Seeds are hugely beneficial for health, but it is important to know how to eat them.
There are 3 ways that you can eat seeds for best effect:
It’s almost impossible to grind small, hard seeds with your teeth so the help of a pestle and mortar or a seed grinder is essential to get the most out of harder seeds such as linseed/flax and chia seeds.
The human digestive system doesn’t have the capacity to break down these hard seeds once they leave the mouth and unless they are broken down you won’t be getting the benefit of the essential fatty acids they contain or other nutrients. The only benefit hard seeds will have if swallowed whole is to act tiny scrubbing brushes to help clean the digestive system.
A huge disadvantage of eating hard seeds whole is that they will absorb water from your digestive tract, causing the seeds to swell. Unless you are drinking enough water to counteract this absorption of water the seeds could then block the digestive system causing constipation. Some people also get stomach upset or pains from eating seeds and this could be because of the phytic acid rather than a problem with the seed itself. See soaking to find out more.
Grinding the seeds allows the essential fatty acids to be released during the digestive process. Grinding could be your best solution if you want to add seeds to your porridge, salad or soup.
Always grind seeds yourself and only enough to last for 2-3 days as the nutrient value quickly falls when the seed is ground, and the oils can easily turn rancid. If you are grinding seeds for more than one day then the extra seeds should be stored in a glass container in the fridge.
Soaking seeds is a way of mimicking nature as it prepares the seed for growth. Seeds are produced in autumn but will not grow until the Spring, so the seed needs to be protected through the wet conditions of winter. In order to do this the seed is coated with enzyme inhibitors that in nature are slowly washed away over the winter. If you have ever had an upset stomach after eating seeds it is likely to be the indigestible enzyme inhibitor that has caused the problem and so soaking is essential.
Small seeds can be soaked in water for about 6 hours in order to remove the enzyme inhibitors and the soak water should be thrown away. Large seeds like almonds need 8 – 24 hours to completely remove enzyme inhibitors. Some sources suggest adding salt or lemon juice or vinegar to the water to speed up the process, but I just use plain water.
Hard seeds like linseed/flax and chia will absorb a lot of the soak water and turn into a gelatinous texture. This makes these seeds ideal for making seed porridge, chia puddings or making a substitute for eggs.
Nuts or larger seeds can be dried following soaking and then ground or eaten whole as they will now be much easier to eat.
Once the seeds have been soaked they should be eaten immediately, moved into the sprouting stage, dried in a dehydrator or stored in the fridge for no more than 2-3 days. Soaked seeds are now no longer protected from mould and if left in a damp environment mould will quickly develop.
Ultimately nature produces a seed in order to grow a new plant. When the seed first sprouts it contains a huge amount of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients – just what that little seed needs to grow into a big strong plant. All these nutrients are highly concentrated compared to eating fully grown vegetables. Here are some other benefits:
- Sprouts are low in calories and rich in fibre, enzymes, protein, and other micro-nutrients.
- Sprouts are easy and cheap to grow
- Sprouting can increase the nutrient value of a seed by 20 times or more
- Vitamin, such as A, B, C and E, and essential fatty acids increase in sprouting and minerals bind to protein, making them more easily absorbed
- Sprouts alkalize the body. Illness thrives in an acidic body, so it is hugely beneficial to eat sprouts both to protect from disease and in any protocol to reverse an existing disease
- Sprouts are beneficial as part of a weight loss programme as they will provide all the nutrients that you need hence helping you to feel fuller for longer.
Sprouted seeds can be harvested just before you need them to ensure that they remain at their best and will continue to grow. They are at their most nutritious when young so don’t leave them too long. The length of time will depend on the type of seed and growing method. We need the nutrients from seeds every day for the Essential Fatty Acids and using a combination of methods for eating them is the ideal way to get the maximum nutrient value.
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