Chia Seeds have become a very popular SuperFood in the health community. Chia seeds are a nutrient-dense and energy boosting food. Chia seeds benefits include promoting healthy skin, reducing signs of aging, supporting the heart and digestive system, building stronger bones and muscles, and more.
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22 Amazing Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds
Ever heard of the term ‘superfood’? You probably would have. And you also would have thought that it is something that grows in the wilderness of the remotest part of the world.
But no – the superfood I am talking about is easily available. Yes, chia seeds are what I am talking about. But superfood? How? That’s why we have this post! Read on to know more about chia seeds benefits and how to use chia seeds.
What Are Chia Seeds?
Scientifically known as Salvia hispanica, chia seeds are considered to be one of the few superfoods nature has bestowed us with. Originating in Mexico, and dating back to the Mayan and Aztec cultures, these seeds are known for their richness in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, antioxidants, and calcium. They also act as a natural laxative.
It is believed that Aztec warriors consumed chia seeds for endurance. According to popular legend, one spoonful of chia seeds could sustain them for 24 hours.
In the Mayan language, ‘chia’ means strength. The seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that are absorbed by the body as seeds (1). Though originally used as equine feed, the benefits are found to extend to humans as well (2).
Chia seeds are often confused with basil seeds (we will look at the differences later), and there is speculation as to which type is called sabja. So, what is the taste of chia seeds? Well, chia seeds usually taste like alfalfa sprouts.
In the recent times, research has found the benefits of chia seeds to be far greater than what anyone knew – which is precisely what we will see as we go ahead. And by the way, chia seeds can be good for your pets too. It is also easier to store. It doesn’t have any specific taste or smell for your pet to turn its nose up at. The dosage would be ¼ of chia seeds for every 4.5 kilos of your pet’s body weight.
This was about what are chia seeds good for, now you will learn are chia seeds healthy.
Chia Seed Facts
Chia, being a member of the mint family, is safe from insects. This is because insects don’t like mint, and hence, the plant can be grown without the use of pesticides.
Chia seeds had such great reputation amongst the beAztecs that they even used it as currency.
The chia seed plant is very temperamental and needs specific growing conditions. Hence, it is grown between 23 degrees north and 23 degrees south latitude.
Chia was discovered by Dr. Wayne Caotes in the 1990s, when he led a project in Argentina in search of cash crops that could benefit the farmers in the area.
The flowers of chia seeds are purple and white.
Why Are Chia Seeds Good For You?
Chia seeds are a member of the mint family, and, as we already discussed, have gained immense popularity in the recent years. So much that food companies are fortifying cereals, breads, bars, puddings, and chia seed drink.
Now, the question that arises is – are chia seeds really that good? If yes, why? A few pointers can give us the answer:
Firstly, it is the omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming chia seeds is probably the easiest way to intake these healthy fatty acids. Yes, we have flaxseeds or salmon that are good sources of omega-3, but it’s all about the ease of intaking. You don’t have to grind or cook the chia seeds. Also, one serving of chia seeds contains 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids.
Secondly, it’s the soluble fiber. Simply get the chia seeds a little wet, and you will see them turning into a gel – which is the soluble fiber. The benefits of soluble fiber are many – it helps manage blood sugar, feeds the gut-friendly bacteria, and even bulks up the stool (3). A single serving of chia seeds meets almost a third of your daily fiber requirement.
If you have bone issues, you can swear by chia seeds. A high content of calcium, phosphorous, and manganese make them good for the bones.
Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts
Following are the major nutrients present in chia seeds:
100 grams of these seeds contain about 485 calories, 31 grams of fat and 42 grams of carbohydrates. The seeds also contain 18 of the 22 amino acids – and all of the 9 essential amino acids namely lysine, leucine, isoleucine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, valine, and histadine. One serving of chia seeds equals 28 g. The nutritional values are based on one single serving of chia seeds.
Best Chia Seeds Benefits
1. Stimulate Weight Loss
Weight loss is probably the number one reason most people do what they do. In fact, it is a multi-billion dollar industry. And if you are looking to lose weight, chia seeds could be one the first options you can consider.
