Chia seeds may be tiny, but they are a superfood that packs a lot of punch. Check out these 11 crazy awesome benefits of chia seeds and see how you can easily add this nutritional seed to your diet.
While I’ve always loved the crunchiness of chia seeds in salads, when I tried making chocolate chia pudding, I realized I liked the texture of them when they were softened, too.
And mixing them in with other good-for-you foods like dates, almond milk, and fruit (yes, fruit – try my yummy chia jam!) makes this tiny seed even a healthier addition to your food.
Oh, and did I mention I love blueberry vanilla chia pudding, too?
Man, chia seeds are so awesome.
Chia seeds are super versatile, easy to add to your favorite dishes, and heck, they can even replace an egg in a lot of recipes.
I’m not kidding. Here’s how you do it:
- Take a tablespoon of chia seeds and place in a bowl
- Add 3 tablespoons of water to the seeds
- Wait 5 minutes, and you’ve got an awesome egg replacement!
But, let’s get back to the nutrition and the benefits of chia seeds.
It’s kinda hard to imagine that a small seed can pack such a healthy punch. Let’s dive right in and figure it out!
WHAT ARE CHIA SEEDS?
The chia seed comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica. The plant is native to Mexico, and it dates way back. Aztec and Mayan cultures knew of the chia seed’s remarkable properties and used it as an energy booster.
Fast forward to when we were kids, and the Chia Pet was all the rage. Don’t pretend you either had one or wanted one!
Yep, we all had one of these amazing creatures who sprouted “hair” within days. Who knew the mighty chia pet would play a role in nutrition a few years later?
So yes, nowadays, the chia seed is a healthy addition to the diet and is touted as a mild and nutty flavored food to mix into baked goods or pour into a delicious smoothie.
WHAT ARE THE NUTRIENTS IN CHIA SEEDS?
Chia seeds have a lot to offer. And that’s why they have the reputation they do. Look at this quick analysis of 2 tablespoons of seeds:
- 140 calories
- 11 grams of fiber
- 4 grams of protein
- 7 grams of unsaturated fat
- Traces of copper and zinc
- A source of omega-3’s
- A source of vitamins C and E
Like, crazy good for ya, right?!?!?
DO CHIA SEEDS HELP WITH INFLAMMATION?
Chia seeds are high in a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, known to have an effect on inflammation. It’s called alpha-linolenic acid and is important to a healthy heart. A study on chia seeds confirmed that consuming 37 grams of chia seeds a day led to a reduction in inflammatory markers in the blood.
Thirty-seven grams is a lot in one day (a little over half a cup), but the findings are still significant. I should point out that when taking chia seeds, it is best to use them in softened form, such as in a smoothie or pudding. Dried chia seeds sprinkled on a dessert or salad is fine, too!
HOW MUCH CHIA SEEDS SHOULD YOU EAT IN A DAY?
Depending on your gender and age, you should eat between 19 and 38 grams of fiber per day. Around 25 grams is ideal for women. Two tablespoons of chia seeds have 11 grams of fiber. Recommendations for consuming chia seeds runs about 1.5 teaspoons a day (add the seeds to oatmeal and a smoothie, and you’re all set). Then, get the rest from other great sources of fiber, like beets, tomatoes, and broccoli.
WHAT ARE THE BEST WAYS TO EAT CHIA SEEDS?
There are several excellent ways to eat chia seeds. As previously mentioned, don’t eat them dry other than sprinkled on a salad. Here are some tasty ideas:
- Add to muffins
- Stir into salad dressings and marinades
- Thicken smoothies and soups
- Add to overnight oats
- Make puddings and jams
- Use as an egg substitute in baking
CHIA SEEDS ADD A NUTRITIONAL BOOST QUICKLY AND EASILY
One of the best benefits of chia seeds is that they are so simple to incorporate into your diet. You don’t need to grind them (like flax seeds for example) to make them digestible. They mix well with liquids, and they are a simple but quick addition of nutrients to a variety of foods.
One thing to note, because they are so high in fiber, it’s best to add them to your daily regimen slowly. If you typically eat a lot of fiber, you’ll be okay.
CHIA SEEDS HELP WITH CHRONIC INFLAMMATION
We all know that inflammation is bad for the body overall. Chronic inflammation, often brought on by unhealthy eating habits and lack of exercise, can wreak havoc on the body. Chia seeds are anti-inflammatory, and that means adding them to your diet helps fight cancer and other illnesses like heart disease.
