Quinoa, kale, acai … Every week it seems there’s a new superfood that promises to revolutionize your health. Unfortunately, many of these aren’t super cheap, so it’s tough to decide which ones are worth buying.
Well, if decreasing inflammation and achieving optimal health is a priority, which superfoods should you buy? Fresh fruits and veggies are a no-brainer. But you’ll also want to add superseeds like flax, chia, and hemp to your grocery list.
These anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense seeds are health-supportive and easy to find. If you’re looking to improve your health and shift to an anti-inflammatory diet, these seeds are worth the investment (even if a few get stuck in your teeth along the way).
Flaxseeds are small brown or golden seeds, and they’re some of the best sources of plant-based omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats are essential fatty acids that play a significant role in decreasing inflammation in the body.
Flaxseeds are also a tremendous source of lignans, or phytochemicals that have antioxidants properties, provide fiber, and help balance hormones.
Flax can easily be added to porridge, smoothies, salads, and baked goods. And bonus, they’re budget-friendly! But buyer, beware. Flax seeds cannot be digested whole. They must be ground up in order to absorb and benefit from their impressive list of nutrients.
You can buy ground flaxseed, but it’s easy to grind your own at home. An inexpensive coffee grinder does the trick.
Note: Be sure to store ground flaxseed in a dark, sealed container in the fridge and use within 7-10 days.
2. Chia seeds
Similar to flaxseeds, chia seeds are also a phenomenal source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, but are an even richer source of fiber. (They contain 11 grams of fiber in just 3 tablespoons). Chia seeds also provide complete protein and essential minerals like calcium and iron.
Unlike flax, chia seeds don’t need to be ground in order to enjoy their nutrients, and are less heat sensitive. Chia seeds are crunchy when eaten on their own, but transform completely when soaked in liquid like coconut milk. Chia pudding anyone?
3. Hemp seeds
Chia and flaxseeds have a lot more in common with each other than they do with hemp seeds. First, hemp seeds are comparatively low in fiber. They also provide more omega-6 than omega-3 fats, at a ratio of about 3-to-1.
Omega-6 fats are essential fatty acids as well, but are notoriously known as being pro-inflammatory. This might seem confusing, but our bodies need both omega-3 and omega-6. Balance is what’s important. Inflammation can get out of control when we consume too much omega-6, which is often the case with the standard Western diet.
Nutrient dense, whole foods with naturally occurring omega-6 fats, like hemp seeds, need not be avoided.
To twist the story a little more, hemp seeds are actually high in an immune-boosting omega-6 fat called gamma linoleic acid (GLA). GLA is regarded as a health supportive, anti-inflammatory nutrient.
Hemp seeds not only provide an ideal ratio of essential fatty acids, they are also a fantastic source of complete plant based protein, providing all nine essential amino acids. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds deliver 10 grams of protein.
Ready to try out these superseeds for yourself? Let’s get cooking.
Chia puddings are probably already taking over your Instagram feed. By soaking chia seeds, you can make an easy, no fuss, health supportive pudding.
Smoothies with superseeds are an easy way to add fiber, protein, minerals, and essential fatty acids to your morning.
- Everyday Superfood Green Smoothie from Rise Shine Cook
Make your baked goods good for you. Not only can you just toss a handful of these seeds into muffin, cookie, and cake batters, you can also use flax seeds to make plant-based egg substitutes. These vegan muffins use flax as the binder.
- Vegan Gluten-Free Blueberry Quinoa Muffins from Rise Shine Cook
Hemp seeds don’t absorb liquid like ground flax and chia. They can, however, lend creaminess to smoothies, sauces, and soups.
- Asparagus, leek, and hemp soup from Kara Lydon
Flax, chia, and hemp seeds are packed with health supportive nutrients, and can be used in interesting ways in the kitchen. Remember that essential fatty acids are delicate, and exposing them to high heat (like frying or boiling) can damage their health benefits. Try the above delicious recipes and start enjoying the huge amount of nutrients packed into these tiny seeds.
Ashley is a full-time food lover and self-professed health nut. She’s also a pharmacist, plant-based chef, and holistic nutritionist. Ashley is passionate about creating easy and delicious plant-based, gluten-free, and oil-free recipes, as well as sharing her expertise on everything food and health. Find her and her healthy recipes at RiseShineCook.ca