The seed inside has all the genetic code and the first nutrients to grow the new plant, it is the part where they concentrate the nutritional value of a plant.
For thousands of years man introduced in his diet seeds such as cereals: wheat, corn and rice, and many others present in almost every meal, as well as legumes such as peas, soybeans, beans and similar that are often found in the table.
The most overlooked and that traditionally belong to the Anglo-Saxon cultures are perhaps the oil seeds such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and similar.
The nutritional characteristics of the different "seeds" are different:
cereals provide mostly carbohydrates; legumes make proteins at will and oilseeds, as we understand from the name, are particularly rich in lipids, composition and in different percentages.
One of the reasons why some people are still doubtful approaching to a constant use of these precious foods is the consideration that they are too fat and caloric ... for this issue, however, we would like to evaluate some aspects ...
Oilseeds are certainly caloric, but fortunately they have a high satiating power, so it is easy not to exceed with the doses .. it is also essential to take into account the relationship between the various nutrients, especially the most valuable ones such as vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, fatty acids and fiber. Taking into account these aspects, it is definitely preferable a food with a higher caloric content but very rich in micronutrients and with good satiating effect, compared to a low-calorie but with "empty calories" that means low intake of elements essential to the body and maybe , moreover, unrewarding.
From an American study a few years ago seems to have emerged how the percentage of obesity was lower among the population that for example regularly ate nuts – we do not underestimate the amount of seeds responsible of fiber which facilitate a good intestinal transit. Just a few almonds or nuts or a tablespoon of sunflower seeds or sesame seeds are enough to give us a pleasant and quite long-lasting feeling of satiety and a boost of energy, without the heaviness often transmitted from other packaged foods and maybe loaded of sugar!
The seeds are classified into two distinct categories: the nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios) and oilseeds (sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, flax). Let's say, however, that both what is inside the sturdy shell of nuts and the small seeds are considered botanically the seed of the plant and are united by the richness in polyunsaturated fatty acids, minerals and trace elements and fiber. The most important fats of which they are the source, are omega3 fatty acids. The intake of these fats has proven to be important in the prevention of vascular diseases related to atherosclerosis. The omega3 and omega6 are factors that the body is not able to reproduce independently and contribute to a reduction in levels of total cholesterol, especially LDL ("bad"), instead of raising HDL, considered the protector of the arteries.
Many oilseeds provide interesting amounts of zinc and selenium, two minerals known for their effective antioxidant action that can fight cellular aging, trace elements and vitamins, especially the B group. Because of their small size the small seeds - with the exception of those of pumpkin and sunflower that if eaten alone can be shredded by the teeth – tend not to be chewed and with the leathery texture of their coating they are able to pass unharmed through the digestive system, it is therefore recommended in case of intestinal disorders, as for example diverticula, to reduce the seeds in powder to ensure that these remain in the intestinal loops.
Let’s have a closer look at the small seeds:
Flax seeds have a content of omega 3 equal to a third of their weight! They are known in the herbal tradition for poultices or decoctions, being rich in soluble fibers and mucilage.
The flax seeds may be soaked in water to form a gelatinous substance and then drunk; this way they stimulate the intestinal functionality. The difference between dark flax seed and golden flax seeds lies simply in the variety, both possess similar properties.
The sesame, still cultivated in our Sicily, where it is used to flavor bread or preparation of almond brittle, is particularly rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. Its fats are more resistant to temperature than other seeds and it does not seem they alter easily, resisting even to slight roasting. The recipe of gomasio (a Japanese condiment made from toasted sesame seeds and salt) expects to toast the sesame seeds until the first 8 beans are exploded!
They present the richer vitamin content of the vegetable world, especially for vitamin B1, but also for the A and E, valuable antioxidants. They also seem to hold, even though in small quantity, vit. B12, rare in the plant kingdom; they are also distinguished by the rich content of minerals.
Pumpkin seeds are the least known among the oilseeds even if their use at the beginning of the century was quite common. They were munched as pastime before the explosion of popcorns or candies.
Even in the popular traditional remedies they were once used for their effective vermifuge action also against pinworms. They are foods with a high content of protein and fat, omega 3, minerals, among which iron, zinc, phosphorus and chlorophyll. Now its virtues related to the normalization of male physical diseases such as prostatic hypertrophy are indisputable.
But how could we employ these little treasures in the kitchen?
It’s advisable to use them mostly raw in order to avoid the alteration of the organoleptic characteristics of these precious foods. What is certain is that especially in the macrobiotic tradition or in some preparations, sesame seeds or sunflower seeds are roasted (gomasio, sunflower seeds roasted with soy sauce for appetizers and snacks), this to intervene "energetically" with the heat and make the seed or the dish more "yang".
In case you roast them, it is important to limit as much as possible the time in which the seed remains in contact with heat.
You can use a nonstick or pig-iron pan or a baking pan that we will bring to high temperature (max 160 °) and only then we will pour the seeds for a few minutes, mixing them quickly to make the toasting uniform. The seed should not be too roasted and should absolutely not emit smoke !!
Prolonged cooking for some groups of vitamins are actually discouraged.
Even the B vitamins "suffer the heat" and not only ... also the light!
Vitamin "F" which is nothing more that a mixture of essential unsaturated fatty acids, such as linoleic acid: the degree of stability of this type of fatty acids is very delicate, the risk is that they can deteriorate and then dreaded peroxides form, so as for the oils, sagacity in seed conservation is important: do not keep the seeds open and exposed to light and avoid heat and cooking (worse if prolonged), and also those processes by which heat flows (long millings with electric mixer for example). Pay attention to sorounding damp, it might be a good trick to put them in a glass jar and store them in the refrigerator in hot periods.
Certainly in the salads they are more appreciable both for the taste that remains more faithful to the original flavor, and for the pleasantness in meeting the seed in its consistency. Also you can match the seeds to raw vegetables, which enriches a slight dish... They also can be appreciated raw in yogurt and muesli and to enrich cereal flakes in a energetic breakfast.
How important is it to consume them organic? The organic product is always to be preferred to the conventional one because it derives from a type of crop that does not allow the use of pesticides and chemicals. Substances which are not permitted by the Regulation on organic operations even during product processing (drying, shelling, etc. ..). In addition, the organic product is not derived from, and does not contain GMOs.
It 's very difficult to find Italians seeds, as some of them are of non-European origin, the important thing is that they are of good quality.
The consumption of seeds is suitable for all ages: ideal in times of growth and development of the mind; being a source of energy they are among the most suitable foods for athletes and students, for people of a certain age, to enhance memory, reduce cholesterol levels and improve the fluidity of the blood. They decrease the glycemic load of the meal (the speed at which sugars are absorbed) in which they are consumed. Excellent in all those situations in which the demand for minerals increases to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing: periods of overwork, menopause, there are many women who benefit from it in case of premenstrual syndrome.
Dark, golden flax seeds, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds of Probios are also guaranteed against the gluten contamination in all stages of processing and packaging and thus also suitable for all people with celiac disease who do not renounce to a natural diet!