Once consumed by the Mayans and Aztecs as a source of vitality and strength, the modern superfood known as Chia seeds is one health trend that lives up to its hype. Harvested from the South American Salvia Hispanica plant, Chia seeds are ounce-for-ounce one of the most potent sources of vitamins and nutrients in the natural world. Chia seeds have been scientifically proven to possess a number of health benefits for both mind and body.
Here we take a look at the top ten reasons to add Chia seeds to your shopping list.
1. Loaded with Nutrients
Chia seeds pack a huge nutrient punch for their tiny size. Just one ounce of chia seeds – that’s 28 grams or about 2 tablespoons – contains almost 180 mg of calcium. That’s 18% of the recommended daily amount needed by the average adult to maintain the healthy functioning of skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. A one ounce serving of Chia seeds is also packed with manganese and phosphorus. These two minerals aid the body in maintaining strong bones, proper digestion, and cell regeneration. As if that weren’t enough, Chia seeds also contain small amounts of potassium, copper, zinc, several B vitamins, and many other trace minerals.
Weighing in at only 137 calories per ounce – 36 of which are from fiber and thus aren’t digested – Chia seeds offer all of their many health benefits without much danger of damaging a healthy low-calorie diet. Chia seeds have almost no flavor, so they may be added to just about anything without impacting the taste. Mix in a tablespoon of Chia seeds with cold or hot cereals, yogurt, juice, or try them in one of these 24 Healthy Smoothies with Chia Seeds.
3. Antioxidant Power
Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants that defend our bodies against free radicals – oxidation that causes cell damage, aging, and in some cases cancer. As with many vitamins and nutrients, our bodies absorb these antioxidants better when we obtain them from food rather than supplements. As one of the most concentrated sources of antioxidants in the natural world, Chia seeds should be a part of everyone’s daily diet.
Also as an added bonus, high levels of antioxidants in Chia seeds keep them from spoiling, so you can safely buy Chia seeds in bulk and store them away until you’re ready to use them.
4. High in Protein
Chia seeds contain 4g of protein per 28g serving. While this isn’t at the top of the list as far as vegetarian sources of protein are concerned, it’s still a moderate amount. Also, the proteins contained in Chia seeds encompass a well-balanced list of essential amino acids which the human body needs to maintain optimum health, but cannot synthesize on its own.
When combined with all of their other health benefits, this moderate amount of protein makes Chia seeds gram-for-gram one of the most nutritious “superfoods” available.
5. Aids Digestion
One ounce of Chia seeds contains a whopping 11g of fiber – one of the highest concentrations of any natural food source. Fiber has a long list of health benefits, not the least of which is to aid in digestion. Fiber feeds the good microflora that live in the human digestive tract. Healthy gut bacteria means better nutrient absorption and overall well-being.
6. Lose Weight
Good news for those wanting to lose weight: the fiber in Chia seeds absorbs a lot of water, meaning they can take up a lot of space in your stomach. Eating a spoonful of Chia seeds before a meal or as part of a snack can help you to feel fuller faster and keep your portion size under control. Also, because Chia seeds aid in digestion, you will get more nutrients out of the food you do eat. More nutrients means more energy and less hunger cravings.
Furthermore, of the 12g of carbohydrates in Chia seeds, 11g of those carbs come from fiber. For those counting carbohydrates, a one ounce serving of Chia seeds offers all of its amazing health benefits with only 1g of digestible carbs!
Finally, the protein in Chia seeds can help you to maintain steady blood-sugar throughout the day and cut back on the urge to snack or overeat. So it may not be the magic diet-pill to help you lose 20 pounds in one week, but it is fairly easy to see how this powerful little “superfood” can be a boon to any weight-loss plan.
Further Reading: 10 Natural Cheats To Rev Up Your Metabolism & Burn More Calories
7. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
While the Omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish are still processed more efficiently than those found in plants, Chia seeds are an excellent vegetarian source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Unlike flax seeds – the more well-known Omega-3 seed – Chia doesn’t have to be ground into meal for our bodies to obtain the nutrients within. This makes Chia seeds a far more accessible and convenient option as a vegetarian Omega-3 fatty acid source.
8. Improve Cardiovascular Health
When included in a heart-healthy diet, the fiber and essential fatty acids in Chia seeds may help to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while improving “good” HDL cholesterol.
Also, studies have shown that getting the right amount of cardiovascular exercise each week can seriously reduce the risk of many cardiovascular diseases. The boost of protein and nutrients offered by Chia seeds can help you to maintain a steady high energy level throughout the day making it much easier to feel up to that post-work workout that many people may otherwise skip.
9. Reduces Blood Pressure & Inflammation
In one study performed over the course of twelve weeks, it was shown that consuming about 37g of Chia seeds per day can have a positive effect on blood pressure and may also reduce vascular inflammation that can lead to critical illness. At the end of the study, subjects who ate Chia seeds every day saw a decrease in systolic blood pressure of around 6.3 mmHg. The same study also measured a 40% reduction of the inflammation indicator known as hs-CRP or high-sensitivity C-reactive protein in the blood of those subjects who ate the 37g of Chia seeds every day.
10. Fight Against Diabetes
There are currently many ongoing studies regarding Chia seeds as a natural measure to treat type-2 diabetes. Previously mentioned, Chia seeds help to regulate blood-sugar levels. When eaten, these tiny seeds form a coating inside the stomach and intestines that slow the digestion and absorption of sugar into the blood stream. For diabetics, this means better blood-glucose regulation and less chance of illness from hypoglycemia / hyperglycemia.
In addition to slowing sugar absorption, Chia seeds also contain Alpha-lipoic acid. This antioxidant can help to alleviate the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy – numbness, tingling, pain, burning, and itching in the extremities.