Of course, no single food can aid weight loss or cause weight gain. It all depends on our food habits and lifestyle. However, what makes chia seeds a good weight loss food is the excellent fiber content. A normal intake of chia seeds a day, which amounts to 25 to 38 grams a day, can go a long way in helping you shed those kilos. The seeds are also found to reduce belly fat.
Wondering how to prepare chia seeds for weight loss? It’s simple. Just add two tablespoons of raw or whole chia seeds into a glass of water. Stir well. After allowing the mixture to settle (for a few minutes), drink them quick before they get swollen due to water absorption.
Fiber in chia seeds also helps you feel full for longer periods of time. It promotes satiety. The seeds absorb water in the stomach and then expand, thereby suppressing your appetite (4). This can eventually lead to weight loss.
As per a Brazilian study, chia seeds play a role in fat reduction (5). Chia seeds are also rich in protein, which also has been found to promote satiety and weight loss (6).
2. Rich In Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Chia seeds are one of the few types of seeds that are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids (7). And the importance of omega-3 is not unknown. In fact, a study conducted by The University of Arizona on broiler chicks had recorded an improvement in fatty acid content and growth performance following the intake of omega-3s (8).
3. Prevent Constipation
Since they are packed with fiber, especially insoluble fiber, chia seeds turn into a gel when they come in contact with water. This adds to your stool and aids bowel movements, thereby relieving constipation (9). Fiber also has been found to improve digestion.
4. Regulate Blood Sugar Levels And Help Prevent Diabetes
Chia’s ability to slow down digestion can be linked to diabetes prevention. The gelatinous coating chia seeds develop can also prevent spikes in the blood sugar levels (10).
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, chia is one of those foods considered to be useful in diabetes treatment (11). The seeds were also found to improve the blood pressure levels in diabetics (12).
Another reason chia can be good for diabetics is the presence of omega-3 fatty acids that are known to be nutritionally important for the treatment of the disease (13).
5. Fight Breast Cancer And Other Forms Of Cancer
As per a report published by the UCSF Medical Center, chia seeds are a good source of alpha-linoleic acid, which can help prevent breast cancer (14). The same goes for omega-3 fatty acids as well.
The chia seeds oil was also found to have anti-cancer properties. It appeared to reduce tumor growth and inhibit the replication of cancer cells.
6. Help Lower Cholesterol
The omega-3 fatty acids get the credit, again. These fatty acids help lower blood cholesterol and prevent coronary heart disease in the process (15). The monounsaturated fats in chia seeds help lower the cholesterol levels (16). The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also states that adding chia seeds to the diet can keep a check on the cholesterol levels (17).
7. Improve Cardiovascular Health
Chia Seeds BenefitsPinit
According to a report published by the West Virginia University, the chia seeds omega-3 fatty acids content can enhance heart health and prevent any heart-related ailments (18).
The omega-3s also reduce triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. In addition, they reduce the risk of irregular heartbeat, lower blood pressure, and slow down the accumulation of arterial plaque (19).
8. Boost Energy And Metabolism
Chia seeds are packed with B vitamins, zinc, iron, and magnesium – all of which help boost energy (20). You can add the seeds to your favorite smoothie and enjoy a refreshing burst of energy. As per a report published by the University of New Hampshire, chia seeds can also boost your metabolism (21).
9. Can Be Used As A Workout Drink
Workouts can get tiring at times. But with chia seeds, that shouldn’t be a problem anymore. Given the amount of omega-3s they contain, chia seeds can be used for sustaining energy.
Taking chia seeds a few hours before an intense workout can provide fuel to the body after the carbs burn off. Chia seeds, when taken after working out, can provide protein that helps repair tissues.
10. Packed With Protein
We don’t have to discuss the importance of protein, do we? Chia seeds are a great source of protein. As per a Brazilian study, chia seeds had shown great protein quality (22). They also had improved the lipid profiles (cholesterol levels, basically) in rats.
Chia seeds contain 19% protein. And according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a high-protein diet can reduce hunger and encourage satiety (23). The seeds contain high-quality protein with all the necessary amino acids (24).
11. Enhance Mood
Chia, considered a superfood, is believed to enhance your mood upon regular consumption (25). As per a Pittsburgh study, omega-3 fatty acids are associated with improved mood and behavior (26). Consuming chia seeds might also help you combat depression.
