Adding healthy flavour with seeds & spices

Seeds and spices have a long and fascinating history and can make a surprisingly big addition to the diet. Seeds can provide many important nutrients and spices can add flavour to help make food appealing.

More and more of us are discovering quinoa, a high-protein seed that also provides fibre, zinc, five B-complex vitamins and vitamin E. One cup contains as much iron as 85 g of beef. Poppy seeds are a rich source of calcium, with just three teaspoons having as much as 100 mL milk. Linseeds, also known as flaxseeds, are a rich source of plant omega-3 fats and fibre, both of which have health benefits. Pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, are another good source of iron – 25 g has as much iron as 100 g of red meat.

Spices are typically dried and ground seeds, stems, bark or other parts of plants and tend to have strong flavours. (Herbs are typically the leaves and stems of plants, are used fresh or dried and tend to have a subtle flavour.)

Flavouring food with spices can help us meet our dietary goals, such as the recommended five serves of vegetables a day, by making healthy foods more appealing. A study found that reduced-fat versions of certain dishes, including a mixed vegetable dish, were much better liked when spices and herbs were used to add flavour. This suggests that flavour-rich, low-fat dishes may help with weight management, an important part of the management of osteoarthritis.

Keen to add more seeds and spices to your diet? Try this simple and delicious recipe for Spicy Chicken with Sweet Potato Salad.