CHIA SEEDS MAY HELP REDUCE BLOOD SUGAR
Another benefit of chia seeds is that they can stabilize blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity. This reduces the chance of spikes and crashes sometimes experienced after meals. This is of great help to diabetics, in particular. Pair adding chia seeds to smoothies, dressings, and food like oatmeal with eating non-processed foods. Doing so will be very good for you in the long run.
CHIA SEEDS ARE GOOD FOR BONE HEALTH
It’s kinda cool that this little powerhouse seed has so many nutrients like phosphorous, protein, and calcium. It’s the calcium in chia seeds that will benefit your bones. A controlled study indicated that bone health and density were improved when the diet was supplemented with chia seeds.
CHIA SEEDS CAN REDUCE HEART DISEASE RISK
Heart disease is influenced by a lot of factors, including inflammation, extra body fat, and high blood pressure. Studies show that chia seeds can influence blood pressure levels, thus leading to better health. Exercise, eating healthy fruits and veggies, consuming only lean meats, and yes, eating chia seeds contribute to a better you.
CHIA SEEDS CONTAIN BENEFICIAL FATTY ACIDS
Yes, chia seeds do contain omega-3’s, and this is a good thing. Milled chia seeds, in particular, can increase the blood levels of alpha-linolenic fatty acids (ALA). However, it is most beneficial to get these fatty acids, and others, from fatty fish like salmon. I say this because although chia seeds supply EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is not easily converted, and that is the most essentials of the omega-3’s. Still, chia seeds will give you a boost as they are considered the best plant-based source of ALA.
CHIA SEEDS MAY HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS
Because chia seeds are high in protein and fiber, they are thought to be helpful with weight loss. Protein is known to reduce appetite and leave you feeling satisfied, which means less snacking on potentially unhealthy foods. If you are a snacker, read my post on healthy, high-protein snacks. The fiber in chia seeds can also help you to feel full.
CHIA SEEDS ARE A GOOD SOURCE OF PLANT-BASED PROTEIN
Protein is made up of amino acids and is essential to the body. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 4 grams of protein. A 140-pound person needs about 50 grams of protein a day, and a 200-pound person, 70 grams. Use chia seeds as a way to top up your protein intake, along with lean meats, poultry, and full-fat dairy.
CHIA SEEDS ARE HIGH IN FIBER
Chia seeds are impressively high in fiber. Fiber is excellent for gut health. Remember, two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 11 grams of fiber – almost half the daily requirement for women and about a third for men. Adding chia seeds to food is an easy way to add this important component to your food.
CHIA SEEDS ARE HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants are key cancer-fighting components in food. They fight free radicals, which cause damage to cells, proteins, and DNA. With chia seeds being high in antioxidants, it just makes sense to add them to foods as much as you can. As a side note, foods high in free radicals are those deficient in antioxidants – processed meats and foods highly processed or full of sugar are examples. So, stay away from those and satisfy your cravings with clean-eating foods instead.
CHIA SEEDS ARE A NUTRITIONAL POWERHOUSE
On top of all of the benefits of chia seeds we’ve mentioned, these little seeds pack a punch when it comes to nutrients. And the great thing is, you get a lot of goodness in a small amount. One ounce of chia seeds has 11 grams of fiber, for instance. If you make a serving of cinnamon raisin overnight oats, you’ll get 5.5 grams of fiber in that one serving.
Not to mention other good-for-you nutrients like manganese, calcium, and protein. They are gluten-free and easily digestible. It’s all win-win with chia seeds.
MORE HEALTHY FOODS WITH ADDED NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS
Isn’t leading a healthy lifestyle great? I betcha you are feeling better every day. To keep the ball rolling, read these helpful guides, too!
- 21 Top Foods High in Fiber | How and Why to Get More Fiber in Your Diet
- 10 Amazing Benefits of Turmeric | More Than Just for Inflammation!
- Does Intermittent Fasting Work for Weight Loss? Beginner’s Guide to Intermittent Fasting
- 10 Benefits of Eggs and Why You Should Eat Them More Often!
- 19 Benefits of Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar + How to Drink It
- Eating Clean for Beginners
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