A seed you may be missing out on regularly with your diet plan in favor of nuts and even other seeds is the chia seed. We tend to eat peanuts, almonds, cashews, along with pumpkin and sesame seeds instead.
But chia seeds deserve your attention. This seed brings many benefits with it and if you are into healthy eating, this is one that deserves to get noticed.
So what are chia seeds and why are they so special? Let’s take a closer look so you don’t have to miss out on their benefits any longer.
What Are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are often deemed a superfood by many health gurus because of all the many benefits they pack inside such a tiny package. They come from a flowering plant that is part of the mint family and is grown in Mexico as well as Guatemala.
If you are a vegetarian, you are probably already quite familiar with chia seeds because when combined with water, they will actually form a sort of gel substance that can be used as a great replacement for eggs when cooking.
As both chia seeds and eggs deliver fat and moisture to the recipe when used this way, they offer a vegetarian-friendly means of getting baked goods into your diet without having to resort to becoming a vegetarian in name only.
Even if you aren’t a vegetarian however, you can still greatly benefit from including chia seeds in your diet regularly. They’ll help so many areas of your body that no matter your age, gender, or health background, they have something for everyone.
In every ounce of chia seeds you consume, you’ll take in:
· 12.3 grams of carbohydrates, of which 10.6 grams are coming from heart-healthy dietary fiber
· 137 calories
· 4.4 grams of protein
· 8.6 grams of dietary fat
· Important micronutrients such as manganese, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, copper, as well as potassium.
Because they contain a nice balanced mix of carbohydrates, and protein, they make for a great way to help stabilize blood glucose levels and do tend to be a staple of a vegetarian diet plan.
Let’s now get to the benefits.
Important Source Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The first great thing about chia seeds is the fact that they are a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids. Most people are not getting enough omega- 3 fatty acids in their diet despite the ongoing education about the importance of these powerful fats.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential fat, meaning they cannot be created by the body on its own, therefore they must come from food or supplementation.
Omega-3 fatty acids can do so many things. Some of these include:
· Improving your heart health and reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease
· Enhancing your brain health and helping to combat the typical age-related memory decline that can occur
· Reducing the level of inflammation that may be present in your body, thus decreasing your risk for chronic pain as well as many ill health states
· Helping to keep your immune system stronger so you can defend against illness on a day to day basis
Chia seeds are about 20% total ALA fat, which is an important omega-3 fatty acid that we all need to take in.
If you aren’t currently supplementing with a fish oil supplement or eating salmon regularly in your diet, both of which are great sources, consider what chia seeds can offer you.
Better Skin Health
Another benefit that you’ll likely notice upon starting to include chia seeds more often in your regular diet plan is that they help promote healthier looking skin.
This is thanks to the fact that chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants1 and this means they are very powerful for keeping your skin clear, radiant, and giving you that glow you may have been missing for quite some time.
Antioxidants help prevent free radicals, which you encounter each and every day, from the aging of your body – including your skin, so it may even help you fend off those wrinkles that you so desperately want to avoid as well.
In recent research, it’s been noted that chia seeds may have more than double the number of antioxidants that researchers first reported them to have, illustrating just how very powerful this food really is.
Chances are, digestion is something that you can definitely use a helping hand with. When tummy troubles strike, you want nothing but to feel better fast. Few things are as debilitating as an upset stomach is.
If you’re someone who suffers from chronic indigestion, you may be getting to a point where you just fear eating entirely. This is a sad way to live your life – especially when food is something that can bring so much pleasure to your day – when help is available.
Chai seeds, thanks to the fact they are filled with dietary fiber can help to keep your digestive system strong and help promote regularity. Both constipation, as well as diarrhea, are two quite serious matters that will not only have you feeling miserable, but also take quite a toll on your overall health as well.
What’s more, chia seeds also provide prebiotics to help the healthy bacteria (the probiotics) that reside in your gut and keep your digestive system and entire body feeling well.
One thing many people don’t realize is that your immune system is primarily located in your gut and in order for you to have a strong immune system, those bacteria need to be thriving.
If you often find yourself falling ill or simply just feel very run down on a day to day basis, it may be because you don’t have a healthy supply of probiotics in your gut.
Chia seeds can help remedy this problem by providing the food those bacteria feed on, helping them grow in numbers2.
Of course, though, you do need to have those bacteria there in the first place as well. That’s why we also recommend taking a high-quality probiotic supplement such as P3-OM to maximize your supply. When you pair these two together, you have an unbeatable combination that will get you feeling your best in no time.
Better Heart Health
Along with providing you the omega-3 fatty acids we noted above that will help to boost your heart health, chia seeds also help support a healthier heart in other ways as well.
First, because they are rich in dietary fiber, this will help to support lower and healthier cholesterol levels. As cholesterol plays a key role in regulating your heart disease risk profile, it’s important to pay attention to.
Additionally, chia seeds can help lower the overall level of inflammation taking place in the vessels leading to and from the heart, which helps support healthier blood flow and a reduced risk of heart attack3.
Eating a high fiber diet is a must if you are hoping to minimize your risk of heart disease and chia seeds go a long way towards helping you get that fiber in that you need.
Assistance With Preventing Diabetes
Diabetes is one condition that is becoming more and more prevalent today as our society is getting more hooked than ever on sugar and processed foods.
This is taking a toll on our insulin levels as well as our blood glucose and eventually, can send you down a spiral to diabetes. The good news is there are many foods that can help stabilize your blood glucose levels, so it’s not like you need to cut out all carbohydrates.
Some people mistakenly believe that all carbs simply need to be removed from your diet entirely, but this isn’t so. You do need to minimize how many simple carbs you eat, but you don’t need to remove them entirely.
