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The Seeds of a Healthy Diet

My teenage daughter’s favorite grab 'n go breakfast consists of a few gulps of OJ, a toasted English muffin, and a handful of roasted sunflower kernels. “A perfect breakfast,” she states. Teenage translation: "I can sleep a few more minutes and eat it while I walk to the bus stop." However, it got me to thinking about seeds—those teeny, tiny tidbits of nutrition.

A seed is the part of a plant that contains the embryo of a future plant. To provide the embryo with a good source of energy, the seed often contains stored nutrients and oils that make the seed high in fat.

Nutritionally speaking, the health benefits of seeds have not been studied as much as nuts. However, seeds are excellent sources of fiber, selenium and vitamin E, and fairly good sources of protein, zinc, and iron. Because they contain a concentrated source of fat and calories, it is best to enjoy them in small amounts (1/8 - 1/4 cup), 3-4 times a week.

Common Seed Types
  • Flaxseed has been part of the human diet for thousands of years. However, its popularity has increased recently due to its health benefits. These seeds must be ground before you eat them so that your body can utilize the nutrients.
  • Hemp Seeds have a delicious, nutty flavor.  Unlike marijuana, hemp seeds contain virtually no THC (the psychoactive ingredient in pot), so you don't have to worry about failing your company’s drug test.
  • Pumpkin and Squash Seeds aren't just for Halloween! These seeds with a chewy, peanutty flavor make a pleasant snack year-round.
  • Sesame Seeds add a crunchy texture to many Asian dishes. They are often sprinkled on steamed veggies, added to salads, sprinkled on breads and tossed into stir-fries. These nutty tasting, oval-shaped seeds are often ground into a paste called tahini. This paste is a staple ingredient in many Middle Eastern foods such as halvah, hummus, soups and sandwiches.
  • Sunflower Seeds come from the huge head of the sunflower, which is filled with these delicious seeds with a nutty flavor. People of all ages enjoy cracking the shell open with their teeth, digging out the kernel, and spitting out the shell's remains. Sunflower kernels make tasty additions to trail mix, granola, stuffing, and baked goods.

Selection and Storage
Select seeds that are in sealed jars, bags or containers to help ensure freshness. Because seeds are high in fat, they will spoil easily. Store them in a cool, dark, dry location. Seeds can be refrigerated from 2 months to a year or kept in the freezer for up to 2 years.

Toasting and Seasoning
You can enhance the flavor of your seeds by lightly toasting them. Place a single layer of seeds in a skillet over low heat. Stir constantly for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. To add flavor, coat lightly with olive oil and season with salt, soy sauce, garlic powder, chili powder, seasoning salt, or your favorite dry salad dressing mix.

You can eat some seeds, such as squash and pumpkin varieties, with or without their outer husk or shell. Others (safflower and sunflower seeds) have a tough coat that you must remove before eating. Seeds can be eaten alone as a snack or added to rice dishes, salads, homemade breads and muffins, stir-fries, trail mixes, yogurt, granola, cereal and oatmeal. Try SparkPeople's Seedy Cinnamon Granola Recipe as a breakfast cereal, yogurt topping, or as an afternoon snack!

Nutrition Information

Seed Type
(1/4 cup)
Calories Fat
Flaxseed  224  18  12  8
Hemp seeds  162  10  1 11
Pumpkin & Squash seeds in shell,  roasted


 3  4  3
Pumpkin & Squash seeds, roasted  71  3  0  3
Safflower seeds, roasted  130  10  2  4
Sesame seeds in shell, roasted  141  12  3  4
Sesame seeds, roasted  182  15  6  6
Sunflower seeds, roasted  207  19  4  6

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Member Comments

Thank you. This Information will definitely help me with my cleanse. Report
good article Report
Make sure to use Ground flaxseeds, so you get nutrients from them! Report
thank you Report
adding seeds to foods Report
I use seeds when I make our bread, I add toasted hemp or sesame seeds to our kale salad and I raise black oil sunflowers to eat and feed to our chickens and wild birds.
Thanks for the info.! Report
Thanks for sharing this article,🌠💫🌟Kee
p Sparking! Enjoy your Saturday!🌟💫🌠 Report
Thank you for this information Report
thanks Report
Love seeds but have to becareful because of diverticuli. Report
we do love seeds..I keep mine in the freezer..especial
ly my flaxseeds Report
My family enjoys sesame and sunflower seeds. Will try to add more to our diets. Report
My favorite are poppy seeds. But unlike hemp seeds, they can cause a false positive in drug testing.

I know plenty of people who eat the whole sunflower seed, shell and all. I have no idea if this is any better for you. I think it's mostly a matter of laziness. Report
These seeds are wonderful in our diet. We should know the way to include them in our diet. Some recipes with these seeds are given at

Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to mention that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing for your feed and I am hoping you write once more soon!
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About The Author

Becky Hand
Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.