Get Seed Savvy: A Quick Guide to the Most Popular Kinds

by | Updated: December 3rd, 2016 | Read time: 3 minutes

I’m a big fan of small seeds – what they lack in stature they more than make up for in nutritional value, typically providing plenty of healthy fats, protein, fiber, energy, vitamins and minerals.

What’s more, seeds are easier to digest than nuts (another common source of healthy fats, protein and other nutrients) – and people like me who are allergic to nuts can often tolerate seeds. Good thing, because they can be used in place of nuts for many of my favorite recipes, including delicious smoothies, cookies, dressings, dips, and salads. Ground chia and flax seeds are great substitutes for eggs in baking as well!

chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds

Still not convinced? Here’s a breakdown of some of my favorite seeds:

Chia seeds:  Two tablespoons contain 6 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber. Chia seeds are also known for their healthy fat profile made of omega-3 ALA (alpha linoleic acid). ALA is not a complete omega-3 fat, however, the body can convert some ALA into active Omega-3 EPA but not DHA, which is what our bodies need to support brain health.

Chia seeds may be beneficial to normal bone health because they have calcium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium – all important nutrients for bone health.

Great for making chia pudding, thickening sauces or fruit jams.

Try this: Chocolate Chia Pudding for One

Flax seeds: Great source of soluble fiber with 4 grams per 2 tablespoon serving and 3 grams of protein. Flax seed can be made into a tea to help relieve constipation. Bring water to a boil, pour 6 ounces of hot water into a cup, add 1 tablespoon of whole flax seeds. Allow to steep for 30 minutes, strain seeds from tea and drink. It’s best to make this drink in the evening.

Add ground flax to a bowl of oatmeal in the morning along with fruit for a healthy dose of fiber and boost digestion if it’s feeling sluggish.

For an egg substitute: Mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax with 3 tablespoons of water, set aside for 5 minutes to gel. Add to baking recipes that call for 1 egg. Double this recipe to substitute for 2 eggs.

Try this: Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Muffins

Hemp seeds: Loaded with healthy fats, protein and high in calcium and iron, hemp seeds are insanely healthy and are easy to digest. Hemp seeds are also great for adding a creamy texture to sauces, without using milk or cream – plus, the calcium content of hemp seeds does a body good. (Happy news for those who are allergic to or choose not to consume dairy!)

Make a healthy dairy free pesto or give your smoothie a protein boost with hemp seeds.

Try this: Hemp Seed Pesto

Sunflower seeds: Many schools are now nut-free zones to protect kids with peanut allergies. Sunflower seeds and sunflower seed butter are a good substitute for peanuts and peanut butter, they have a pretty similar taste too. The nutritional profile for sunflower seeds is solid, offering up healthy fats, fiber and protein. They’re also a good source of iron.

Try this: Allergen-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin seeds: Popeye was known for his spinach, but he should have also reached for pumpkin seeds to get more iron. Pumpkin seeds contain about 15% DV for iron and magnesium per 1/4 cup serving, along with 9 grams of power-packed protein!

In addition to snacking on these seeds, you can make pumpkin milk by blending 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds with 1 cup water and 2 teaspoons honey or preferred sweetener.

Try this: Cacao-Maca Protein Balls

Pamela Higgins

Pam Higgins, Certified Health Coach, AADP received her credentials from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2010. Pam is the Founder of Total Health Counseling, LLC and She is a sensitive foodie and focuses on teaching clients about eating delicious food with pleasure. Pam will show you how to access your blueprint for healthy eating and lifestyle so you can be your best. Pam healed herself from years of chronic digestive and skin inflammation by accessing her own blueprint for healthy living and helps her clients find foods that nourish + balance their bodies. Pam lives in South Florida with her husband, Heman and dog, Cali. Contact Pam directly via email at