Black Seed/Nigella sativa
Black seed, specifically the oil, was an ancient healing remedy for a variety of diseases. In modern day medicine, studies are showing that an extract from the seed called Thymoquinone can cause cancer cells to kill themselves in lab studies. Whether the same results hold for live animal or human studies still remains to be seen. In lab studies though (petri dish) it killed cervical cancer cells. Thymoquinone was shown in animal studies to work better than fluticasone for asthma. In human studies, it was shown that boiled extract of black seed helped open the airways of those with asthma.
In human studies, two grams of black seed a day lowered fasting blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics, decreased insulin resistance, increased beta cell production and lowered A1c levels. It also lowered blood pressure when black seed extract was taken at 100-200 mg.
- Gali-Muhtasib H, Diab-Assaf M, Boltze C, et al. Thymoquinone extracted from black seed triggers apoptotic cell death in human colorectal cancer cells via a p53-dependent mechanism. International Journal Of Oncology. October 2004;25(4):857-866.
- Hasan T, Shafi G, Alshatwi A, et al. Methanolic extract of Nigella sativa seed inhibits SiHa human cervical cancer cell proliferation through apoptosis. Natural Product Communications [serial online]. February 2013;8(2):213-216.
Cardamom is a wonderful smelling seed and spice that’s a close cousin to both Ginger and Turmeric. This seed is what gives Chai tea its distinct taste and smell. You can add it to your tea or when you make coffee as well. It even works very well with warm milk. It’s used extensively in Indian cuisine and makes a great ingredient in baked goods to boost the flavor. Cardamom is a pungent herb yet has a sweet and spicy taste to it with a hint of vanilla. It can help boost your mood by helping to fight off depression and give you a natural energy boost without the use of caffeine. It may also help soothe symptoms of asthma and bronchitis. Cardamom works great for digestion and it helps get rid of bad breath when you chew on it after eating.
1. Pant, Rashmi. “Different Phases of Women’s Depression and its Treatment:-A Broad Overview.” Quest-The Journal of UGC-ASC Nainital 6.3 (2012): 527-536.
2. Sandhu, Davinder S., and Michael Heinrich. “The use of health foods, spices and other botanicals in the Sikh community in London.” Phytotherapy Research 19.7 (2005): 633-642.
3. Fotedar, S., and V. Fotedar. “Cardamom and oral health.” European Journal of General Dentistry 3.1 (2014): 86.
Chia Seeds ★
Chia seeds are packed with Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s are great because they are very good at reducing inflammation throughout the body as well as the brain. The seeds contain more Omega 3’s than Omega 6’s. Omega 6 fatty acids function in a similar way as Omega 3’s as long as they are in relatively low amounts in the body. Click here to read more about the relationship between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
The downside to the Omega 3’s in Chia seeds is that the Omega 3’s are mostly in ALA form. ALA stands for Alpha Linolenic Acid. The kind of Omega 3’s we need are EPA and DHA fatty acids, which stands for Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid. Our bodies are not very good at converting ALA’s into EPA and DHA. However, even though much of the Omega 3 can’t be used by our bodies, some of it will. On top of that, Chia seeds still have plenty of health benefits. Click here to read more about the nutritional content.
The oils in the seeds are great for your skin. The seeds contain up to 5 times more calcium than milk and has about 4.5 grams of protein per serving and 11 grams of fiber per serving. Even the fiber content has been overlooked since 2-3 servings of Chia seeds (approx 2-3 ounces) contains nearly 100% of the fiber you need for the day.
When you eat the seeds and they mix with water, the seeds absorb it and expand, which makes you feel full. This is why they can make a great weight loss food.
- Jeong S, Park H, Park B, Kim I. Effectiveness of Topical Chia Seed Oil on Pruritus of End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Patients and Healthy Volunteers. Annals Of Dermatology. May 2010;22(2):143-148.
- Nieman D, Cayea E, Austin M, Henson D, McAnulty S, Jin F. Chia seed does not promote weight loss or alter disease risk factors in overweight adults. Nutrition Research (New York, N.Y.) [serial online]. June 2009;29(6):414-418.
- Illian T, Casey J, Bishop P. Omega 3 Chia seed loading as a means of carbohydrate loading. Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research / National Strength & Conditioning Association [serial online]. January 2011;25(1):61-65
Fennel Seeds ★★
Fennel seeds are one of the best things to take for any gas and bloating. You can make a tea out of the seeds by just adding hot water to 1 teaspoon or so of seeds. You can strain out the seeds after a few minutes or just leave them. Many cultures around the Mediterranean and eastward sometimes chew some seeds after eating to help with digestion and freshen their breath. Fennel can be grown in most places in the U.S so you can plant some Fennel in your garden and harvest the seeds yourself. It’s also very safe for children and it can help them with digestive problems, gas and spasms. They are also a solid cancer fighter and anti inflammatory food since it contains vitamins E, C and some polyphenol antioxidants.
