Most people have tried nettle soup – a foraging classic – and nettle leaf tea is widely available. However, the use of nettle seed is still fairly uncommon, though it is the king of superfoods!
As the days lengthen, the female nettle produces little flowers quickly followed by green seeds, from the upper third of the plant. Over the summer the seeds ripen and thicken. They are harvested when still green before they start to dry out and turn brown. Nettle seed is crunchy and full of oil high in polyunsaturated fatty acids – linolenic, palmitic, oleic and stearic acids. Our bodies use linoleic and linolenic acids to make the important essential fatty acids omega 3 and omega 6.
A component of lecithin vital to liver function is found in nettle seed called choline. Choline is sometimes used to treat liver cirrhosis and hepatitis. Studies have also shown that it is indeed anti-inflammatory and will soothe colitis (inflammation of the colon).
Nettle seed tastes delicious. You can substitute poppy seed in crackers, oatcakes, bread with nettle seeds or you can sprinkle them with chopped nuts into salads. Mixing them into yoghurt, a smoothie or adding them to overnight oats is also worth trying. Don’t put nettle seeds into juices because they float and are hard to drink. Instead, mix with honey and make into protein snack bars. This is another delicious way of eating nettle seeds. Try seasoning your soup with nettle seeds by adding them on the top.
Crush the seeds in a pestle and mortar, then infuse them in sunflower or olive oil at room temperature for a week. This green oil makes a nice healthy salad oil or can be used with essential oils as an anti-inflammatory liniment for arthritic joints.
They will give you an energy boost and help to put you in a cheerful mood. Nettle seeds also raise dopamine levels, which is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward system and pleasure center. Dopamine facilitates learning, motivation and movement.
For stimulating health benefits, take 1 to 2 spoons of fresh green or dried nettle seed a day (a standard heaped tablespoon is about 5 grams). Great help for invigoration of the body!
You can learn more about nettle seed here.