Seeds 101: Everything You Want to Know

Released: 11/15/2012 3:00 PM EST
Source Newsroom: Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)
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Newswise — CHICAGO—Edible seeds can play an important part in the human diet, not only because they’re nutritious, but they can also add appearance, texture and taste to a variety of foods. In the November issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Senior Writer Don Pszczola writes about the versatility, nutritional value and health benefits of seeds.

Seed: Chia
Origin: Mexico, Central America
Taste: Mild, slightly nutty
Uses: Cookies, salads, oatmeal, soups, yogurt, baked goods
Nutritional Value: Contains the highest levels of total omega-3 fatty acids of any plant source, rich in fiber, protein, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
Health Benefits: Help control blood sugar levels, promote satiety, and slow the breakdown of carbohydrates
Fun Fact: When added to water, Chia seeds can swell to 12 times their weight in liquid and create a gel that could be used as an alternative to eggs and some oils in recipes

Seed: Quinoa
Origin: South America
Taste: Mild, slightly nutty
Uses: Breakfast cereals, artisan-style breads, muffins, pizza crusts, bakery products, salads, meat-free burgers, vegan and vegetarian products
Nutritional Value: Contains the highest protein levels of all the cereal grains, good source of magnesium, vitamin E, potassium and fiber
Health Benefit: Provides all of the essential amino acids for optimal health
Fun Fact: The United Nations has declared 2013 the “International Year of Quinoa”

Seed: Flax
Origin: Eastern Mediterranean to India
Taste: Mild, nutty
Uses: Soups, salads, stews, hamburgers, hot and cold cereals, chilies, sauces and dips, fruit smoothies, cookies, muffins and bread dough, dairy-free milk product for people with lactose-allergies
Nutritional Value: Source of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, essential amino acids, antioxidants, folate, vitamin B-6, magnesium potassium, and iron
Health Benefit: Easily digestible
Fun Fact: The seed was valued as both a food and a medicine in ancient Mesopotamia 10,000 years ago

Seed: Sunflower
Origin: North America
Taste: Mild
Uses: Baked goods such as bagels, muffins, multigrain breads, and in trail mixes, hot breakfast cereals, coated in chocolate for confectionary applications, sprinkled in yogurt or on salads, and much more
Nutritional Value: Contains polyunsaturated oil
Health Benefit: Weight management
Fun Fact: Used by Native Americans as a high energy food source

Seed: Hemp
Origin: Central Asia
Taste: Nutty
Uses: Smoothies, sprinkled over salads, made into a flour and milk, added to puddings and other desserts, added to nutrition bars and more
Nutritional Value: Contains nine of the essential amino acids, omega-3 and omega-6, magnesium iron, potassium, vitamin E, fiber and other nutrients
Health Benefit: Very digestible, rarely causes bloating or gas
Fun Fact: Used as fuel, fiber, food and medicine for more than 5,000 years in Europe and Asia

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