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Three Seeds To Kickstart Your Health

by Stephanie J. Bradberry 21 days ago in health / wellness / self care
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Chia, Psyllium and Flax

Photo by: Sheila Pedraza Burk

There are three seeds that top my list of “go-to” for their numerous benefits. So, who are the winners? They would be psyllium, chia and flax seeds. As people keep looking for ways to add more nutrition to their meals, these seeds have gained in popularity. Part of this is due to the fact that psyllium, chia and flax seeds are easy to add to your diet. Many people use them as a supplement in place of over-the-counter remedies and a way to add fiber and protein. A little goes a long way with these natural gems.

Psyllium Seed Husks

Yes, you can eat psyllium seeds and/or psyllium seed husks. But I am going to focus on the husks. Psyllium seed husks are a good source of fiber. The added fiber and bulk in your gut can possibly aid with digestion. This in turn might help with intestinal issues like diarrhea and constipation. Also, the added bulk from eating psyllium seed husks makes you feel fuller while eating less. Therefore, people hail psyllium seed husks for being a good friend in weight loss.

Other benefits of this psyllium seed include help with managing glucose levels and high cholesterol. So if you struggle with high blood sugar and/or cholesterol, try adding psyllium seed husks to help alleviate these conditions.

Psyllium Seeds

Psyllium Seed Husks Flavor Profile and Uses

Because psyllium seed husks are tasteless, they are easy to add to your meals or drinks. Try adding psyllium seed husks to hot cereal, juice blends and smoothies. Be sure to watch the amount you add. Psyllium seed husks, especially in powder form expand in size when added to liquid. If you are not use to working with psyllium seed husk powder, add a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency. This might require some patience as full expansion of the husks takes a few minutes.

When adding psyllium seed husks to your meals, make sure you consume enough water to help it be a benefit rather than hinderance to your bowels. There is no flush without water!

Nutrition Per Tablespoon Of Psyllium Seed Husk

Calories: 20

Fat: 0g

Cholesterol: 0mg

Sodium: 10mg

Protein: 0.2g

Fiber: 5g

Chia Seeds

The popularity of chia seeds is constantly on the rise. Most people can only imagine chia in pet form (you know the seeds sprouting and covering a stone animal in “fur”). But these seeds that come in black and white varieties are much more than something you watch grow. Chia seeds are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Like psyllium and flax seeds, chia seeds add bulk to the intestinal tract, making you feel fuller during meal time. The additional bulk helps to flush your system. Think of it like a broom sweeping the sides of your digestional tract.

Chia seeds are also a good source of antioxidants. So if you need to fight free radicals or just combat toxins that can overload our bodies every day, turn to chia seeds. Another added benefit is that chia seeds can help regulate blood sugar, just like psyllium seed husks.

Chia Seeds

Chia Seed Flavor Profile and Uses

Chia seeds are tasteless, just like psyllium seed husks. If chia seeds have not been left to expand enough, they will be a bit crunchy in the center. Chia seeds can be used as an egg substitute and are gluten free. They are a great addition to your diet because they contain a lot of minerals, like calcium and magnesium. People often make chia pudding and cookies with chia seeds because of its gelatin-like consistency when exposed to liquid. Like psyllium seed husk powder, chia seeds will expand many times its original size. Be careful not to overload your liquid with chia seeds. Otherwise, you will have a thick, gloopy mixture.

If you are using chia seed as a topping or coating, like sprinkling over salad, be sure you are drinking about eight ounces of water per teaspoon. Something needs to keep things moving. And if you do not consume enough liquid with your chia seeds, then you will end up with the opposite effect. Going to the bathroom will be a rough go.

As a side note, I love seeing how many products chia seeds are added to. I see it on the labels for granola bars, meat substitutes and egg replacers. If you are going to make a homemade version of these goodies, again, be sure you are drinking plenty of water with your treat or dish.

Nutrition Per Tablespoon Of Chia Seed

Calories: 68.5

Fat: 4.5g

Cholesterol: 0mg

Sodium:0mg

Carbohydrates: 6g

Protein: 2.3g

Fiber: 5.5g

Flax Seeds

A few years ago I said flax seeds were probably the most widely known and used, in general, of the three seeds listed here. However, with so much creativity of people looking for grain, dairy and egg substitutes, I think chia seeds are now the most popular of these three. But that in no way diminishes flax seed’s place in my heart or stomach.

Flax seeds are yet another great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. But in addition, flax seeds contain lignans, which are a source of estrogen and antioxidants. Just like psyllium and chia seeds, flax seeds are a wonderful source of fiber. As we know, fiber helps to add bulk to your intestinal tract and flush our system. For these reasons, flax seeds are also seen as helping with weight loss and intestinal issues. As if that’s not enough, flax seeds have the potential to reduce the risk of cancer, strokes and heart disease.

Flax Seeds

Flax Seed Flavor Profile and Uses

Unlike psyllium and chia seeds, flax seeds do have a slightly nutty taste. Perhaps this is why they have lost favor in consumer products. People often toast flax seeds to bring out the flavor more. Flax seeds come in golden and dark brown varieties. The key to getting all the benefits from flax seeds is to make sure you chew them well. You must break the seed coating to release all the nutrients.

You can buy flax seeds already ground, but make sure it has not been sitting around too long and that is has been kept in a cool, and preferably dark, location. If your flax seeds smell a little fishy, then they are spoiled. To avoid a costly mishap, keep an eye on your flax seeds. Your best bet is to keep them in the refrigerator, especially if you use them infrequently.

I personally use flax seeds from everything from food to hair care products. Of all three seeds, flax seeds tend to go rancid the fastest. There is something about the protein in flax seeds that just breaks down faster than chia and psyllium seed husks. When I make flax seed gel, I know it is too ripe (I didn’t use it quick enough) when it starts smelling like aged meat.

Nutrition Per Tablespoon Of Flax Seed

Calories: 55

Fat: 4.3g

Cholesterol: 0mg

Sodium: 3mg

Carbohydrates: 3g

Fiber: 2.8g

Protein: 1.9g

Things to Keep in Mind

As with any supplement, too much of a good thing could end up not so good. If you are taking one of these seeds to help with constipation, then not drinking enough water could lead to more constipation. You always want a general ratio of one teaspoon of seeds to eight ounces of liquid.

Be sure to use all the seeds above with discretion. Contact your physician to see if there could be any complications based on your personal health. For example, seeds are not a great idea for individuals with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

Stephanie Bradberry is an herbalist, naturopath and health consultant. She focuses on meeting unique health and wellness needs naturally.

This information is for educative and personal use only. This information does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies might have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, please consult with a qualified provider. Please contact your primary physician before making major changes to your diet.

Sources

Bjarnadottir, A. (2019, March 28). Flax Seeds 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/flaxseeds.

FoodData Central. (n.d.). https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/.

Gunnars, K. (2018, August 8). 11 Proven Health Benefits of Chia Seeds. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2.

Hendricks, J. (2018, December 14). Nutrients in Psyllium Husks. Healthy Eating | SF Gate. https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/nutrients-psyllium-husks-11944.html.

Krans, B. (2019, April 22). Health Benefits of Psyllium. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/psyllium-health-benefits#weight-loss.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, November 14). Flaxseed and flaxseed oil. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-flaxseed-and-flaxseed-oil/art-20366457.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, January 6). How to add more fiber to your diet. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983.

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About the author

Stephanie J. Bradberry

I have a passion for literature and anime. And I love everything involving academia, health, metaphysics and entrepreneurship. During my free time I enjoy nature, crocheting, reading, romping with my kiddos, oh and writing!

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