Seeds Sprouting Up as Part of Healthy Diet

Seeds Sprouting Up as Part of Healthy Diet

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TWIN FALLS • Do you feel the need to add a little seed?

Gillian Funk of Kimberly started adding more seeds to her daily diet three years ago. Funk said the benefits for her weren’t so much at her waistline, but how she felt inside.

“I’ve always been healthy and into fitness,” Funk said. “In changing my diet to ‘clean eating’ with the seeds I have less digestive issues and more energy.”

She is so convinced that people need more seeds in their diet that her pantry is stocked with them.

And Funk isn’t the only one who has unshelled the appeal of seeds.

At the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, seeds were among the top five food trend categories for 2013 according to a panel of food writers and journalists.

The Fancy Food Shows are held twice each year with the Winter Show in San Francisco and the Summer Show in New York City. Put on by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, the events bring in more than 40,000 attendees from more than 80 countries and regions to see 260,000 innovative specialty food products.

Because seeds have improved her health, Funk, a personal trainer at the YMCA of Twin Falls, tells her clients about the benefits of eating them.

“Chia seeds are so good with weight loss. When you add them to salads they help you stay full longer,” Funk said. “They (seeds) are such a good source for protein. More people are becoming aware of their benefits.”

Interested in learning more about the benefits of seeds?

Here are some of the seeds Funk and others in the Magic Valley carry in their pantry and why.

Flax Seeds

“Thanks to my mother I found out that you get the most out of your flax when it is ground up,” Funk said. “That way your body can absorb the nutrients easier, makes sense. But I still throw the whole seeds in oatmeal and salads, you still get that good fiber.”

Funk said flax is high in omega-3, a fatty acid, which she said means it’s great for bone health and protecting against heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Emily Hosman of Buhl uses flax daily. Hosman is a student at Brigham Young University studying exercise science with an emphasis in wellness and science. She also represents Twin Falls in the Miss America Organization as Miss Canyon Rim. Hosman said she started to use flax seed after learning she had Candidiasis, a fungal infection caused by yeasts that she said had made it difficult for her to lose weight.

“It’s really common and there’s a lot of women who have it, but don’t know it,” Hosman said.

Since incoporating flax into her diet, Hosman said she has lost weight.

She said flax seed is a low carb, high protein, nutrient dense food that she incorporates into her meals all the time now.

“It has a fairly neutral taste,” Hosman said.

She likes to mix flax seed in her peanut butter and vanilla shakes.

Hosman also uses flax meal because she often craves bread. Instead of milk she uses flax milk, which Hosman said tastes like watered-down milk.

Eric Snow, fitness director at the YMCA, uses flax gel as an egg substitute. Snow will take two or three teaspoons of ground flax and add a couple of teaspoons of water to make a gel. Snow said this can be used as a binder or emulsifier in recipes like pancakes or waffles.

Sesame Seeds

Funk said just a quarter-cup of sesame seeds supplies 74 percent of the daily value for copper, which is known for reducing inflamation and pain in joints and for soothing rhematoid arthiritis.

Sesame seeds also supply 31.6 percent of the daily value of magnesium,which supports vascular and respiratory health, and 35.1percent of calcium.

“Wow, who knew that little seed would back that sort of punch?” Funk said.

Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds

Eric Snow said he eats pumpkin seeds daily, in addition to hemp and chia seeds.

“I will eat a handful of almonds, the nuts and seeds are high in protein,” Snow said.

For a vegan like Snow, finding alternative sources of protein is essential.

Funk said when she eats pumpkin and sunflower seeds she buys them raw and unsalted with no oils.

She makes them into what she calls Gilly’s Seed Bar, a seed bar recipe she created that combines pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax and chia seeds.

Chia Seeds

Marsha Low of Twin Falls was introduced to the benefits of seeds through the YMCA and one of Funk’s classes.

“She showed us in her weekly ‘Lose It’ class how great they can be when added to your daily diet. I believe they have been beneficial in helping me lose weight,”Low said.

Low puts flax seed in things like oatmeal, homemade smoothies and yogurt.

“All the omega-3’s and other benefits to using seeds are great,” she said.

Funk said chia seeds are her new favorite seed.

“They take on the taste of whatever you put them in and they have a unique ‘gelling’ action once wet so they expand and keep you full for a long time,” Funk said.

Chia gel can substitute for half the butter in most recipes, according to Funk. She said the food will bake and taste the same.

“It’s loaded with soluble and insoluble fibers. Chia is the richest plant-source of omega-3,” Funk said. “It’s actually a complete protein. The seed is full of antioxidants.”

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