Edible seeds are an excellent substitute for crunchy, salty, oily snacks. Their high fiber and protein content help satisfy cravings and provide a feeling of fullness or satisfaction without relying on high-calorie, fatty snack foods. Soak raw seeds in water to start the germination process, and their nutrition benefits get even better.
Flaxseeds (or "linseeds") and flaxseed oil contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are important to brain and behavioral functioning as well as normal growth and development. Research indicates that they reduce inflammation and possibly the risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis.
Other nutritional components of flaxseeds include fiber, manganese, folate, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorous, copper and lignan phytonutrients.
Hulled squash seeds, or pepitas, contain a rich spectrum of nutrients, chief among them manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. Like all edible seeds and nuts, they're full of protein, too.
Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are being studied for their possible prostate benefits, specifically in relation to the zinc, carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids they contain. Zinc intake has also been shown to correlate with lower incidence of osteoporosis; thus, pumpkin seeds may be an important dietary weapon in the fight to preserve bone mineral density.
Sesame and tahini seeds are useful sources of monosaturated fats and dietary fiber. They also contain many necessary vitamins and minerals: manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, thiamin (vitamin B1) and zinc.
One component unique to the sesame seed is sesamin, a type of lignan. Laboratory studies of these plant-produced compounds have indicated lignans may slow the growth of certain cancers.
Sunflower seeds, like other seeds, provide fiber, protein and a host of useful minerals such as magnesium and selenium. They contain linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid. The phytosterols they provide help reduce cholesterol. And you'll also get plenty of vitamin E from eating sunflower seeds.
Germinated seeds provide an increased amount of vitamin C, vitamin B and carotenes. They may also aid in neutralizing enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid. Phytic acid can inhibit the absorption of necessary minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
Start only as many seeds as you expect to consume within three days; germinated seeds don't have as long of a shelf life as dormant ones. Rinse them well, then soak them at room temperature. Sunflower seeds require only two hours, while sesame seeds need eight. Afterward you may wish to rinse the seeds in apple cider vinegar, whose low pH will kill any bacteria that may have gotten a foothold during the soaking process.