Chia seeds help you control your blood glucose levels in three different ways. First, the dietary fiber will help slow down the release of sugar in the bloodstream as it creates bulk as it transports down the small and large intestines. The slower that food moves, the fewer chances it has for spiking blood glucose levels.
Next, because chia seeds are also a great source of healthy fat content, this helps slow down the release of glucose even further. Whenever you can pair healthy fats with some carbs, you’ll blunt that response you get from carbohydrates.
Do note, however, you want to avoid eating a very high dose of carbs together with a very high dose of dietary fats. Some fats with a few carbs are okay, but avoid going overboard.
The reason being if you take in a high amount of total energy, your body will have more than enough of what it needs from the carbohydrates to meet it’s current energy demands, meaning that dietary fat, even if it does slow down the release of sugar in the bloodstream has a very good chance of going directly to body fat stores.
So moderation is key.
Most people should consume no more than about 250-400 calories from both carbs and fats combined in a sitting (leaving another 100-150 calories to come from protein).
Bone Boosting Calcium
Chia seeds also provide a good dose of calcium to the body as well, which is an important mineral you need to keep your bones strong and healthy. While they won’t contain as much calcium like a glass of milk would, if you are someone who can’t tolerate dairy (and if that is the case, consider MassZymes, which is a digestive enzyme that can help ease those dairy issues), then chia seeds can be a good replacement4.
It’s important to remember that what you do now will impact your bone health into the future, so do your best to ensure that you are eating right before it becomes an issue for you.
If you eat one ounce of chia seeds, you’ll take in 18% of your total calcium requirements for the day, plus also get 30% of your manganese requirements as well, both of which are great for keeping your bone density up and your skeletal system strong.
Better Weight Loss Results
If you want to see superior weight loss results, count on chia seeds to provide you with that extra help you may need. They provide excellent appetite relief thanks to the fact they contain both proteins as well as dietary fiber, and the bit of extra fat you’ll get in them doesn’t hurt either.
While they are a bit more calorie dense than other foods out there given the fact they are rich in healthy fats, as long as you keep your portion sizes under control, there is no reason you shouldn’t be adding them to your fat loss diet plan.
You might find that they help get your food cravings under control far better than other foods that are higher in total volume but just leave you hungry for more food immediately after.
Hunger is an interesting thing because in many cases it is going to be dependent upon how much total food you put into your stomach. But it is also determined by the type of food as well. The macronutrients do play a key role, so that cannot be overlooked.
To get maximum hunger control from a low volume food like chia seeds, pair it with some vegetables or something higher in volume but low in calories. This way, you’ll still get the hunger control that chia seeds provide but also still benefit from the stretch reflex that will take place in the stomach (triggering the relief of hunger).
May Help Combat Cancer
Finally, one last great benefit that chia seeds may help you with is combating the development of cancer5. ALA fatty acids, which are the omega-3 fatty acid found in chia seeds can help to reduce the growth of both breast and cervical cancer, so it may be very important for women to consume especially.
There is still ongoing research being done on how chia seeds may impact other cancer varieties, but from the information we have now, it does appear to be very promising.
So don’t overlook chia seeds in your diet any longer. As you can see, they are a superfood worth taking advantage of whenever you can.
To help you get started, here are a few recipes.
Healthy Chia Seed Pudding
6 tbsp. chia seeds
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. organic honey
1 tbsp. unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup blueberries
In a container with a lid, mix together the chia seeds, milk, honey, and vanilla. Put the lid on and shake to combine. Let sit for about five minutes and then shake or stir again. Place this in the fridge to set for 1-2 hours (or longer if you have the time). Once ready to serve, stir in the coconut flakes and blueberries.
Pumpkin Pie Chia Seed Oats
1 cup of coconut milk
1/3 cup steel cut oats
¼ cup pumpkin puree
¼ tbsp. chia seeds
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
salt to taste
½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
sprinkling of cinnamon
1 tbsp. powdered stevia
Pour the coconut milk into a pot and bring to a boil. Add the oats and then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the pumpkin puree and chia seeds and cook for about 6-7 minutes.
Add in the remaining ingredients and then stir until well mixed. Cook for another 5-7 minutes or until oats have finished cooking and desired tenderness is reached.
Frequently Asked Questions
What benefits do chia seeds have?
Chia seeds are great for stabilizing blood glucose levels, keeping your heart healthy, and for keeping your immune system strong through boosting your overall gut health.
Does chia seeds really help you lose weight?
Because chia seeds are a great source of fiber, protein, and healthy fats, when eaten in moderation, they can go a long way towards helping boost your appetite control.
Is it bad to eat chia seeds every day?
While you should focus on eating all things in moderation, if you eat a small dose of chia seeds daily, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Do chia seeds make you poop?
Yes, because chia seeds are a rich source of fiber and can support regularity, you might find an easier time using the bathroom after having them.
1. Taga, M. Silvia, E. E. Miller, and D. E. Pratt. “Chia seeds as a source of natural lipid antioxidants.” Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society 61.5 (1984): 928-931.
2. Suri, Sukhneet, Santosh Jain Passi, and Jyoti Goyat. “Chia Seed (Salvia hispanica L.)–A new age functional food.” 4th International Conference on Recent Innovations in Science Engineering and Management. India International Centre, New Delhi. 2016
3. Marcinek, Katarzyna, and Zbigniew Krejpcio. “Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica): health-promoting properties and therapeutic applications-a review.” Roczniki Państwowego Zakładu Higieny 68.2 (2017).
4. O’Keefe, James H., et al. “Nutritional strategies for skeletal and cardiovascular health: hard bones, soft arteries, rather than vice versa.” Open Heart 3.1 (2016): e000325.5. Muñoz, Loreto A., et al. “Chia seed (Salvia hispanica): an ancient grain and a new functional food.” Food reviews international 29.4 (2013): 394-408.