9 Types of Edible Seeds You Can Eat

Many people think about seeds as things you plant to grow other items but neglect that you can eat some seeds themselves.

Raw Organic Black Fennel Flower Seeds in a Bowl

Seeds might not seem to be doing much in your smoothie or salad bowl, but they pack a nutritional punch. Many carry omega-3 and fiber to keep your heart and digestive system healthy, respectively.

Additionally, seeds are a great source of protein, making them an easy way to add more energy to your diet, especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan and need meat substitutes. They’re easy to carry around as a snack, so they’re also great for hiking.

In this article, I’ll discuss the best types of seeds you can eat, why I enjoy them, and how you can add them to your diet.

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are originally from Mexico and were a staple in the diet of the Aztecs. They’re small, black and white seeds from the Salvia hispanica plant.

They’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Due to their major health benefits, chia seeds have gained massive popularity over the last decade.

I like putting chia seeds in my smoothies or on top of oatmeal and yogurt. You can also use them to make chia pudding by mixing them with milk and letting them sit overnight in the fridge.

If you enjoy adding texture to your food while gaining health benefits, chia seeds are a great way to do so.

Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds come from the Sesamum indicum plant and are small, brown, or black seeds with a nutty taste.

You may be most familiar with sesame seeds on hamburger buns, but they are prevalent in many cuisines around the world.

For example, they’re a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine and are used in dishes such as sushi, stir-fries, and grilled meats.

Sesame seeds are a fantastic choice if you want more magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, and zinc in your diet.

Additionally, they contain phytosterols, compounds that can help lower cholesterol levels.

I usually add sesame seeds to my stir-fries or on top of salads. You can also use them to make tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds often used in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, come from the Cucurbita maxima plant. They’re small, green seeds that have a nutty taste.

Pumpkin seeds have plenty of magnesium, zinc, and iron. They’re also good if you’re looking for more fiber in your diet.

I love the taste of raw pumpkin seeds because it is so mild, making them an ideal and convenient snack for any time of the day. I also enjoy roasting and salting them to bring out the nuttiness.

I usually eat pumpkin seeds alone to appreciate their chewy consistency, but they also go well in cereal and green smoothies. You can also try blending them into pesto or guacamole for a unique flavor.

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds come from the Helianthus annuus plant and are small, brown seeds with a black-and-white striped shell.

Sunflower seeds are an exceptional choice for boosting your vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, and phosphorus, and they have many other health benefits as well.

Given their high protein content, this is one of the best types of seeds you can eat while on an adventure.

Whether hiking, biking, kayaking, or other activities, I know I can grab a bag of sunflower seeds for an extra energy boost.

In addition to snacking on them alone, sunflower seeds go well in trail mix, stir fry, and oatmeal.

I also like turning it into butter if I want a healthier alternative to peanut butter.

Flax Seeds

Flax seeds come from the Linum usitatissimum plant and are small, brown, or golden seeds. They have a nutty taste and a slightly chewy texture.

Flax seeds are an excellent plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating these seeds is also an excellent way to get more fiber, magnesium, and potassium.

I like to add flax seeds to my smoothies or on top of oatmeal and yogurt. They also go swimmingly in salads or mixed in with salad dressings.

You can also use them to make flaxseed meal, which is a fine powder made from ground flax seeds.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds — from the Cannabis sativa plant — are small, greenish-brown seeds.

They have a nutty taste, some describing it as in between pine nuts and sunflower seeds.

Hemp seeds are a great source of protein, essential fatty acids, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. They can help boost immunity, improve heart health, and reduce stress.

Seeing that they’re from the Cannabis sativa plant might make you wonder if it’s similar to the drug marijuana.

Although related, as they are from the same plant, hemp seeds do not contain THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. They are also legal to import into the U.S.

I enjoy hemp seeds as a snack because you don’t have to worry about peeling or cracking them, but you can just eat them whole.

Pine Nuts

Pine nuts come from the Pinus species plant and are small, edible seeds with a slightly sweet taste that I love.

They’re a good source of copper, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese. Additionally, they contain pinolenic acid, which has been shown to help control appetite.

I think pine nuts are underrated because there are so many ways to use them. Pine nuts make a great topping for salads, pasta dishes, or any dish that could use a little extra flavor.

You can also use pine nuts to make pesto or try them with avocado toast.

More specifically, here are some of the dishes I think pine nuts go best in:

  • tilapia
  • roasted mushrooms
  • zucchini salad
  • basmati rice
  • spaghetti with spinach and parmesan
  • green beans
  • ice cream
  • lemon arugula salad
  • and much more

Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds are seeds from the Papaver somniferum plant and are tiny, blue-black seeds.

They have a nutty taste with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Poppy seeds provide ample calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. They seem to carry plenty of health benefits, from promoting digestion to treating headaches.

Although the number of studies is lacking and more research needs to be done, there is a lot of potential for poppy seeds.

In any case, I love poppy seeds on bread, cakes, and pastries. You can also add them to savory dishes like rice or noodles. One of my favorite ways to use poppy seeds is a poppy seed salad dressing.

Wild Rice

Last but not least is wild rice, which you might have assumed is rice given its name. Wild rice is a seed from four different species of aquatic grass.

It’s a good source of fiber, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. Wild rice also contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

I love pairing wild rice with roasted vegetables or using it as a base for salads.

You can also stuff it inside of chicken or mix it with mushrooms, olive oil, and chicken broth for a tasty soup.

There you have it, a list of seeds that are not only delicious but nutritious as well.

Now that you know all about different types of seeds you can eat, I hope that you will try out some interesting recipes, mix them in your morning smoothies or yogurt, or simply eat some of them alone as a power-food snack.

So next time you’re in the store wondering what healthy snack you can pick up, skip over the chips and crackers and get some healthy seeds you can eat instead!

Learn about other food on our blog, like different pasta shapes or types of legumes to eat.

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin is an editor and food writer who loves traveling and trying new foods and fun cocktails. Erin has been writing and editing professionally for 5 years since graduating from Temple University, and has been on the Restaurant Clicks team for 3 years. She has a long background working in the restaurant industry, and is an avid home chef and baker. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.