Chia seeds are well known as the most beneficial plant seeds used nowadays. It is filled with many nutrients including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These are most commonly obtained from Salvia Hispanica of the Lamiaceae (mint) family. They are an excellent source of antioxidants, linolenic acid, iron, omega-3 fatty acid, and calcium as well. Chia seeds benefits include maintaining good health of the heart, preventing stroke, helping in weight loss, blood pressure management and keeping cholesterol levels within the normal range. Loaded with so much of nutrients chia seeds benefits us in far more different ways that we could ever imagine.
They are initially grown in their native place Mexico and some of its family variant is also used for medicinal benefits. Chia seeds were known as “runners food” due to their energy-boosting property. They helped the runner in maintaining their strength and speed for a reasonable amount of time.
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What makes chia seeds beneficial?
The many chia seeds benefits come from the presence of the following:
Chia seeds nutrition facts
Chia seeds are no less than a superfood. It is all because of the nutrients present in it. It is rich in fiber, omega-3 fatty acid, vitamins and minerals.
Half tablespoon and one ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contains: (1)
|Nutrient||Half Tbsp = 7.5g||Value per 28 g|
|Energy||35 kcal||131 kcal|
|Protein||1.5 g||5.6 g|
|Total lipid (fat)||2.25 g||8.4 g|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||3.5 g||13.07 g|
|Fiber, total dietary||3 g||11.2 g|
|Sugars, total||0 g||0 g|
|Calcium, Ca||50 mg||187 mg|
|Iron, Fe||2.16 mg||8.06 mg|
|Sodium, Na||0 mg||0 mg|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||3.6 mg||13.4 mg|
|Vitamin A, IU||0 IU||0 IU|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||0 g||0 g|
|Fatty acids, total trans||0 g||0 g|
|Cholesterol||0 mg||0 mg|
Source: USDA Branded Food Products Database Release v0.0 March 2018 Software v.3.9.1 2018-04-10
Chia seeds also contain many other essential nutrients like linoleic acid and linolenic acid, some different Vitamins such as A, C. They are a rich source of antioxidants and thus act as anti-aging material.
Rich in Fiber
Chia seeds are 40% fiber in weight and thus have plentiful benefits, fiber goes through the stomach and intestine without being broken down, thus helping with digestion.
Fiber feeds the good bacteria in the intestine thus keeping the gut healthy. Also, when you consume chia seeds, the fiber makes you feel full and helps you with food cravings which can work wonders along with any weight loss diet you follow.
Chia seeds benefits the body due to its high content of antioxidants.
Oxidant by-products from the normal mechanism of the body damage the DNA, lipid, and protein over the years. The many aging issues such as heart diseases, cardiovascular diseases, reduction in immunity, etc. can be associated with it. (2)
High in protein
If you have ever gone on a weight-loss regime, or even if you maintain a healthy lifestyle, you’d know that protein is one of the most important considerations in your diet.
(4) Having protein-rich foods such as chia seeds can get you your dose of the essential amino acids and can also help reduce food cravings. For vegetarians who can’t have eggs, this is a good alternative.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Chia seeds are found to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids. However, the ALA present in chia seeds does not supply with DHA which is the most important omega-3 fat.
Therefore, it is better to go for other foods if you’re looking to include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. You may check out fish oil supplements if you’re a non-vegetarian.
Chia seeds benefits
As it has been stated earlier also that chia seeds are rich in many nutrients. Thus they benefit us in many different ways. Here are most useful benefits of chia seeds on the human body.
Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acid, mainly providing a high amount of linoleic acid. This essential fatty acid helps in lowering the blood pressure and blood cholesterol level by increasing HDL and decreasing LDL. (5)
This helps in the uptake of various vitamins like A, D, E and K. It helps in reducing inflammation and thus lowers the strain on blood vessel thereby minimizing the chances of heart diseases.
As inflammation is diminished so is the reduction in Atherosclerosis ( a medical condition with the formation of plaques in the blood vessel) and hence reduces the chances of stroke.
Skin health and aging
Chia seeds contain a remarkable amount of polyphenols which are antioxidants. They help in skin repair and prevent further skin damage due to free radicals. (6)
They help in avoiding inflammatory changes and thus restrains from premature aging. Chia seeds are said to contain twice the amount of antioxidants than blueberries which is helpful against stopping production of free radicals thus preventing cancer-like diseases and aging as well.
Chia seeds are rich in dietary fibers and fat content. They are known to maintain blood sugar level all due to their high fiber content and thus maintains insulin level.
