3 Small Snacks That Pack Major Disease-Fighting Benefits

They help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol and more.

3 Small Snacks That Pack Major Disease-Fighting Benefits

They might seem like just tiny bird food, but seeds are actually packed with nutrients that fight disease and help prevent premature aging. Here are some seeds you might consider adding to your diet for a big boost of vitamins and minerals to help lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and more.

Pumpkin seeds

One ounce delivers 7g of protein;18 percent of your RDI for vitamin K, 33 percent for phosphorus, 42 percent for manganese, 37 percent for magnesium, 23 percent for iron, and 14 percent for zinc; plus 6g of omega-6s and 7g of polyunsaturated fats. They boost your nutrition and fight inflammation.

Flaxseed (pre-ground or grind at home)

Delivers the most ALA omega-3 fatty acid of any plant source in the North American diet, as well as a good dose of lignans, a phytoestrogen that's linked to a reduced risk of osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer. It also has soluble fiber, which boosts digestion, lowers lousy LDL cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar and lowers the risk of heart disease.

Hempseed (pre-ground or grind at home)

Delivers all nine essential amino acids—the building blocks of proteins. Sunflower seeds are high in healthy fats, protein, fiber and a super-source of vitamin E (almost 20mg in three ounces). Chia seeds are super-charged with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, loaded with 5g of fiber per tablespoon, and contain iron, calcium, zinc. We love seeds.

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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