Chia seeds are one of the world’s healthiest foods. They’re high in nutrients, which can have a positive impact on your body and brain. Here are 11 scientifically proven health benefits of chia seeds.
1. Chia Seeds Provide a Massive Amount of Nutrients While Containing Very Few Calories
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds that grow on the Salvia hispanica plant, which is related to mint.
Chia seeds were a staple food for the Aztecs and Mayans centuries ago.
They admired them for their ability to provide long-term energy. In fact, the Mayan word for “strength” is “chia.”
Despite their long history as a dietary staple, chia seeds were only recently recognised as a modern-day superfood.
They have grown in popularity in recent years and are now consumed by health-conscious people all over the world.
Don’t be fooled by their small size; these tiny seeds pack a nutritional punch.
A one-ounce (28-gram) serving of chia seeds contains (1) of the following:
- 11 grammes of fibre
- 4 gramme protein
- 9 g of fat (5 of which are omega-3s).
- Calcium accounts for 18% of the RDI.
- Manganese content is 30% of the RDI.
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDI.
- 27 percent of the RDI for phosphorus.
- They are also high in zinc, vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine), and vitamin B2.
- This is especially impressive given that it is only one ounce, or 28 grammes, or about two tablespoons. This small portion contains only 137 calories and one gramme of digestible carbohydrate.
Surprisingly, after subtracting the fibre — the majority of which does not end up as usable calories for your body — chia seeds contain only 101 calories per ounce (28 grams).
This makes them, calorie for calorie, one of the best sources of several important nutrients in the world.
To top it all off, chia seeds are a whole-grain food that is typically grown organically. They’re also non-GMO and naturally gluten-free.
Despite their small size, chia seeds are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. They’re high in fibre, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other micronutrients.
2. Chia Seeds Are High in Antioxidants
Another aspect of chia seeds that stands out is their high antioxidant content.
These antioxidants keep the seeds’ sensitive fats from going rancid.
Though the benefits of antioxidant supplements are debatable, researchers agree that getting antioxidants from foods can have a positive impact on health.
Most importantly, antioxidants prevent the formation of free radicals, which can damage cell molecules and contribute to ageing and diseases such as cancer.
Chia seeds are high in antioxidants, which help protect the seeds’ delicate fats. They also have a variety of health benefits.
3. Almost all of the carbohydrates in them are fibre.
Chia seeds have 12 grammes of carbs per ounce (28 grammes). 11 of those grammes, however, are fibre, which your body does not digest.
Fiber neither raises blood sugar nor necessitates the use of insulin. Though it is a carbohydrate, its health effects are vastly different from those of digestible carbs such as starch and sugar.
The digestible carb content is very low at one gramme per ounce (28 grammes). As a result, chia is a low-carb food.
Chia seeds can absorb up to 10–12 times their weight in water due to their high soluble fibre content, becoming gel-like and expanding in your stomach.
In theory, this should increase fullness, slow absorption of your food, and help you eat fewer calories automatically.
Fiber also feeds the beneficial bacteria in your intestine, which is important because maintaining a healthy gut flora is essential for good health.
Chia seeds are 40% fibre by weight, making them one of the best fibre sources on the planet.
Fibre accounts for nearly all of the carbohydrates in chia seeds. This enables them to absorb 10–12 times their body weight in water. Fiber also has a number of health benefits.
4. Chia Seeds Contain a High Level of Protein
Chia seeds have a high protein content.
They contain about 14 percent protein by weight, which is very high when compared to most plants.
They also have a good balance of essential amino acids, which means your body should be able to utilise their protein content.
Protein has numerous health advantages and is by far the most weight loss-friendly dietary nutrient.
A high protein intake reduces appetite and has been shown to reduce obsessive food thoughts by 60% and the desire for nighttime snacking by 50%.
Chia seeds are an excellent source of protein, especially for people who consume little or no animal products.
Chia seeds have a much higher protein content than most plant foods. Protein is the most weight-loss-friendly macronutrient, with the ability to significantly reduce appetite and cravings.
5. Chia Seeds’ high fibre and protein content may aid in weight loss.
Many health experts believe that chia seeds can help people lose weight.
Its soluble fibre absorbs large amounts of water and expands in your stomach, increasing fullness and slowing food absorption.
Several studies have looked at the soluble fibre glucomannan, which works in a similar way, and found that it can help people lose weight.
Furthermore, the protein in chia seeds may help to reduce appetite and food intake.
In fact, one study discovered that eating chia seeds for breakfast increased satiety while decreasing food intake in the short term.
However, studies on the effectiveness of chia seeds for weight loss have yielded mixed results.
50 grammes of chia seeds per day for 12 weeks had no effect on body weight or health markers in a study of 90 overweight people.
Chia seeds had no effect on body weight in another 10-week study of 62 women, but they did increase the amount of omega-3 fat in the blood.
A 6-month study in obese people with type 2 diabetes on a low-calorie diet found that eating chia seeds daily resulted in significantly greater weight loss than a placebo.
Though chia seeds are unlikely to cause weight loss on their own, many experts believe they can be a beneficial addition to a weight loss diet.
A weight loss diet entails more than just a few foods. The entire diet, as well as other lifestyle behaviours such as sleep and exercise, are taken into account.