They help in healthy bowel movement and smooth passage of stool. High fiber content makes you feel satiated and enables you to control your cravings.
When chia seed is ingested, it absorbs water and swells up in a gelatin-like material and acts as probiotic. This probiotic helps in the growth of gut flora which is beneficial for the health of the gut.
Helps control diabetes and lowers cholesterol level
Chia seeds contain fibers, omega-3 fatty acid, and alpha-linolenic acid. All this is known to help in dyslipidemia (increased fat cells in blood) and insulin resistance. According to a study conducted on Wistar rats published in British Journal of nutrition gave many astonishing results. (7)
This study was done in two parts. In the first one, the Wistar rats were fed on a sucrose-rich diet composed primarily of chia seeds for three months revealed no increase in blood sugar level.
While in the second part the newly diseased rats were fed with sucrose-rich diet and chia seeds for two months showed that dyslipidemia and insulin resistance got cured.
This study showed that how chia seeds benefits the blood sugar and lipid profile.
Chia seeds are known to boost your metabolism and meet your increased energy demands. According to a study when athletes were given energy drink and their time as compared to those who took half the amount of energy drink and half of chia seed water.
They had equal running time, and the one with chia seeds supplement ingested less sugar content as well. Hence it was proved that chia seeds are an energy booster and metabolism enhancer as well. (8)
Chia seeds are known to provide 18% of daily requirement of calcium need by the body. To maintain the power of our bones all we need is calcium and phosphorus mainly.
It also contains boron which helps in the absorption of phosphorus and some other minerals and thus helps in making our bones strong and healthy.
Helps in weight loss
Chia seeds are a rich source of protein and fibers. The most important feature of chia seeds is that is can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water.
Thus they increase hydration and absorption of various minerals. And slows down the emptying of the stomach. This helps you control your cravings and prevents you from unnecessary weight gain. (9)
There is no clear-cut boundary of weight loss by chia seeds, but if you follow a strict diet along with the chia seeds intake, a good result can plainly be seen.
As already told chia seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) a kind of omega-3 fatty acid. This stops the growth of the cancerous cell in an uncontrolled manner.
Along with that, it promotes apoptosis which is a kind of programmed cell death and thus prevents the occurrence of cancer without harming any other healthy body cell. Therefore it is also one of the superfoods which help in cancer prevention. (10)
Chia seeds contain the proper amount of calcium which is most useful substance for building the health of the tooth. There are many other components like magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and vitamin A present in chia seeds.
Zinc prevents formation and deposition of plaque on the tooth surface and stops bad breath too. Thus they are helpful in promoting good oral hygiene.
How should you consume chia seeds
Chia seeds can be taken in either way. When added to any recipe or smoothies and cookies they give a nutty and crunchy flavour to the dish.
But if you will make it as a whole, then its essential nutrient won’t be entirely available for their action. So to get most of the benefits you should take it in following forms:
Soaked and sprouted
When it comes to using chia seeds to its fullest, we need to soak it in water for around 2 hrs so that the seeds get swelled up and can release all its nutrients easily.
The chia seeds need to be crushed or ground into smaller parts so that it could get absorbed quickly. The ground seeds can be used to sprinkle over your smoothies or cookies. But when you grind it, you need to store it in a sealed glass bottle in your refrigerator.
Chia Seed Recipes
There are many ways in which you can use chia seeds in your favourite dishes. This will give your meal a tasty, nutty and crunchy flavour. This way you can take care of your taste buds and also of your health. Here are some of my favourite recipes including chia seeds in them:
- Orange and chia pudding
- Toasted oatmeal with mango chia crush
- Coconut chia pancakes
- Strawberries and cream chia pudding
Chia seeds side effects
Although there is not much reported side effects of chia seeds among the consumers. Some of them experience dehydration due to its water absorption capacity, and some have reported stomach discomfort.
(11) Once it was reported that chia seeds could increase the risk of prostate cancer in males but later on according to some other study this contradict proved bias.
Final thought on Chia seeds
Seeing the multiple chia seeds benefits, it can be called a superfood. They are richly supplied with lots of nutrients. Chia seeds can be eaten raw, soaked, sprouted or ground.
They keep you hydrated by absorbing water ten times that of its weight. Chia seeds benefits the body by helping promote the health of your skin, heart, digestive system, tooth and help you lose weight too.
Chia seeds can be taken in any form, but best is to make it in a ground or soaked form. You can use it either as such with water or can add it up in various recipes.
Remember to take lots of water with chia seeds. And yes don’t forget to take 1-2 spoons of chia seeds every day to take the advantage of the many Chia seeds benefits.