Traditionally, fennel has been used by people in the Mediterranean to relieve menstrual cramps and PMS. A recent study showed that it works quite well and also relatively quickly. Women in the study reported that women who reported a 6/10 on their level of pain reported a 4/10 about an hour later. Within 5 hours it was about 1 or 2/10. 52% reported the fennel treatment as excellent but only 8% of women reported it as excellent in the placebo group (they were given capsules filled with flour).
Another study done on 55 women also compared fennel extract to an NSAID (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) drug called mefenamic acid. This drug may be better than ibuprofen at relieving pain but it’s not over the counter. They wanted to see how well fennel worked against NSAIDs at relieving moderate to severe menstrual pain. 80% of the women who took fennel extract reported no pain compared to 73% of the women who took mefenamic acid. The women were taking 250 mg of fennel extract or mefenamic acid 4 times per day.
Fenugreek contains a range of vitamins and minerals. It has a majority of the vitamin B’s, which promote digestion and your energy levels. It also has a little bit of Vitamins A,C and E. The minerals it contains are manganese, copper, potassium, selenium and iron4.
There are at least two other uses for Fenugreek that do not have to do with your digestive system. The first is that it’s a natural booster of human-growth hormone (also known as HGH). You can add some of the leaves of the Fenugreek plant to hot water and drink it as a tea for this.
The second is that it can help get rid of dandruff. You can soak about two tablespoons of the seeds in water overnight and then grind them into paste and massage it into your scalp and let it sit for an hour. Then wash it out in the shower with shampoo and 1 tablespoon of lime juice with water 5,6.
There are several ways to add Fenugreek your diet. The most common ways are as a tea where you soak 1 or 2 teaspoons of seeds in water, or as a ground up spice, or as part of a Curry Powder mix. You can sprinkle some on your lunch, salad, meats, vegetables, snacks or dinner. It even works in yogurts.
- The Dr. Oz Show
- Khoja K, Shaf G, Alshatwi A, et al. Fenugreek, a naturally occurring edible spice, kills MCF-7 human breast cancer cells via an apoptotic pathway. Asian Pacific Journal Of Cancer Prevention: APJCP [serial online]. 2011;12(12):3299-3304.
- Kaviarasan S, Vijayalakshmi K, Anuradha C. Polyphenol-rich extract of fenugreek seeds protect erythrocytes from oxidative damage. Plant Foods For Human Nutrition (Dordrecht, Netherlands) [serial online]. 2004 Fall 2004;59(4):143-147.
- The Dr. Oz Show
One of Flax’s biggest contributions to our health is it’s fiber content. This is great because most Americans do not get the recommended 25-35 grams of fiber per day.
Flax is also a good source of Omega 3’s. However, it’s important to note that the Omega 3’s are in the ALA form (Alpha Linolenic Acid) and not the EPA form (Eicosapentaenoic acid) or DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) forms that our bodies can use. Our bodies can convert ALA into DHA but not very efficiently.
Flaxseeds also contain certain antioxidants called phytoestrogens. These chemicals can help women in at least two ways. It can block the reabsorbtion of estrogen into the gut, which can lower a woman’s risk for developing ovarian and other estrogen linked cancers like breast cancer. Lignans, a type of phytoestrogen, can also alter the way our bodies (both men and women) use estrogen so that it can be metabolized into a safer form.
The oil is called Flaxseed oil or Linseed oil. It contains the same benefits as the seeds but it does not have the fiber or the lignans so you may be better off with the flaxseeds themselves. You should grind them up when you eat them since eating the seeds whole makes them virtually indigestible. Pre-ground seeds get oxidized pretty fast and you end up losing a lot of the health benefits the longer it sits on the store shelf so grind up the seeds on your own using a coffee grinder. Eat about two teaspoons per day. It’s great with a bowl of oatmeal (which also has phytoestrogens), yogurt, or in pancake batter if you’re making pancakes. It can be a topping on your peanut or other nut butter sandwiches too.
Hemp Seeds ★
Hemp seeds have the most protein of all the seeds and nuts (per serving) we commonly eat. Most of the oils found in hemp seeds are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s).
