Sesame seeds are commonly consumed in Asia,

Sesame seeds are commonly consumed in Asia,

Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are commonly consumed in Asia, and also in Western countries as part of a paste called tahini.

Similar to other seeds, they contain a wide nutrient profile. One ounce (28 grams) of sesame seeds contains (30):

Calories: 160
Fiber: 3.3 grams
Protein: 5 grams
Monounsaturated fat: 5.3 grams
Omega-6 fats: 6 grams
Copper: 57% of the RDI
Manganese: 34% of the RDI
Magnesium: 25% of the RDI
Like flaxseeds, sesame seeds contain a lot of lignans, particularly one called sesamin. In fact, sesame seeds are the best known dietary source of lignans.

A couple of interesting studies have shown that sesamin from sesame seeds may get converted by your gut bacteria into another type of lignan called enterolactone (31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source).

Enterolactone can act like the sex hormone estrogen, and lower-than-normal levels of this lignan in the body have been associated with heart disease and breast cancer (33Trusted Source).

Another study found that postmenopausal women who ate 50 grams of sesame seed powder daily for five weeks had significantly lower blood cholesterol and improved sex hormone status (34Trusted Source).

Sesame seeds may also help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which can worsen symptoms of many disorders, including arthritis.

One study showed that people with knee osteoarthritis had significantly fewer inflammatory chemicals in their blood after eating about 40 grams of sesame seed powder every day for two months (35Trusted Source).

Another recent study found that after eating about 40 grams of sesame seed powder per day for 28 days, semi-professional athletes had significantly reduced muscle damage and oxidative stress, as well as increased aerobic capacity (36Trusted Source).

SUMMARY:
Sesame seeds are a great source of lignans, which may help improve sex hormone status for estrogen. Sesame seeds may also help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

5. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are one of the most commonly consumed types of seeds, and are good sources of phosphorus, monounsaturated fats and omega-6 fats.

A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of pumpkin seeds contains (37):

Calories: 151
Fiber: 1.7 grams
Protein: 7 grams
Monounsaturated fat: 4 grams
Omega-6 fats: 6 grams
Manganese: 42% of the RDI
Magnesium: 37% of the RDI
Phosphorus: 33% of the RDI
Pumpkin seeds are also good sources of phytosterols, which are plant compounds that may help lower blood cholesterol (38Trusted Source).

These seeds have been reported to have a number of health benefits, likely due to their wide range of nutrients.

One observational study of more than 8,000 people found that those who had a higher intake of pumpkin and sunflower seeds had a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer (39Trusted Source).

Another study in children found that pumpkin seeds may help lower the risk of bladder stones by reducing the amount of calcium in urine (40Trusted Source).

Bladder stones are similar to kidney stones. They’re formed when certain minerals crystalize inside the bladder, which leads to abdominal discomfort.

A couple of studies have shown that pumpkin seed oil can improve symptoms of prostate and urinary disorders (41Trusted Source, 42Trusted Source).

These studies also showed that pumpkin seed oil may reduce symptoms of overactive bladder and improve quality of life for men with enlarged prostates.

A study of postmenopausal women also found that pumpkin seed oil may help reduce blood pressure, increase “good” HDL cholesterol and improve menopause symptoms (43Trusted Source).

SUMMARY:
Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil are good sources of monounsaturated and omega-6 fats, and may help improve heart health and symptoms of urinary disorders.

6. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds contain a good amount of protein, monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. One ounce (28 grams) of sunflower seeds contains (44):

Calories: 164
Fiber: 2.4 grams
Protein: 5.8 grams
Monounsaturated fat: 5.2 grams
Omega-6 fats: 6.4 grams
Vitamin E: 47% of the RDI
Manganese: 27% of the RDI
Magnesium: 23% of the RDI
Sunflower seeds may be associated with reduced inflammation in middle-aged and older people, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

An observational study of more than 6,000 adults found that a high intake of nuts and seeds was associated with reduced inflammation (45Trusted Source).

In particular, consuming sunflower seeds more than five times per week was associated with reduced levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a key chemical involved in inflammation.

Another study examined whether eating nuts and seeds affected blood cholesterol levels in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes (46Trusted Source).

The women consumed 30 grams of sunflower seeds or almonds as part of a healthy diet every day for three weeks.

By the end of the study, both the almond and sunflower seed groups had experienced reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. The sunflower seed diet reduced triglycerides in the blood more than the almond diet, though.

However, “good” HDL cholesterol was also reduced, suggesting that sunflower seeds may reduce both good and bad types of cholesterol.

 

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