Chia seeds may help promote weight loss when combined with a real-food diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Chia seeds are high in protein and fibre, which have both been shown to help with weight loss. However, research on chia seeds has yielded conflicting results.
6. Chia Seeds Contain a High Level of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Chia seeds, like flaxseeds, are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
In fact, chia seeds have more omega-3s per gramme than salmon.
However, keep in mind that the omega-3s in them are mostly ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which isn’t as beneficial as you might think.
Before your body can use ALA, it must be converted into the active forms eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Unfortunately, humans are inefficient when it comes to converting ALA into these active forms.
As a result, plant omega-3s are far inferior to animal sources such as fish oil (21Trusted Source).
Chia seeds, especially when milled, have been shown in studies to increase blood levels of ALA and EPA but not DHA (19Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).
This has the potential to be a problem.
Because they lack DHA, the most important omega-3 fat, most experts consider chia seeds to be a lower-quality omega-3 source.
To get the DHA your body and brain require, eat fatty fish on a regular basis, take fish oil, or — if vegan or vegetarian — a plant-based DHA supplement.
Chia seeds contain a high concentration of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA. Humans, on the other hand, are not very good at converting this into DHA, the most important omega-3 fatty acid.
7. Chia Seeds Could Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
Because chia seeds are high in fibre, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, they may lower your risk of heart disease.
Several studies have looked into their benefits, but the results have been inconclusive.
Chia seeds have been shown in animal studies to reduce certain risk factors such as triglycerides, inflammation, insulin resistance, and belly fat. They may also increase “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
However, one human study found no improvement in risk factors.
Several studies have found that chia seeds significantly lower blood pressure in people who have hypertension, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Overall, chia seeds may be beneficial to heart health, but they are unlikely to have a significant impact unless combined with other beneficial lifestyle and dietary changes.
Chia seed research on heart disease risk factors has been inconclusive. Some studies indicate benefits, while others do not.
8. They are high in a variety of important bone nutrients.
Chia seeds are high in a variety of nutrients that are beneficial to bone health.
Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and protein are all part of this.
The calcium content is particularly impressive, with a single ounce containing 18% of the RDI (28 grams).
This is higher gramme for gramme than most dairy products. As a result, chia seeds may be regarded as an excellent source of calcium for those who do not consume dairy.
Chia seeds, on the other hand, contain phytic acid, which inhibits calcium absorption to some extent.
Chia seeds contain a lot of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and protein. These nutrients are all necessary for bone health.
9. Chia Seeds Have the Potential to Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Untreated type 2 diabetes is characterised by high fasting blood sugar levels.
High fasting blood sugar levels are linked to an increased risk of a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease.
Temporary spikes in blood sugar levels after meals, on the other hand, may have negative health consequences if they are excessively high on a regular basis.
Chia seeds have been shown in animal studies to improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, as well as to stabilise blood sugar levels after meals.
A few human studies back this up, demonstrating that eating bread with chia seeds reduces the post-meal rise in blood sugar compared to bread without chia.
According to research, chia seeds may reduce the rise in blood sugar after a high-carb meal, potentially benefiting people with type 2 diabetes.
10. They may help to reduce chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is the normal response of your body to infection or injury. A common symptom is red and swollen skin.
Although inflammation aids in the healing process and the fight against bacteria, viruses, and other infectious agents, it can also be harmful at times.
This is especially true for chronic inflammation, which has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.
Chronic inflammation often has no visible symptoms, but it can be detected by measuring inflammatory markers in your blood.
Smoking, a lack of exercise, and a poor diet are all unhealthy lifestyle habits that increase your risk of chronic inflammation.
Certain healthy foods, on the other hand, may lower blood levels of inflammatory markers.
In a three-month study of 20 people with diabetes, eating 37 grammes of chia seeds daily reduced the inflammatory marker hs-CRP by 40%. Those who received wheat bran, on the other hand, did not benefit significantly.
Other research on chia seeds has found no significant effects on inflammatory markers.
Consuming chia seeds may reduce an inflammatory marker known as hs-CRP, according to limited evidence. However, the health benefits are unknown, and more research is required.
11. Chia Seeds Are Simple to Include in Your Diet
Chia seeds are very simple to incorporate into your diet.
Because the seeds themselves are rather bland, you can use them in almost any recipe.
They also don’t have to be ground like flax seeds, making them much easier to prepare.
They can be consumed raw, soaked in juice, added to porridge, pudding, smoothies, or baked goods.
You can also add them to cereal, yoghurt, vegetables, or rice dishes.
They can be used to thicken sauces and as egg substitutes in recipes due to their ability to absorb both water and fat.
They can also be mixed with water to form a gel.
Adding chia seeds to recipes significantly increases their nutritional value.
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They appear to be well tolerated as well, but if you’re not used to eating a lot of fibre, there’s a chance of digestive side effects if you eat too much at once.
A typical dosage recommendation is 20 grammes (about 1.5 tablespoons) of chia seeds twice daily.
Chia seeds are simple to prepare and are frequently mixed into porridge or smoothies.
Chia seeds are not only high in nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fibre, but they are also simple to prepare. They are frequently added to porridge or smoothies.
According to research, they have a variety of health benefits ranging from weight loss to reduced inflammation.
If you don’t already consume chia seeds, you should seriously consider doing so. They are one of the few superfoods deserving of the moniker.
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