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VCU Massey Cancer Center


Diet and nutrition: super seeds

VCU Health and Massey registered dietitian Allie Farley provides nutrition tips and information on the connection between diet and cancer. Visit Allie's Diet and Nutrition blog to read more. If there is there a topic that you would like to see covered, send your requests to

Crunchy, nutty and nutrition-packed seeds are a great addition to many recipes! Research indicates that seeds have numerous health benefits. You can roast them or buy them pre-roasted. Try flaxseeds, chia seeds and more to enhance your healthy meals.

  • Sunflower Seeds: 
    • Native to North America
    • One-ounce serving provides nearly half of the daily recommended amount of vitamin E, along with a variety flavonoids
    • Compound being studied for cancer preventive properties
  • Flaxseeds:
    • Excellent source of magnesium, thiamin, fiber and selenium
    • Provides omaga-3 fat, protein and copper
    • Contains a plant compound that through lab studies has been shown to possibly slow tumor growth
  • Fennel seeds:
    • Sweet taste with a hint of licorice
    • Has phenolic compounds that has shown anti-cancer activity in lab studies
    • Popular in Indian spice mixes, fennel seed is also chewed as an after-meal breath freshener in India
  • Chia seeds:
    • Contains cancer-protective fiber and the plant-based omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid
    • Use these seeds to boost fiber and thicken beverages and smoothies
  • Sesame seeds:
    • Come in a variety of colors including golden and black
    • In the US, the most common ones are white
    • Contain lignans, fiber, magnesium and iron
    • Develop a nutty flavor when lightly toasted for a few minutes

Recipes for each of these seeds can be found at

For more information on spices and herbs, please visit Memorial Sloan Ketting Cancer Center's About Herbs resource.

Massey does not endorse all integrative and complementary practices. We only recommend those that are known to be safe and have the potential to improve health when used alongside, and never in place of, professional medical care. All cancer patients are advised to consult with their physician before starting any integrative practice, as some may interfere with medical care.

Written by: Massey Communications Office

Posted on: March 12, 2019