Consuming the right amount of unsaturated fatty acids can be quite a challenge for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy and considered essential, crucial for brain growth and development. A very good source of these fatty acids are edible seeds, and including them in your diet can protect you from illnesses and boost your immunity.
Edible seeds are rich in nutrients and include all legumes, grains and nuts. They are part of the seed portion of the plant, and are in season throughout the year. They’re easy to store, and are great sources of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
“Sunflower seeds are rich in N6 fatty acids,” says dietician Pooja Makhija from Clay Wellness, Bandra. The benefits of these seeds are manifold as they are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and other antioxidants. “They can be sprinkled over cereals, salads and soups, mixed with vegetables, used on desserts, or eaten as a snack,” says nutritionist Leena Mogre. Flax seeds also have a fortifying effect when given to patients of prostrate cancer.
“They cleanse the digestive system, and clear the skin of acne, pimples and pores,” Makhija says. Oilseeds include poppy seeds and sesame seeds. “Poppy seeds (khus-khus) are rich in calcium and play a vital role in strengthening the bones. They are especially beneficial for those who suffer from osteoporosis and women who have reached menopause,” says nutritionist Mehar Panjwani.
Sesame seeds (
seeds) contain high amounts of iron and zinc. They help ward off respiratory infections like flu, cold and cough. “Sesame seeds also have a high copper content, which helps ease the pain and swelling associated with rheumatoid arthritis. They are a rich source of mono and polyunsaturated fats, and help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system,” Mogre says.
Vegetarians who don’t get enough proteins through their diet need to consume nuts and oilseeds with their regular food. An easy way to include these nuts is to use them in the form of oil, which also doubles as a healthy way to cook.
“Fenugreek seeds can diminish reactive hyperglycaemia in diabetic patients,” Mogre says. “The liquorice flavoured fennel seed is known to relieve digestive stomach upsets.” Moreover, they help reduce hunger and are effective in treating coughs, sore throats and respiratory ailments.