The keto diet by and large limits the intake of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to a ratio of approximately 75%, 20%, and 5%, respectively. While this may seem challenging to balance, it really is a manageable quota with the inclusion of seeds on the keto diet.
Most Common Seeds on Keto Diet
Seeds provide a tremendous amount of fat and even protein. Also, the carbohydrates that seeds contain are offset by the dietary fiber to produce optimal net carbs. We have already covered the macronutrients of nuts, which can make our baking and cooking a bit easier. Let’s also take a closer look at some of the seeds that can often be used in Low-carb & Keto kitchen.
Synopsis of the Most Common Seeds on Keto per Ounce:
- Chia seeds: 13 grams total carbohydrates – 11 grams dietary fiber = 2 grams net carbs
- Flax seeds: 8 grams total carbohydrates – 8 grams dietary fiber = 0 grams net carbs
- Hemp seeds: 3.3 grams total carbohydrates – 2 grams dietary fiber = 1.3 grams net carbs
- Pumpkin seeds: 5 grams total carbohydrates – 1 gram dietary fiber = 4 grams net carbs
- Safflower seeds: 9.6 grams total carbohydrates – 0 grams dietary fiber = 9.6 net carbs
- Sesame seeds: 7 grams total carbohydrates – 4 grams dietary fiber = 3 grams net carbs
- Sunflower seeds: 6.5 grams total carbohydrates – 3 grams dietary fiber = 3.5 grams net carbs
Are Seeds on Keto Diet Good for You?
Before going any further, let us mention the three types of fat relative to the Keto diet:
- Saturated fatty acid (SFA)
- Monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA)
- Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA)
Most of the fat in many types of seeds is the Polyunsaturated fatty acid or PUFA. PUFA (also found in margarine and vegetable oils) has a chemical compound that makes it an unstable fat. Their chemical structure also makes them vulnerable to oxidation from light, heat, and exposure to oxygen.
When oxidized fats are consumed, they cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation can increase the risk for chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, organ damage, obesity, and arthritis.
But not all PUFA's are bad. They mainly break down into two types:
- Omega 3 fatty acids (contained in fish, coconut oil, avocado oil)
- Omega 6 fatty acids (contained in industrial oils like corn oil, soy oil, and peanut oil)
High levels of Omega-6 versus Omega-3 cause inflammation and risk of chronic disease, as we discussed earlier. Also, high levels of Omega-6's causes free radicals damage to the human cell DNA.
On the other hand, Omega-3's act protectively against these inflammatory processes. In most modern foods, we tend to consume too much Omega-6 PUFA's and too little Omega-3's. A healthy ratio of Omega-3 fats and Omega-6 fats (PUFA Ratio) should be approximately 3:1.
So Where Do Seeds Fit into the Ketogenic Diet?
Seeds are acclaimed for being a kind of superfood. This could make sense from afar because a seed is the natural storehouse of nutrients for the developing plant embryo.
However, most seeds are not particularly high in the Omega-3’s that are so essential for overall health. Some seeds, like chia and flax, do provide a type of Omega-3 called ALA, but the human body is not efficient in converting ALA into the active forms of Omega 3. As such, seeds do little to promote a critical balance against the Omega-6s. However, they are known to contain vital anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber that, in turn, reduce chronic health conditions.
Some of you might find it useful to know what type of seed is fattier than the other. Especially when mixing seeds with other ingredients. Moreover, if you pay special attention to eating as healthy as possible, you don't only look for fat and net carb count. You might want to look at different amounts of polyunsaturated fats (PUFA’s). As discussed above, they are unstable and unhealthy when over consumed. Here's some nice presentation and a good and easy read for you on this issue.
Before anyone starts avoiding seeds on keto because of Omega-6 or relatively high amounts of net carbs, it is good to keep in mind that certain seeds usually get used in more significant quantities than the other. When making keto bread, for example, you might go for a few tablespoons of flaxseed or sesame seed meal. But you’d put only a tablespoon of chia in a low carb smoothie. So, it would not make sense to obsess over chia seed carb count in this case. Consider the nutrition facts relative.
A Good Way to Consume Raw Seeds is to Sprout Them
Seeds can be consumed raw. However, one of the ideas on how to consume raw seeds is through sprouting them. The reason for this is many-fold. To keep it simple, however, the potency of the nutrients contained in each seed is increased with sprouting. Things that happen when you sprout seeds:
Phytic Acid is Neutralized
Phytic acid will bind with minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc. This binding makes it difficult for your body to absorb the minerals. When you sprout the seed, phytic acid is neutralized, allowing the body better able to process these added nutrients.
Enzyme Inhibitors are Neutralized
Unsprouted seeds contain enzyme inhibitors to protect the unborn plant from environmental damage. These enzyme inhibitors can inhibit the release of vital plant enzymes into your system, as well as inhibit the enzymes already in your gut. Sprouting stops enzyme inhibitors easing digestion.
Sprouting Aids Digestion
Consuming raw seeds can be irritating on your digestive system. Sprouting the seeds converts dense plant proteins to a pure amino acid that makes it easier to digest.
Sprouting Reduces Gas
Many times when we eat unsprouted seeds, there can be associated intestinal gas build-up. Sprouting breaks down complex sugars that cause this gas.
Essential Nutrients Are Released
Sprouting releases the treasure trove of vital nutrients intended to sustain the fledgling plant. Therefore, those nutrients intended for the plant are absorbed by your body. These nutrients include Amino Acids, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), and B6 (Pyridoxine), Vitamins C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Calcium, Carotene, Chlorophyll, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, and trace elements. Protein is also increased by as much as 35%.
How to Sprout Seeds
- Clean seeds well by rinsing with fresh unchlorinated water,
- Place seeds in a glass mason jar or sprouting jar
- Cover seeds with fresh unchlorinated water
- Place a piece of gauze or sprouting jar cover over the jar mouth and secure
- Allow seeds to soak overnight
- In the morning, invert jar (still covered) and drain excess water
- Rinse seeds with fresh unchlorinated water, then drain the water completely allowing seeds to remain dampened
- Repeat the rinse and drain cycle 1 – 2 times daily (this prevents spoiling)
- When seeds begin to sprout, remove from the jar (2 to 8 days)
- Store seeds in Refrigerator until used (about 1 week)
Note: it is best to rinse a sprouted seed before you eat it
Seeds on keto are a simple addition to everyday foods such as salads, smoothies, keto bread, and so on. They add versatility, crunch, and fiber to keto foods. However, you want to consume them in moderation. That is true not so much because of the carb count but mainly because you don't want to consume too much Omega-6 PUFA's. On the other hand, if you're going to get most out of the consumption of the seed, consider sprouting the seeds.