Oil seeds: what they are, properties & benefits

Could you recognize which oilseeds are while shopping? And can you indicate the most significant benefits they can bring to your health?

Try to think about it before continuing to read this article. We’ll reveal to you that these foods rich in fiber, vitamins, and good fats are a real panacea and should be added to our daily diet.


So, has the name of any oilseed come to mind? So, let’s immediately see what properties they have and when to use them!

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What are oil-seeds?

Before listing the main oil seeds, let’s better understand what they are. As the name suggests, they are tiny seeds of plant origin that can be used in the kitchen creatively.

They are rich in fats (the good ones, though!) and, although they were often used in ancient times, only recently – thanks to the many cooking programs broadcast on TV – have they been rediscovered and often used in daily recipes.


The main oil-seeds are:

  • flax seed
  • cumin seeds
  • poppy seeds
  • chia seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • hemp seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • sesame seeds


All the properties of oil seeds

Oilseeds are rich in nutrients essential for the wellbeing of the body. They are composed chiefly of lipids (both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated), in a percentage that varies from 30 to 50%, as well as fibers and proteins. Obviously, the fiber, protein, and fat rate always depends on the seed type.

These foods also contain minerals (including magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, calcium, selenium, and phosphorus) and vitamins, especially E.

They are, however, very caloric: 100 grams of product can correspond to almost 600 calories.


How many oil seeds do you eat in a day?

Due to their high caloric intake, it is always better to consume oilseeds sparingly. To benefit from their properties (and make them excellent allies for our health), only 20-30 grams per day are enough, i.e., 2-3 tablespoons.


Oil seeds: the health benefits

The properties of oil seeds make these foods very important for our general wellbeing. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, for example, keep the heart healthy and act positively on the cardiovascular system, lowering harmful cholesterol levels.

They are foods with high satiating power, rich in calcium, and therefore perfect for bone health, as well as an excellent source of iron (and a valid aid in combating anemia). Vitamins (especially those of groups B and E) provide the body with the antioxidant substances necessary to fight free radicals.


Furthermore, the vegetable proteins contained in oil seeds are recommended for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. At the same time, fiber facilitates digestion, promotes intestinal balance, and improves insulin response in people with diabetes.


Oil seeds and cholesterol: allies for your wellbeing

Oil seeds help control and lower cholesterol levels. Some types, such as hemp and sesame seeds, are rich in phytosterols. What is it about? Molecules of plant origin that have a structure similar to cholesterol and whose intake can reduce levels of bad cholesterol (also known as LDL). In particular, they would act on intestinal absorption, eliminating dangerous fats consumed in the diet. Asg foods rich in fiber and oilseeds can positively impact digestion. Also, combined with a varied diet and daily physical exercise, they can prevent hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.


However, how to use oilseeds in the kitchen? The idea is to try them in various ways. Some (like sunflower and pumpkin seeds, for example) can be munched on their own as a tasty snack. They are then perfect to add raw to salads, to enrich first courses (excellent on veloutés and soups!), or to give an extra boost to yogurt or muesli. Try them also in bread dough, focaccia, baked desserts, and in the preparation of cereal bars.


If you don’t like cooking, you can also find them in the cereals of wholemeal corn, rice, and seed biscuits or the gluten-free and fiber-rich rustic seed bread!


Try sunflower and hemp seeds to lower cholesterol

Of all the seeds, in particular, hemp seeds are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which – as we mentioned – allows you to reduce the absorption of sugars and fats in the intestine.


The presence of phytosterols can be helpful in keeping cholesterolemia under control. Omega 6 and Omega 3 (contained in a 3:1 ratio) are essential for reducing the risk of pathologies linked to cholesterol in the blood.


Benefits of hemp seeds for cholesterol

The beneficial action of sunflower seeds should also be considered. In addition to boasting a very high content of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins, these seeds are rich in mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids. What does it mean? This means that sunflower seeds also contribute to lowering bad cholesterol levels, keeping the presence of fat in the blood under control.

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