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Four Healthy and Delicious Seeds Worth Snacking On

Have you ever been caught in a traffic jam, on a delayed flight, or in an incredibly long meeting, all while feeling starved because you had to miss your breakfast or lunch hour?

Of course you have! We've all been in fixes where we're hungry and have nothing to satisfy our appetites -- sometimes even when we're in our own kitchens, yet "nothing looks good."

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds start out black or grey in color (sometimes with stripes). You can purchase them with the shells on, but they're widely available already shelled, which gives you the edible, inner kernel without any of the trouble!

Well, we have here some incredibly simple, satisfying and healthy snacks that will fill you up in a good way, and, get this, they're all seeds!

All of the seeds below make excellent "right out of the bag" snacks, but you can also mix them with some shredded coconut, dried fruit (raisins, mango, cranberries, cherries, pineapple, you name it), raw nuts and even a handful of dark chocolate chips for a healthy trail mix (kids love this!) that you can take with you anywhere.

Seeds are also great stirred into yogurt or cottage cheese, or sprinkled on salads, but don't underestimate their "stand-alone" value. All of the seeds below are delicious and definitely worth snacking on. (Ideally, eat them raw to get the most nutritional benefits.)

1. Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are tiny but they have a big nutty flavor. They're loaded with beneficial minerals including copper, magnesium and calcium (they're actually one of the best food sources of calcium out there!).

These seeds also contain protein, iron, phosphorous, vitamin B1, zinc and fiber, along with lignans, beneficial fibers that may help to lower your cholesterol and have been shown to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E in animals. Plus, sesame seeds contain a substance called sesamin, which may protect your liver from oxidative damage.

Sesame seeds also have the highest phytosterol content of all the nuts and seeds commonly eaten in the United States, according to a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Phytosterols are plant compounds that may reduce your cholesterol, enhance your immune system and even decrease your risk of certain cancers.

2. Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds have a subtle nutty flavor and a tender texture, plus they're loaded with the antioxidant vitamin E and beneficial phytosterols.

They're also full of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, protein, zinc and selenium. Selenium has been found to help repair damaged cells in your body and inhibit the spread of cancer cells. Just a quarter cup of sunflower seeds gives you almost 31 percent of the recommended daily value for this healthy nutrient!

Alive in 5: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes

Love seeds? Want recipes? Alive in 5: Raw Gourmet Meals in Five Minutes has the raw seed recipes you crave, plus a host of other tasty raw food dishes that can be prepared in just a few minutes!

3. Pumpkin Seeds

Who can resist the sweet, nutty flavor and chewy texture of pumpkin seeds? These nutrition powerhouses contain magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, iron, copper, protein, omega-3 fats, carotenoids and zinc.

Like other seeds, pumpkin seeds also contain beneficial phytosterols, along with compounds that may promote prostate health in men.

Animal studies have even shown that pumpkin seeds have anti-inflammatory properties, and adding them to the diet has a similar effect on reducing inflammatory symptoms as using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs!

Pumpkin seeds have also been used traditionally to remove parasites from your body and treat urinary tract infections.

4. Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are sometimes referred to as the world's most nutritious seeds. They contain protein, essential fatty acids and fiber, are rich in antioxidants, such as vitamin E, and contain minerals, including magnesium, iron and zinc.

They also have a high content of phytosterols that may help:

  • Promote heart health

  • Reduce the risk of cardiac arrest

  • Maintain normal cholesterol levels

  • Treat certain cancers, including colon, breast and prostate

  • Delay the neurologic effects of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases

  • Treat rheumatoid arthritis

  • Prevent and treat osteoporosis

  • Reduce inflammation

  • Treat atopic eczema and psoriasis

And don't worry, hemp seeds won't get you high. Whereas marijuana contains about 5 percent to 20 percent THC (the compound that produces the "high" associated with marijuana), hemp has a maximum limit of three-tenths of 1 percent, which is not nearly enough to produce any psychotropic effects.

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