The Benefits of Eating Seeds for Women With PCOS

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Are seeds a staple in your diet? If not, they should be. Consumption of seeds is on the rise thanks in part to the recent popularity of chia and hemp seeds.

And with good reason—seeds are a nutrient powerhouse. Packed with fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals, seeds are a superfood that is friendly for people who have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Seeds contain very few carbohydrates, so they don’t spike your insulin levels. They're safe for people with tree nut allergies. Whether you like to eat them on their own or mixed in with other foods, here are five nutritious seeds to add to your diet now.

Hemp seeds
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Sunflower Seeds

Don’t just limit sunflower seeds to the occasional salad. Sunflower seeds are rich in magnesium and selenium. They’re also rich in vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin that also works as an antioxidant.

Sunflower seeds also offer cardioprotective benefits due to their rich content of cholesterol-lowering plant sterols.

Mix sunflower seeds into your favorite tuna or chicken salad recipe, sprinkle sunflower seeds onto hot and cold cereals, or use fine-ground sunflower seeds to coat your meats or fish in place of flour.

Pumpkin Seeds

Carving pumpkins this Halloween? Don’t toss out the seeds. Pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) provide many PCOS-fighting nutrients, including magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, iron, and zinc. A deficiency of zinc is linked to androgenic alopecia (hair loss).

Pumpkin seeds provide a good source of monounsaturated fats, protein, B vitamins, and vitamin A. They also contain beta-sitosterol, a plant sterol that works to reduce cholesterol and boost the immune system. It may even help with androgenic alopecia by preventing the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.

Pumpkin seeds make a great snack or can be tossed into a salad, yogurt parfait, vegetables, or oatmeal. To make your own pumpkin seeds at home, rinse and dry them and toast with a little extra virgin olive oil and your favorite spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg or spice them up with cayenne pepper.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are rich in calcium, magnesium, and zin., They also may help lower cholesterol due to their high content of the plant sterols sesamin and sesamolin. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.

Use sesame seeds to jazz up a stir-fry or toast them and use as a breading for fish or chicken. These nutty yet delicate seeds are also a great ingredient to use in salad dressings.

Chia Seeds

A great thing about chia seeds is that they are so filling. Just 1 tablespoon of these nutty seeds provides 5 grams of fiber.

When mixed with water, chia seeds form a gel-like texture that’s good to use in smoothies, soups, oatmeal, and even as a substitute for eggs in many baked goods.

Chia seeds are rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc. They also provide a good dose of omega-3 fats.

Hemp Seeds

Already eating a variety of seeds and are looking for something a little different? Give hemp seeds a try. These nutty and crunchy seeds are packed with protein and fiber. They also provide omega-3 fats.

Considered a complete protein, hemp seeds provide 5 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons. This makes them a welcome addition to vegan and vegetarian diets.

Eat them on their own or mix them into oatmeal, yogurt, and smoothies, or toss them into a salad or pilaf—the possibilities are endless.

13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  9. Sirato-Yasumoto S, Katsuta M, Okuyama Y, Takahashi Y, Ide T. Effect of sesame seeds rich in sesamin and sesamolin on fatty acid oxidation in rat liver. J Agric Food Chem. 2001;49(5):2647–2651. doi:10.1021/jf001362t

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By Angela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN
 Angela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN, is the founder of the PCOS Nutrition Center.