hemp seeds

Super Seeds: Hemp, Flax, Chia

Back in 2001, I really started to get serious about what I was eating. I came across an article in a bodybuilding magazine that was encouraging readers to eat flaxseeds. I had never heard of them before and started to do a little more research. Back then, I was primarily interested in getting huge.  Just getting my protein in was the main focus.  Eating seeds were not yet known to hold a lot of protein value. But little did I know that flaxseeds packed a nice muscle building punch.

The number of plant lignans, fiber, and omega-fatty acids proved that this “super seed” was a must if I wanted to not only build muscle but also improve my overall cellular health. So, I bought it and started eating flaxseeds and flaxseed oil from the ripe age of 20 years-old.

So fast forward many years and today, I consume 3 different “super seeds”: chia seed, flaxseed, and hemp seeds. These 3 “super seeds” provide the body with much-needed nutrients that we don’t typically consume in our regular diet. They are very versatile foods that can be used in many different ways. By consuming only a couple tablespoons each day, they can be hidden easily in foods like oatmeal, baked goods, and super shakes.

So, why are these seeds so super? Let’s take a look at why they are so beneficial.

Super Seed Overview

Flaxseeds are tiny, hard seeds, golden or brown; chia seeds are granular and dark in color, and hemp seeds are soft and light in color. Flaxseeds and chia seeds are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids (ALA). Hemp seeds are high in omega-6 essential fatty acids (LA and GLA), along with being high in protein. Flaxseeds are not digestible, so to reap the wonderful health benefits, the seeds must be ground into flax meal. Use a coffee grinder and grind up a week’s worth and store in the refrigerator. Do not buy flax meal already ground as it oxidizes quickly and loses its potency. Grinding chia and hemp is optional.

Along with being high in omega-3 fats, flax and chia seeds are high in fiber, antifungal, antibacterial, and can be added to a small glass of juice, your favorite smoothie, salad, or cereal. Hemp seeds have a nutty flavor and taste great. Take by the spoonful or added to your favorite salad.

Hempseed Snapshot

Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant but does not contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, so don’t worry about any side effects. Hemp is worldwide, one of the most widely utilized and diverse industrial crops. Its fibers are also considered the longest and most durable of all natural fibers, and can even be grown without deadly herbicides and pesticides.

It is rich in Gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA), which is a necessary building block for some prostaglandins — hormone-like chemicals in the body that help smooth muscles, control inflammation and body temperature, and are vital to other body functions. Researchers have surmised that GLA supplementation is necessary for proper hormone health.

Chia Seed Snapshot

First, chia seeds are a great source of Omega-3 ALA, dietary fiber, minerals, and has a high ORAC value (antioxidants). The antioxidant power of chia seeds can help skin repair and reduce inflammation and free radical damage.

Chia is super-high in fiber, providing nearly 11 grams per ounce. One serving can provide the recommended fiber intake for the day, according to the American Dietetic Association.

Chia seeds (salvia hispanica) have become one of the most popular superfoods in the health community. They’re easy to digest when prepared properly and a very versatile ingredient that adds easily to recipes. Plus, chia seeds benefits are plentiful.

The chia seed is nutrient-dense and packs a punch of energy-boosting power. Aztec warriors ate chia seeds to give them high energy and endurance. They said just one spoonful of chia could sustain them for 24 hours. Chia means “strength” in the Mayan language. Chia seeds, known as “runners’ food,”  were used by runners and warriors as fuel while running long distances or during battle.

Not only that, but recent research has found that the chia seeds benefits are even greater than we realized. Chia seeds benefits include promoting healthy skin, reducing signs of aging, supporting the heart and digestive system, helping reduce diabetes, building stronger bones and muscles, and more.

Flaxseed Snapshot

Flaxseeds contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids (although not the same type that fish, such as salmon, do) along with antioxidant substances called lignans that help promote hormonal balance in addition to several other benefits of flaxseed.

Benefits of flaxseed also include helping improve digestion, giving you clearer skin, lowering cholesterol, reducing sugar cravings, balancing hormones and even helping fight cancer.

Flaxseeds are small, brown, golden, or tan colored seeds loaded with fiber and key minerals manganese, thiamine, and magnesium. Flax also contains a significant source of plant-based protein.  Flax is one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, called alpha-linolenic acid (or ALA), in the world. Another great benefit to flax is that they are one of, if not the largest source of plant lignans in the human diet.

Flaxseeds have been shown to potentially lower cholesterol, lower heart disease due to its high amount of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) – a healthy source of polyunsaturated fat. One of its key benefits that are not talked about is its antioxidant powerhouse. The lignans in flax help reduce inflammation, free radical damage, and help balance hormones.

Lastly, flax is an amazing food that can help improve digestion. Many people do not get enough fiber, prebiotics, thus not producing enough good gut bacteria. Not having a well-rounded digestive system can lead to issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, increased inflammation, and a weaker immune system. the ALA in flax can help reduce inflammation and protect the lining of the GI tract. Flaxseed is beneficial for people suffering from Crohn’s disease and other digestive ailments. In addition, it promotes beneficial gut flora even in people with “normal” digestive systems. The fiber found in flaxseeds also provides food for friendly bacteria in your colon that can help cleanse waste from your system.

Summary of Benefits of Super Seeds
  • High in omega-3 fats
  • High fiber source
  • Supports heart health
  • Boosts cellular health
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Aids weight loss
  • Reduces food craving
  • Lowers risk of diabetes
  • Low expense
Recommended Serving
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons per day of each for adults, depending on goals, activity level, weight, etc.
  • 1 tablespoon per day for children.

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