-a-pill. But there really are super-nutrient-dense foods that you can pop like pills without having to type anything into Rosie's computer. Just head to the seed aisle at your local grocery store.
Edible seeds are chock-full of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, says Sharon Palmer, R.D., author of the new book The Plant-Powered Diet: The Lifelong Eating Plan for Achieving Optimal Health Beginning Today (The Experiment, 2012). "People don't think about grabbing seeds as a snack or as a food source. People think of them as bird food more than anything else." But ignore them at your own health risk. In addition to being nutrient-dense, she adds, seeds are full of phytosterols, compounds in plants that are as effective as prescription statins at lowering cholesterol.
You need to eat just 1 ounce, about 2 tablespoons' worth, of the following seeds every day to reap their nutritional benefits, says Palmer. "And they're such easy snacks!" she says. (Get more tips like this in The Daily Fix, Rodale New's free daily newsletter.)
Eat 'em: Pumpkin seeds are high in protein, iron, and zinc, and they're one of the best sources of magnesium, a mineral that helps stabilize blood pressure, build bone strength, and even reduce stress. A French study found that men with the highest levels of magnesium in their blood have a 40 percent lower risk of early death than those with the lowest levels.
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Eat 'em: Eat sunflower seeds, ward off sun damage. Just half a cup of
Use 'em: You can just eat them raw, but why be boring? Try
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Eat 'em: Chia seeds are an incredible fiber resource with nearly half (11 grams) of the amount you need every day in a single ounce. They also contain 18 percent of your daily calcium requirement--more than triple that of milk--which helps your bones, and they have some of the highest levels of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids of any seed.
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Eat 'em: More than just a decoration on the sesame chicken you just ordered,
Use 'em: Since they're so small, sesame seeds aren't great for snacking, but hummus is--and one of the main ingredients in that tasty spread is tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds. Or buy a jar of tahini and spread it on flatbreads or pitas, as you would peanut butter.
Eat 'em: Hemp is one of very few plant proteins that supply you with all the essential amino acids, acids your body can't produce on its own to build muscle and create protein. The fatty acids in hemp seeds also boost your immune system, and the crop itself is highly sustainable, growing as fast as 10 feet in 100 days and naturally requiring very few pesticides. Along with chia and flax seeds (another of Palmer's favorite seeds),
Use 'em: "I recommend that people eat at least one serving of those seeds every day," Palmer says. Hemp seeds have a slightly nutty flavor and taste good sprinkled into oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, or smoothies.
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Eat 'em: Addicted to pomegranate seeds? Then give papayas a try. The seeds are rich in oleic and palmitic acids, two fatty acids thought to ward off cancer, and in traditional Chinese medicine, a teaspoon of papaya seeds is often given to detoxify the liver.
Use 'em: Popular in Hawaiian cuisine, the seeds are often ground up and used like pepper in salad dressings and other foods, Palmer says.
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