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 AmericaTaste: Mild, slightly nuttyUses: Cookies, salads, oatmeal, soups, yogurt, baked goodsNutritional Value: Contains the highest levels of total omega-3 fatty acids of any plant source, rich in fiber, protein, antioxidants, vitamins and mineralsHealth Benefits: Help control blood sugar levels, promote satiety, and slow the breakdown of carbohydratesFun 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: QuinoaOrigin: South AmericaTaste: Mild, slightly nuttyUses: Breakfast cereals, artisan-style breads, muffins, pizza crusts, bakery products, salads, meat-free burgers, vegan and vegetarian productsNutritional Value: Contains the highest protein levels of all the cereal grains, good source of magnesium, vitamin E, potassium and fiberHealth Benefit: Provides all of the essential amino acids for optimal healthFun Fact: The United Nations has declared 2013 the “International Year of Quinoa”

Seed: Flax Origin: Eastern Mediterranean to IndiaTaste: 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-allergiesNutritional Value: Source of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, essential amino acids, antioxidants, folate, vitamin B-6, magnesium potassium, and ironHealth Benefit: Easily digestibleFun Fact: The seed was valued as both a food and a medicine in ancient Mesopotamia 10,000 years ago

Seed: SunflowerOrigin: 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 moreNutritional Value: Contains polyunsaturated oilHealth Benefit: Weight managementFun Fact: Used by Native Americans as a high energy food source

Seed: HempOrigin: Central AsiaTaste: NuttyUses: Smoothies, sprinkled over salads, made into a flour and milk, added to puddings and other desserts, added to nutrition bars and moreNutritional Value: Contains nine of the essential amino acids, omega-3 and omega-6, magnesium iron, potassium, vitamin E, fiber and other nutrientsHealth Benefit: Very digestible, rarely causes bloating or gasFun Fact: Used as fuel, fiber, food and medicine for more than 5,000 years in Europe and Asia


About IFT For more than 70 years, IFT has existed to advance the science of food. Our nonprofit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professions from academia, government, and industry. For more information, please visit

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