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Healthy Seeds You Should Start Eating ASAP

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    Hemp Seeds

    Also called hemp hearts, these seeds are a complete plant protein—meaning they contain all the essential amino acids. A food can have up to 20 amino acids. While the body can produce 11 of these, the remaining nine amino acids are essential and must be delivered to your body via food sources. In just a tablespoon, hemp seeds provide about 6 percent of the daily protein need for a 150-pound woman. Use as a topper for hummus, like in this Kalamata Olive Lentil Hummus from Stephanie McKercher, M.S., R.D.N., owner of The Grateful Grazer. Or bake some into a casserole, like this Mexican Skillet Casserole from Tracee Yablon Brenner, R.D.N., culinary nutrition director at TriadtoWellness.com.     

    Per tablespoon: 55 calories, 3.2g protein, 0.4g fiber

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    Pumpkin Seeds

    These seeds provide iron, which your body needs to create oxygen-transporting hemoglobin. Pumpkin seeds also provide magnesium, a mineral necessary for 300-plus biochemical reactions in the body, as well as the immunity-helping mineral zinc. Roasted seeds are delicious as a topping for Greek yogurt—try Chobani's Chipotle Pineapple Flip, a high-protein snack that contains pumpkin seeds. Or add to a cracker recipe, like these Seed Crackers from Cheryl Meyer, R.D., blogger at DishandDelite.com.

    Per tablespoon: 45 calories, 2.4g protein, 0.5g fiber

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    Flaxseed

    Helping to improve digestion, flaxseed contains plant-based omega-3 fatty acids called alpha-linolenic acid—and just a tablespoon offers up to 8 percent of a woman's daily need of cholesterol-helping fiber. While whole flaxseed provides a nice crunch, ground flaxseed is easier to digest, meaning you may absorb more of the nutrients. Buy ground, or grind them yourself with a coffee grinder. Then use as a topper for oatmeal, a smoothie bowl, or a salad, like my Broccoli Slaw Salad.

    Per tablespoon (ground): 37 calories, 1.3g protein, 1.9g fiber

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    Chia Seeds

    Also a complete protein, chia seeds come in black and white varieties. The nutritional makeup of both is similar—the seeds are especially high in fiber, offering up to 23 percent of a woman's daily need per tablespoon. The seeds also provide a good dose of bone-helping calcium, as well as iron, magnesium, and zinc. The seed is unique because it expands when wet, forming a gel that helps keep you satiated. Have in a chia pudding, like The Chia Co's Chia Pods, or make your own, like this Chocolate Chia Pudding from Liz Weiss, M.S., R.D., and Janice Newell Bissex, M.S., R.D., coauthors of the blog Meal Makeover Moms' Kitchen. You can also add some to jam, such as this Cranberry Chia Jam from Elizabeth Ann Shaw, M.S., R.D.N., C.L.T., owner of Shaw's Simple Swaps.

    Per tablespoon: 73 calories, 2.5g protein, 5.2g fiber

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    Sunflower Seeds

    Technically a kernel, these "seeds" are the fruit of the sunflower. An excellent source of magnesium, sunflower seeds also provide the blood-sugar-regulating mineral manganese, as well as vitamin E, an antioxidant important for immunity. Mix into a salad, like this Carrot and Cucumber Balsamic Salad from Kristen Smith, R.D.N., founder of 360FamilyNutrition, or bake some into a healthy dessert, like this Apple Quinoa Bake from Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., owner of NutritionStarringYOU.com.

    Per tablespoon: 51 calories, 1.8g protein, 0.8g fiber

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    Sesame Seeds

    These seeds serve up a dose of healthy monounsaturated fats. They also provide manganese and copper, a mineral that works with iron to form red blood cells. Make a tahini with sesame seeds, incorporate them into a stir-fry, or use the seeds as a coating for salmon bites, like these Pumped-Up Sunny Sesame Salmon Bites from Ann Dunaway Teh, M.S., R.D.N., a board-certified sports dietitian and cofounder of My Menu Pal.

    Per tablespoon: 52 calories, 1.6 g protein, 1.1 g fiber

    Amy Gorin, M.S., R.D.N., is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in Jersey City, NJ. She is also a motivational speaker and brand ambassador for Chobani.