12. Rich In Antioxidants
We all know how important antioxidants are. And chia seeds have them in abundance (27). The antioxidants are not only good for the cells, but for the skin as well – as they help slow down the signs of aging (28). The antioxidants in chia seeds have also been found to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease (29). A high antioxidant content is what makes chia seeds more shelf-stable than other seeds (30).
13. Good For Bones And Teeth
One study has shown that increased consumption of calcium-rich foods, like chia seeds, can improve skeletal health (31). Consumption of chia seeds is also considered an effective way to improve calcium intake (32).
In addition to calcium, chia seeds are also rich in manganese – both of which are crucial for maintaining strong bones and teeth (33).
Chia seeds are also rich in phosphorus, a mineral that has been found to enhance bone health (34). The presence of antioxidants in chia seeds can also protect your teeth from damage (35).
14. Can Improve Skin Health
The omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds have been found to increase circulation and reduce dryness and skin inflammation (36). And as per a Manchester study, omega-3s help protect the skin from UV radiation (37). Chia seeds contain anti-inflammatory properties that could help prevent wrinkles (38). The seeds also help reduce skin sagging.
15. Can Treat Dyslipidemia
Dyslipidemia is a metabolic disorder where there is an abnormal amount of cholesterol in the blood. As per a study, chia seeds were found to mitigate this condition (39). In another Argentine study, the alpha-linoleic acid in chia seeds had improved the condition of rats suffering from dyslipidemia (40). In addition to treating dyslipidemia, chia seeds were also found to increase the levels of HDL or good cholesterol.
16. Help Treat Diverticulosis
Diverticulosis is the presence of tube-like structures in the intestine with no signs of inflammation. Chia seeds, simply because they are vegetarian and rich in omega-3s, are found to help prevent diverticular disease (41).
Lack of fiber has also been linked to diverticulosis – and chia seeds, being an excellent source of fiber, can help treat this condition (42). They absorb the water in the colon and smoothen the bowel movements.
17. Can Be Used As A Substitute For Eggs
If you think you want protein but don’t take eggs, you have some good news! You can use chia seeds as a substitute for eggs.
The process is simple. All you need are a tablespoon of chia seeds and 3 tablespoons of water. Ground the chia seeds, and then mix them with water in a small bowl. Keep it aside for 5 minutes, post which the mixture takes on a gooey consistency – similar to raw egg yolk. You can add this to your dishes and enjoy the goodness of high-quality protein.
18. Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The presence of omega-3s, fiber, and protein make chia seeds one of the best anti-inflammatory foods out there (43). The anti-inflammatory properties of chia seeds can also aid in the treatment of arthritis (44).
19. Are Gluten-Free
Gluten is the protein present in cereal grains, especially wheat, and is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. In certain individuals, gluten is known to cause allergies and gluten intolerance. However, with chia seeds, it’s a different scenario. It is 100% gluten-free.
It is particularly helpful in gluten-free baking. Chia seeds are especially beneficial for individuals suffering from celiac disease. As per studies, people with celiac disease tend to consume less calcium and fiber than recommended – and chia seeds, being rich in these two nutrients, can bridge the gap.
20. Rich In Manganese
In addition to numerous other nutrients, chia seeds are also rich in manganese (45). Manganese might help in the treatment of arthritis, diabetes, and epilepsy (46). Manganese also has excellent antioxidant properties. It improves metabolism and accelerates wound healing (47).
21. Rich In Magnesium
One serving of chia seeds contains 30% of the RDA of magnesium. The mineral has several benefits – a few them include treatment of hypertension and heart disease, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes (48).
Magnesium also helps in the production of energy in the body, and a lack of it can cause fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and poor memory (49).
22. Improve Sleep
There are two hormones that are essential for sleep – serotonin and melatonin. These two hormones are produced by tryptophan, an amino acid in the body. Chia seeds, being high in tryptophan, aid good sleep and relaxation (50). According to an American study, tryptophan is also used for treating numerous sleep disorders (51).
How Much Chia Seeds Per Day?
Usually, you can take 20 grams of chia seeds (1 ½ tablespoons) twice a day. You can add the seeds to your food or snack and enjoy – and when you do that, believe me, you will be blessed with the following benefits.
What we have seen is just the tip of the iceberg (or probably not even that). What we are going to see next is the real deal – the numerous benefits of chia seeds you would have never known before.
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