What: Yes, hemp seeds come from the same Cannabis species as marijuana. However, they've been bred with drastically lower levels of the psychoactive chemical THC. Buy them whole or shelled (also called hulled). The shelled seeds taste milder and pack more nutrients; the whole seeds give you more crunch and fiber.
Why: Among seeds and nuts, hemp tops the list for protein: Two tablespoons have an impressive 24 percent of your daily requirement. It's a high-quality protein, too, with a balance of all the essential amino acids.
How: Stir into baked goods, or toast and add a handful to salads.
What: Also known as pepitas, these flat olive-green seeds are sold with or without their white shells.
Why: Shelled pumpkin seeds offer plenty of protein and energy-producing magnesium, and 1/4 cup delivers a third of your daily requirement of immunity-protecting zinc. The seeds contain most of the nutrients, but the shell provides extra fiber.
How: Mix dried pumpkin seeds with a little oil and salt; season and roast for 15 to 20 minutes. Use shelled seeds as a garnish for creamy soups.
What: The seeds of the sesame plant, native to Africa and India, lend a delicate taste and crunch to everything from sushi to hamburger buns.
Why: Tiny but potent, sesame seeds contain more cholesterol-lowering phytosterols than any other seed or nut. They're also rich in minerals such as iron, copper, selenium, and magnesium.
How: Lightly toast them in a pan and sprinkle on sauteed or broiled fish.
What: For more than 500 years, Native Americans in the Southwest have relied on chia seeds for food and medicine.
Why: They're loaded with omega-3s, calcium, and antioxidants. One ounce of chia seeds also contains a whopping 43 percent of your daily fiber.
How: Blend a tablespoon with yogurt, fruit, and honey for a smoothie.
What: These brown and golden seeds come from a multitasking plant that's also used to make linen.
Why: Flax seeds contain a trifecta of powerful cardio-protective nutrients: omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and lignans.
How: Spoon ground flax on top of warm cereals. In muffin recipes, replace one egg with one tablespoon ground flax mixed with three tablespoons water.
What: The kernels of the yellow North American flower were first grown for food 5,000 years ago in the Southwest.
Why: Full of disease-fighting antioxidant power, just 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds offers 82 percent of the vitamin E and 34 percent of the selenium you need in a day. They also contain 20 percent of your folate requirement.
How: Toss a handful each of sunflower seeds and Parmesan over whole-wheat pasta drizzled with lemon-infused olive oil, or add to rice dishes (after cooking) for a texture and flavor boost.