Once seen as a delicacy to be eaten only on certain occasions, edible seeds are spreading into the culinary culture not only as a fine ingredient, but also as a nutrient-packed food. In short, it's flavorful and good for you, all in one: what better reason to deepen our knowledge about them from a scientific point of view? Obviously we are not referring to all seeds, which are so different from each other that one could fill books and books with descriptions, but the most common edible seeds: walnuts, almonds, flax, sunflower, sesame and their closest relatives.
From a biological point of view, the seed is the means of propagation of Spermatophyta plants, characterized by the presence of the seeds themselves. It is formed by converting a fertilized egg and usually develops on the mother plant. Usually, the seed is formed by three elements: the embryo, from which the plant then grows, nutritional tissue and integuments, i.e. the parts that protect the seed. From a culinary point of view, the element that interests us the most is the nutritive tissue. Rich in reserve substances, it is generally comprised of sugars, lipids and proteins. In addition, it also offers many minerals and trace elements such as iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and selenium, as well as vitamins (A, E, and some from the B group) and especially fats.
The benefits of nuts and seeds
Did you get scared over the word "fat"? You shouldn't, because we're talking about Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, namely those required to keep the heart, circulatory and immune system in shape. In fact, regularly eating seeds can offer numerous benefits. In addition to the heart, it is also good for intestinal health, helping to prevent colon cancer, as well as for the bones, due to the abundant presence of calcium. Have you been convinced as to the many benefits that seeds offer? Good. Now let's see which "super-seeds" are preferable.
The experts often speak of the "great six", which includes hemp, chia, pumpkin seeds, sesame, sunflower and flax. To these we must also add walnut, which, surprisingly, is not really a seed. The edible part contains both fruit and seed. This does not detract from its fabulous properties: a study conducted by the Universitat Rovira i Virgili de Terragona of 7,000 people both male and female aged 55 to 90 years, has shown that those who habitually consume nuts reduced their risk of cancer by 40% and cardiovascular disease by 55%. This is due to the very high content in Omega 3 and vitamins, in particular E, B2 and B9.
Lots of great seeds should never be missing from our diet, although you do need to follow some suggestions. First, try to use them raw, because when they come into contact with high heat, such as during toasting, they lose some of their nutritional properties. That's not all: toasting corresponds with rising salt levels, and there is no need to ruin the benefits for the heart with too much salt - aside from a delicious exception that we will see shortly. The best use of the seeds is in salads. Add them in abundance, mixing in those that we mentioned, and adding a good olive oil. In a salad like this, there is truly everything you need to give your health a boost. And tastefully! If every now and again you want to do something on a whim, here's a quick and easy recipe that's still healthy: throw a handful of seeds on a pre-heated pan, add a pinch of smoked salt, cayenne pepper and paprika and "toss". Serve hot in oiled paper cones to create a great appetizer to be served with an aperitif. You'll feel the goodness!