Strengthen Your Immune Systems with Seeds

Claudia Pillow, Ph.D.
Claudia Pillow, Ph.D.

In my book, The Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook, I talk about the importance of eating seeds to neutralize inflammation and strengthen the immune system. They are nutritional powerhouses packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy oils. But many of us do not eat seeds on a daily basis, unless it is on a gluten-free bagel. Here are 5 of my favorites:

Chia Seeds originated in South America and was a staple in the diets of Ancient Mayans and Aztecs. The seeds are high in dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. They have a mild nutty flavor and can be eaten raw or used in cooking and baking.

Flaxseeds are rich in health-healthy omega-3 fats, manganese and dietary fiber. Omega-3 fats can help reduce inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. But make sure you grind the seeds or buy milled flax seed. Ground flax seed is also a fat and egg substitute. (3 Tablespoons flaxseed meal can replace 1 tablespoon oil. To replace 1 egg, combine 3 tablespoons of water with 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal.)

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E. They are also a very good source of vitamin B1. In addition, sunflower seeds are a good source of manganese, magnesium, copper, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin B5 and folate.

Pumpkin seeds are a very good source of the minerals phosphorus, magnesium and manganese. They are also a good source of protein, vitamin K and other minerals including zinc, iron and copper.

Sesame is a flowering plant in the genus Sesamum and the seeds come from pods which burst open at maturity “open sesame”. Sesame seeds are a very good source of the minerals copper and manganese. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, monounsaturated fats and magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1 and zinc.

Dr. Pillow’s Top 5 GFCF Quick Summer Ideas for Seeds:


  1. Toss a tablespoon over a summer mixed green salad (sunflower & pumpkin).
  2. Sprinkle a tablespoon over oatmeal or coconut yogurt (flaxseed meal & sunflower).
  3. Add a tablespoon per cup of flour in a bread, pancake or pizza crust recipe (chia & sesame).
  4. Scatter over stir-fries, rice or gluten-free noodle dishes before serving (sesame, sunflower & chia).
  5. Use to make pesto or vegetable spreads in place of nuts (pumpkin & sunflower).

Find more healthy gluten-free recipes in Claudia’s cookbook, The Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook.

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