11 seeds and their health benefits you should know

11 seeds and their health benefits you should know

Seldom accorded their due in the nutritive food ladder, seeds lose out to the more appealing and scrumptious nuts

Gita HariUpdated: Saturday, July 29, 2023, 07:28 PM IST

Be it any seed, they never fail to deliver fibre, minerals, antioxidants and good fats. They help fill important shortfalls in your diet. Cheat the seeds by soaking, as it translates as germination of a new plant for them, and they get ready to provide all the nourishment required for the growth of their little ones. When you eat these sprouts, you gain the health benefits reserved for the young plants.

Nutritionist & Lifestyle Educator Karishma Chawla advises, “Seeds like flax and chia shall be consumed by women as sources of omega 3 fats, but must be avoided by men since they contain phytoestrogens. Seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower or watermelon shall be taken in small quantities to benefit from their vitamin and mineral content. Large quantities increase the intake of Omega 6 fats and reduce the benefits of Omega 3 fats.”

Papaya seeds

“These seeds are a good source of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. It has a strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect on the digestive system too,” informs Nutritionist & Lifestyle Educator Karishma Chawla. Eat them straight from the fruit if your tastebuds like a mildly spicy, peppery flavour.

Hemp seeds

Despite belonging to ganja plant, hemp seeds do not create a mood-altering effect but are considered as superfood. They burst with very superior quality of plant protein to help muscle building due to its 20 amino acids. Also packs in bone-building calcium, energy-boosting elements and brings relief to skin ailments like eczema. Drink as bhang thandai occasionally, or engage its soft, buttery texture by sprinkling on shakes, breakfast cereals, salads, bruschettas, toastadas.

Kala jeera/kalonji

It one of the most found seeds in Indian kitchens. Its benefits include hypoglycemic activity which means it controls bloods sugar and is a boon for diabetics. It is helpful in ailments of heart, eyes, stomach and neurological disorders. It also reduces the harmfulness of chemicals and safeguards against liver and kidney damage. Lightly toasted and ground, its herb-like aroma can up the flavour profile of curries, stir-fried in veggies or dals.

Flax seeds

Considered to be among the top rankers in dietary sources of soluble fibre, the nutty seeds slacken digestion which means they offer satiety and regulate blood sugar. Modulates inflammation as it contains omega-3 and lignans help prevent cancer. Raw flaxseeds contain toxin and they have to be toasted before consuming. Baker Saloni Mehta suggests, “Besides sprinkling it on soups, salads and raita, I use it in baked goods by swapping a certain proportion of butter with ground flaxseed.”

Chia seeds

An old hand with strong antioxidant measure and Omega-3 fatty acids, it was used to strengthen Aztec armies. Chia seeds puts forth its fibre in a unique way. It bloats to form a gel when it syntheses with peptic juices in the gut leading to a feeling of fullness and controls blood sugar. Dry seeds can be added to yoghurt, salad, breakfast cereals. Chia gel can help thicken soups, smoothies, stews or puddings.

Pumpkin seeds

Often tossed away as waste, these priceless seeds boost skin health, improve heart and liver functions, apart from aiding weight loss and bone strength. The presence of fibre, Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, magnesium and antioxidants contribute to its health benefits. They defend against chronic and serious ailments like heart disease and cancer. Blend in sauces, smoothies, sprinkle roasted and muddled seeds over salads for a crunch. Simply roast and eat as a snack.

Sabja/sweet basil seeds

Dense in proteins, minerals and fibre, its daily intake helps in stimulating the production of hormones, enzymes effective for better functioning of the body. They have soluble fibre which promotes gut health and keeps cholesterol in check. Besides yummy falooda, they can be added to lemon water, chaas/buttermilk or any juice. Soak them in water for 20 minutes before having them.

Sesame seeds

Gen X is familiar with sesame seeds as sprinkles on burger or hot dog buns, naans and kulchas. But they merit more than a casual shower since they contain calcium, especially for lacto-intolerant individuals this is a dairy-free source of the mineral so essential for strong bones and healthy muscles. The black variety is loaded with more antioxidants. Til chikkis or ladoos offer the required energy boost.

Watermelon seeds

Another underrated seed that gets thrown away after relishing the hydrating fruit, is a powerhouse of micro-nutrients like selenium, copper, zinc, potassium and macro-nutrients like vitamin B and healthy fats. “It can be sun-dried, ground and added to supplements. Watermelon seeds are immunity boosters and great for heart health,” recommends Nutritionist Hetal Shah.

Cucumber seeds

Separate the seeds from cucumber, rinse, sun dry them for a week and store in an airtight container. Swarming with more calcium than other seeds, they also pack a punch of iron, zinc, manganese and sodium. Add them to trail mix, pepper them on salads, soups or just munch on them with other seeds and a hint of chaat masala for a scrumptious evening snack.

Sunflower seeds

The humble sunflower seeds are chock-full of antioxidant-rich carotenoids, Vitamin E, selenium, good fats and copper. A good source of fibre, it helps to keep you sated for long periods. Folate, a nutrient which is vital for women, can be found in it. They can be added to trail mix or included in oatmeal.

Pro tips

Sprout the seeds to get optimum nutrition. Never roast seeds as they tend to lose their nutritive values.

Avoid eating seeds of tomato, apple, raw kidney beans, lychee, apricot, plum, cherries, and peaches as they contain cyanogenic compounds

in them.

Rinse and sun-dry watermelon and cucumber seeds for a week before using.

Rotate your seeds — aim to ingest six teaspoons of mixed seeds every day.

Sabja seeds can reduce the blood clotting property in blood cells. Avoid it two weeks before surgery.

Papaya seeds should not be taken by pregnant women. People with stomach disorders, hypoglycaemia or kidney stones must take their healthcare provider’s advise.

Pineapple flaxseed raita


3 tsp flaxseed (toasted and ground)

1 large cup pineapple cubes

1 large cup curd

1tsp cumin seed, roasted and coarsely ground

Red chilli powder to sprinkle l Salt to taste

Method: Combine pineapple, 2 tsp flaxseed powder, salt and give a good mix. Refrigerate for an hour. Sprinkle flaxseed, cumin seed powders and chilli powder before serving.

Ellu sadam


75 gm Basmati rice

2 tsp Black til

1 tsp Urad dal

3 Red chilli

Salt to taste

Curry leaves

Method: Cook the rice and set it aside. Roast the til and urad dal separately till the aroma comes out. Remove the seeds and roast the red chillies. Grind the roasted ingredients (til, urad dal, red chillies) into a fine powder. Take a mixing bowl, add cooked rice, the til powder and salt. Give it a good mix. Ellu sadam is ready. Garnish with fried curry leaves and serve with papadam.

(Recipe by Masterchef Bala, South of Vindhyas, The Orchid Hotel)


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