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Recently deemed ‘nutritional powerhouses’ by health experts, particularly due to their high protein content, seeds are becoming an absolute must when it comes to healthy eating. You can sprinkle them on salads and cereals to add zing, or grind and mix them in batter when baking desserts or savouries.

Here are the four super seeds that will add a nutrient-packed punch to your diet:

1. Chia seeds are rich in magnesium and contain almost three times as much calcium as a glass of milk does, ensuring that your bones and teeth remain healthy, and keeps your blood pressure and sugar levels in check. Large quantities of Omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fibres lower triglyceride (bad fats) levels that can cause heart disease, and promote the burning of belly fat, which means chia seeds can help you say goodbye to love handles!

2. Flaxseeds contain alpha-linolenic acid that boosts vision and relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases, while large quantities of magnesium help build your stamina by improving muscle health. Recent research indicates that high doses of lignans (plant-based phytoestrogens) in flaxseeds can protect you from prostate, breast and bowel cancers.

3. Hemp seeds are chock-full of proteins and vitamins B and E that add gloss to your hair and a glow to your skin by promoting collagen production. If this is not enough, large quantities of Omega-6 fatty acids reduce joint inflammation among arthritic patients while boosting neural and cardiovascular health; phytosterols (plant-based compounds) keep your weight in check.

4. Sesame seeds are loaded with minerals, including copper, iron, phosphorus and zinc, that promote bone and muscle health, thereby delaying the onset of osteoporosis, while improving lung function among asthmatic patients. An excellent source of dietary protein, these seeds aid cell growth and regeneration, while folic acid and niacin (vitamin B compounds) prevent neural tube defects in newborns and reduce your anxiety and stress levels.

Dr Beenish Israr
The writer is lecturer of Food and Nutrition at University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan.

First published in the Health Advertiser Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on October 26, 2014.

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