Believe it or not, hemp seeds are excellent at helping you restore your brain cells. They can help boost your memory and help you remember things more easily. When we eat too much bad fats like saturated and trans fats it can break connections between our cells. Since hemp seeds have a hefty dose of poly and monounsaturated fats (PUFA’s and MUFA’s) they help restore our brain cells and the connections between them allowing us to recall our thoughts with less struggle. One of the major polyunsaturated fats in hemp seeds are Omega 3’s. Our brains are made up of fats so we need to provide it with healthy fats if we want to have a healthy brain.
Secondly, hemp seeds can give your mood a big boost by helping you get rid of stress and anxiety. Magnesium is vital because it helps regulate your nerves. When our magnesium levels are low we may feel sluggish or irritable. Hemp seeds help restore your magnesium levels and can give your energy and mood a boost. One serving of hemp seeds has about 50% of the magnesium you need per day.
You can get the benefits from hemp seeds in the forms of hemp milk, hemp seed oil, hemp cereal, hemp granola or simply hemp seeds. The species of hemp that’s sold in stores contains very little of the psychedelic compounds that can get you high so you can eat these seeds safely and enjoy all the health benefits from them.
Comes from Jujube fruits. It’s used as a sleep aid in China and it is used in Chinese herbal medicines. It’s generally found in tea form or as a powder to make tea. Use it about 1 hour before bedtime.
Mustard Seed ★★
Of the different types/colors of Mustard seeds out there, the brown Mustard seeds tend to have the most heath benefits. However, all of them can boost your metabolism by about 25% in 3 hours or so when you take 1 teaspoon of the seeds.1It is also a very strong anti microbial food, killing bacteria like E.coli in hamburger meats, listeria, which is another cause of food poisoning and Staphylococcus aureus (Staph infection).2 It’s important to note that the mustard we use as a condiment on things like burgers and hot dogs contains little if any of the compound in Mustard seeds responsible for these health benefits.
The seeds contain a compound called Allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) that also found in cruciferous Vegetables like Broccoli, Cauliflower and Mustard greens. This is primary compound that’s responsible for Mustard seed’s health benefits and it’s what gives the cruciferous vegetable their taste. This compound is also a cancer fighter. In one study done on rats, Mustard seeds were very successful at stopping bladder cancer tumors from growing and caused the cancer cells to die.3
- The Dr. Oz Show
- Bhattacharya A, Li Y, Wade K, Paonessa J, Fahey J, Zhang Y. Allyl isothiocyanate-rich mustard seed powder inhibits bladder cancer growth and muscle invasion. Carcinogenesis [serial online]. December 2010;31(12):2105-2110.
Pumpkin Seeds ★★
These seeds are one of the healthiest seeds you can eat. They have been shown to reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol. They can help with arthritis pains.
The seeds can help reduce your risk for cancer, specifically prostate cancer but also gastric, breast, lung and colon cancers too.
Pumpkin seeds can also help with reducing bladder pressure and can keep your blood sugar levels low.
The seeds are a great source of manganese, magnesium, iron, phosphorus copper and zinc. It’s also a good source of vitamin K, vitamin E and beta-carotene. The beta-carotenes in Pumpkin seeds also promote a healthy prostate. The high magnesium content helps lower your blood pressure and therefore reduces your risk for having a heart attack or stroke.
The zinc content can actually be beneficial for both men and women because zinc can increase testosterone levels. Women can benefit from this because some studies show that women with higher sex drives have higher testosterone levels. Zinc does this by blocking an enzyme that converts estrogen into testosterone.
Pumpkin seeds also contain an amino acid called tryptophan that the body can use to make a hormone called serotonin. This hormone can help bring down your stress levels and calm your mood. This can help you fall asleep if you have trouble sleeping or reduce your anxiety if you tend to suffer from anxiety disorders.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of unsaturated fatty acids. However, most of the fats are Omega 6 fatty acids, which can promote inflammation rather than reduce it when we eat too much.
The seeds are large and white before they are hulled. Once the outer shell is hulled the inner part is the seed that is green. This is why Pumpkin seeds can look so different. We can eat them hulled or not hulled. For the best health results buy the seeds raw and unsalted, then roast them and add salt to your liking. It’s easy to get carried away when eating them and men should be aware of the iron content since healthy men do not really need much iron in their diets. However, women who are menstruating can benefit from the high iron content from the seeds.
- Stevenson D, Eller F, Wang L, Jane J, Wang T, Inglett G. Oil and tocopherol content and composition of pumpkin seed oil in 12 cultivars. Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry [serial online]. May 16, 2007;55(10):4005-4013.
- Fu, C.; Shi, H.; Li, Q. A review on pharmacological activities and utilization technologies of pumpkin. Plant Foods Hum. Nutr. 2006, 61 (2), 73−80.
