Support Your Health With These Four Seeds
Seeds are the starting point for most plants and contain densely packed nutrients, making them a great source of complex nutrition. Not only are seeds an excellent source of fiber, but they also provide a long list of beneficial nutrients, including minerals, vitamins, and phytosterols, polyphenols, and additional antioxidants that protect plant DNA from oxidative stress.
Many studies support that increased consumption of seeds can lower one’s cardiovascular disease risk. In a 2014 study examining the relationship between seed consumption and cardiovascular health, the researchers concluded, “There is substantial evidence that increased consumption of seeds … is associated with … a significant reduction in [cardiovascular disease] factors such as serum cholesterol or blood pressure” .
This article will review four seeds that you can add to your daily diet to support your health.
Flaxseed is a potent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fat, and lignans and fiber. Research has noted that these benefit animals and humans through their anti-inflammatory properties . In animal studies, dietary flaxseed decreased atherosclerosis progression caused by cholesterol or high trans fat intake. Flaxseed has also been seen to regress atherosclerosis even with well-established atherosclerotic plaque . These effects are likely due to the seed’s potent and highly bioavailable levels of ALA.
In one study, researchers conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial where patients (110 in total) consumed either 30g of flax or a placebo daily over six months . At six months, patients’ plasma levels of ALA in the flaxseed group increased 2- 50-fold but did not significantly change in the control group. On average, patients’ blood pressure in the flaxseed group decreased between 10-15 SBP (top number) and about 7 DBP (bottom number). The researchers concluded, “In summary, flaxseed induced one of the most potent antihypertensive effects achieved by a dietary intervention.” .
Researchers conducted a systematic review and associated flaxseed with decreased breast cancer risk and mortality risk in another study. The seed prevented tissue growth in women at risk of breast cancer .
Additional studies have found flaxseed to heal arteries, support an individual’s healthy weight by either managing or reducing an overweight person’s weight, protect against ovarian cancer, and even help individuals with carpal tunnel syndrome because of the seed’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects [5-8].
Nigella Sativa (aka Black Seed)
I have extensively reviewed the benefits of black seed and black seed oil, and its use dates back millennia when it was placed in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. The seed’s benefits appear to be boundless, as research has found it can benefit every type of person, ranging from those with type-2 diabetes or high blood pressure to those with asthma, infections, or epilepsy [9-18].
Nigella sativa has anti-bacterial activity against clinical isolates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA or Staph infection) .
A study examining its effects in patients with type-2 diabetes concluded, “the results of this study indicate that a dose of 2 gm/ day of Nigella sativa might be a beneficial adjuvant to oral hypoglycemic agents in type 2 diabetic patients” .
A controlled trial investigated its therapeutic effects in children with epilepsy and found that the average frequency of seizures decreased significantly during treatment with black seed extract. The researchers concluded that black seed has antiepileptic effects in children with refractory seizures .
Finally, in a human study, researchers found that the daily use of black cumin seeds for two months may have a blood pressure-lowering effect in patients with mild high blood pressure, and no complications were observed .
Hemp seed is a newer seed that is rising in popularity. They are tiny and versatile seeds with a creamy, nutty taste and can be integrated in cereals, granola, salad dressings, desserts, and many other foods. Hemp seeds are also rich in easily digestible proteins, contain a perfect balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, and provide numerous essential amino acids and antioxidants.
Research has shown that hemp seeds have many benefits, including supporting hair, skin, and nail nourishment, fighting dryness and inflammatory conditions such as eczema, exhibiting anti-rheumatoid arthritis properties, and providing an abundance of fiber, brain-nourishing omega-3s, and minerals such as iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc  .
Finally, chia, or Salvia hispanica L., originated in Mexico and Guatemala and served as an integral part of the human diet for about 5,500 years . Chia seed was traditionally used by Aztecs and Mayans in preparing folk medicines and food and canvases. Today, this seed can be found everywhere, from water and juices to salads and stir-fry to pancakes.
Chia seed is a rich source of the polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 and soluble dietary fiber. Chia also has exceptional levels of protein and phytochemicals . Its nutritional profile is why chia is researched for addressing numerous prevalent non-infectious conditions, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
For example, a 2010 study examined the seed’s effects on postprandial glycemia and prolonging satiety and concluded that these favorable effects potentially explain improvements in blood pressure, coagulation and inflammatory markers previously observed after 12-week chia supplementation in Type 2 diabetic subjects .
Flax, black, hemp, and chia seeds offer numerous health benefits. These seeds can easily be integrated into one’s diet, especially if combined into a smoothie with fresh fruit, vegetables, and protein. These seeds illustrate how a proper diet can elevate one’s standard of health and, in the long-term, help prevent chronic diseases.
 Zohary, D., & Hopf, M. (2000). Domestication of plants in the old world (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.