Improve Your Diet With Seeds!
Seeds are a bit like eggs in the animal kingdom – rich in protein, oils and other nutrients needed for the plant to survive until it can grow roots to get nourishment from the soil. Compared with lean beef, sunflower seeds supply nearly twice as much protein, and Brazil nuts provide about three times more of the amino acid methionine – needed for your liver’s detoxification work. Brazil nuts are also the richest source of selenium.
Many seeds, especially nuts and sunflower seeds, also contain much arginine, an amino acid which boosts the blood vessel relaxer nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps to control blood pressure and relieve angina. Peanuts yield four times as much arginine as eggs.
Lentils and beans are not rich sources of methionine or arginine, but are an excellent source of the amino acid lysine, which helps protect us from viruses and turn fat into energy; so it’s a good idea to eat a variety of seeds rather than relying on just one or two types for your protein.
Unlike meat, unprocessed seeds have many extra benefits: healthy oils, B vitamins, magnesium and fiber. Cocoa powder, oats, unrefined wheat grains, nuts, sunflower and sesame seeds and soya beans are some of the best sources of magnesium, which is often lacking in the modern processed diet.
Polyunsaturated oils are vital for cell membranes, which allow nutrients into cells and waste products out. They also help keep our red blood cells flexible enough to pass through narrow blood vessels and nourish parts of our body such as eyes and ears which are hard to reach. Borage, evening primrose and flax seeds contain exceptionally active oils and are made into supplements.
Researchers have found that fenugreek seeds can make insulin work better in diabetics. Fenugreek seeds also contain a lot of mucilage, and once ground up and soaked in hot water they can be consumed to soothe the digestive system. In Chinese medicine fenugreek seeds are used as a yang tonic to support the energies of the kidneys, heart and digestive system.
The humble pumpkin seed
Plant oestrogens are good for women, and pumpkin seeds are good for men.. They are best known as a treatment for enlarged prostate, and can also treat worms. Like nuts and sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds promote good prostate health with their rich supply of protein, zinc and essential polyunsaturated oils. But one of the oils in pumpkin seeds, known as delta-7-sterol, is particularly useful as it can both block the uptake of and mimic a male hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is thought to be undesirable..
Celery seeds contain coumarin, a substance that helps to release water retention. Arthritis is often painful because of the pressure caused by fluid retention (swelling) around a joint, and celery seeds are one of the very best remedies for this condition. They are also a good source of natural plant sodium. Dr Nadya Coates, author of A Matter of Life, believes that plant sodium reduces irritation by neutralizing the harmful effects of the inorganic sodium found in salt.
Caraway and Fennel seeds
These help to counteract flatulence and intestinal spasms, and are often added to cabbage dishes or made into a tea.
With all this good news about seeds, are there any disadvantages? The answer is yes. Raw seeds contain a number of mild natural toxins to protect them from predators, including:
— Lectins, if these are absorbed into your blood they make cells clump together
— Phytic acid, which binds to minerals in our food, making it harder to absorb them
— Enzyme inhibitors, which partly deactivate our digestive juices and force our pancreas to work harder
— Goitrogens, which are not good for our thyroid.
Cooking helps to break down some of these toxins. For instance some poisonous lectins found in beans are deactivated by fast-boiling the beans for ten minutes. Baking wholewheat flour with yeast reduces phytic acid. Soaking or cooking raw grains helps to reduce enzyme inhibitors. The Swiss never eat muesli without soaking the grains in liquid for a few hours..
But by far the best way to deactivate most seed toxins is to sprout the seeds. This not only reduces toxins but makes the seeds much more nutritious.
As seeds begin to germinate, enzymes break the protein down into free amino acids, which are easy to absorb. Lectins, phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are reduced to much lower levels. Starch is turned to sugar, oils are reduced, vitamin C is created, and B vitamins rise. What does this mean? Sprouted seeds are an excellent source of highly digestible protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals. Since many people today suffer from nutritional deficiencies and bowel problems due to poor digestion, they are strongly recommended to turn to sprouted grains and pulses rather than their unsprouted counterparts. Experiments carried out on rats have shown a healing effect on colitis.
And here’s some more exciting news. Research carried out at research centers has found that three-day-old sprouts of broccoli and cauliflower seeds contain large amounts of a substance known as sulforaphane, which protects against cancer. But for fenugreek, pumpkin, celery seeds etc., it is not yet known whether sprouting would enhance or perhaps reduce their therapeutic properties.
Popular seeds for sprouting include green or brown lentils, mung beans, radish and alfalfa seeds and chickpeas. Seeds intended for planting in the garden may have been treated with chemicals, so for sprouting purposes it is best to buy either organic seeds, or seeds intended for human consumption. Be careful to wash organic seeds from garden suppliers. They have been known to carry harmful bacteria.
Put a handful of seeds in a jar, add plenty of water, and leave to soak overnight. The next day tie a piece of nylon from an old pair of pantyhose securely around the neck of the jar and pour away the water through this material. Leave the seeds in a warm place, and twice a day pour in more water to rinse them, then drain again. Sprouted lentils and beans can be consumed when the sprout is about ¼ inch long but alfalfa seeds are usually sprouted until they about an inch long and used in salads and sandwiches.
By: Linda Lazarides