- Tsai, Y. S.; Tong, Y. C.; Cheng, J. T.; Lee, C. H.; Yang, F. S.; Lee, H. Y. Pumpkin seed oil and phytosterol-F can block testosterone/prazosin-induced prostate growth in rats. Urol. Int. 2006, 77 (3), 269−274.
- Gossell-Williams, M.; Davis, A.; O’Connor, N. Inhibition of testosterone-induced hyperplasia of the prostate of Sprague−Dawley rats by pumpkin seed oil. J. Med. Food 2006, 9 (2), 284−286.
- Zuhair, H. A.; Abd El-Fattah, A. A.; El-Sayed, M. I. Pumpkin-seed oil modulates the effect of feloipine and captopril in spontaneously hypersensitive rats. Pharmacol. Res. 2000, 41 (5), 555−563.
- Binns, C. W.; LJ, L. J. (Jian, L.); Lee, A. H. The relationship between dietary carotenoids and prostate cancer risk in southeast Chinese men. Asia Pac. J. Clin. Nutr. 2004, 13 (Suppl.), S117.
- Jian, L.; Lee, A.; Binns, C.; Du, C.-J. Do dietary lycopene and other carotenoids protect against prostate cancer? Int. J. Cancer 2005, 113 (6), 1010−1014.
- The Dr. Oz Show
Quince seeds may be able to help with diarrhoea and bloody stools. It can also help reduce inflammation of the mucus membrane, intestines and stomach. Most of the benefits actually come from the outer layer of the seed. You can find these seeds inside the Quince fruit.
Rose Hips (Seeds)
Rose hips are a good anti inflammatory food and may help protect our skin from the inside out from sun damage as well as heal the skin from sun damage.
Note: This is not a substitute for sunscreen or sun block.
Sunflower Seeds ★
These seeds are a lot like Pumpkin seeds in that they have high amounts of vitamin E, manganese and magnesium and this makes them very heart healthy. They are great for lowering our blood pressure because of the magnesium found in the seeds. They can help with hot flashes because they can keep your blood vessels dilated, which allows the heat to be released evenly throughout your body. It is a great source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s), which can lower your blood cholesterol levels. It should be noted that most of these fats are Omega 6 fatty acids. Consuming too much Omega 6 fats may promote inflammation rather than reduce it.
Sesame Seeds ★★
Sesame seeds can help lower your cholesterol levels and your blood pressure. It can also help lower your blood sugar levels.
Sesame seeds contain an antioxidant called sesamol. This antioxidant can help keep sesame oils from going rancid as fast as other oils. This allows sesame to be more productive in your body to help heal and protect cells from disease, damage from free radicals and cancer.
Sesame also contains a lignan called sesamin. Sesamin is a powerful antioxidant that can stop your body’s inflammatory response in its tracks. The inflammatory response is a specific sequence of events that happens in the body to trigger inflammation around an injury. The increase in blood brings nutrients and other compounds to help heal the injury. However, people who do not eat healthy or are obese may have low levels of inflammation throughout the body, meaning, the inflammatory response is constantly on. You can compare it to a campfire vs smoldering coals. Sesamin interferes with one stage of the inflammatory response and can keep it from working properly to the point where it can reduce low levels of inflammation throughout the body. Sesamin can also make tocopherols, which a type of antioxidant, more available to your body (note: Vitamin E is also called Alpha-tocopherol).
Sesame seeds are high in calcium and iron. Calcium calms nerves and the iron can help with anemia. The iron is also good for menstruating women to help replace lost iron. Like most other seeds and nuts it’s high in manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and copper. What helps sesame seeds stand out from the other seeds and nuts is that it’s exceptionally high in these minerals. Click here to learn more.
One study found that it may work together with certain anti diabetic drugs to lower blood sugar levels. More research is needed here to see how effective it can be.
Tahini is essentially sesame seed paste (or butter). It contains less minerals than the whole seeds but it can still boost your immune system and provide much of the same benefits as whole sesame seeds.
- Fujimoto A, Shingai Y, Oyama Y, et al. Apoptosis-inducing action of two products from oxidation of sesamol, an antioxidative constituent of sesame oil: a possible cytotoxicity of oxidized antioxidant. Toxicology In Vitro: An International Journal Published In Association With BIBRA [serial online]. September 2010;24(6):1720-1726
- Peñalvo J, Heinonen S, Aura A, Adlercreutz H. Dietary sesamin is converted to enterolactone in humans. The Journal Of Nutrition [serial online]. May 2005;135(5):1056-1062.
- Sankar D, Ali A, Sambandam G, Rao R. Sesame oil exhibits synergistic effect with anti-diabetic medication in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Clinical Nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland) [serial online]. June 2011;30(3):351-358.
- The Dr. Oz Show