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Nature’s Powerhouses

You might be awestruck when you consider that a tiny seed contains all the nutrients needed to grow into a unique and often large plant – no wonder seeds are known as nature’s powerhouses!

Seeds are an excellent source of protein and are very rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre, essential fats and other phytochemicals that help prevent most of today’s chronic Western diseases.  Due to their high fibrous content, plenty of water needs to be drunk when eating them to avoid any possible digestive problems occurring.

Flaxseeds have been eaten by humans since the beginning of civilisation.  Even before 5,000 BC Egyptians used flaxseeds medicinally.  Later on, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, wrote that ‘ flaxseeds were used for abdominal pain relief’.  In the 18th century, Emperor Charlemagne was so impressed by the medicinal, culinary and fibrous qualities of this tiny seed that he passed a law requiring it to be comsumed!

Both brown and golden flaxseeds are rich in alpha linolenic acid (ALA) which is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.

They are also a good source of folic acid, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and phyto-oestrogens and are known to enhance gut flora.

A trial comparing flaxseed oil and sunflower seed oil on platelet composition and function showed that flaxseed oil offers greater protection against cardiovascular disease.  Another interesting study comparing flaxseeds with other phytoestrogen foods showed that flaxseeds were able to modify oestrogen metabolism to a greater extent in postmenopausal women.

These encouraging results indicate that flaxseeds may be protective against oestrogen-dominant health problems.

Pumpkin seeds were native to American Indians who were first to recognise their dietary and medicinal properties.  The European explorers then brought them back and began to cultivate them.  Today pumpkin seeds are still a componenet in many Mexican dishes.  Pumpkin seeds are particularly rich in zinc, manganese, carotenoids and vitamin K making them known for their bone-protective and immune-boosting properties.

Sesame seeds are thought to have originated in India and been brought to the UK from Africa during the late 17th century.  They come in lots of different colours including white, yellow, black and red.  Sesame seed butter (better known as tahini) is a staple food in the Middle East.

They are rich in copper which helps relieve rheumatoid arthritis and calcium which helps prevent colon cancer, osteoporosis, migraines and PMS

Sesame seeds should be avoided in people with compromised kidneys due to their calcium oxalate content.

Sunflower seeds are thought to have originated in Mexico and Peru more that 5,000 years ago.  These seeds are particularly rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, selenium and glutathione peroxidise, a very powerful antioxidant enzyme vital for liver detoxification.

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