Almost everybody talks about these small seeds – Chia seeds. The claim is, the seeds pack incredible health benefits. Based on this, they term chia seeds a superfood. But is this just a hype or pure facts?
Chia seeds have a rich history with strong links to the Mayan and Aztec cultures. Aztec warriors ate chia seeds for endurance purposes. A spoonful of chia seeds was enough to sustain them for 24 hours, thanks to its powerful ingredients. Essentially, the term chia means strength in the Mayan language.
People call the chia seeds a superfood because of the extensive range of nutrients it packs
Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
- A source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals like iron and calcium.
- An ounce of chia seeds has 5.6 grams of protein
- They can replace egg in vegan cooking when you mix the chia seeds with water
- You can eat the chia seeds raw, or you can cook them. However, you must soak them first, or add them to another food.
Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts
The popularity of chia seeds is because of the belief that they are a nutritional powerhouse. Below is the amount of nutrients one ounce of chia seeds offers.
- 138 calories
- 9 grams of fat –of which 5 are omega-3s
- 12 grams of carbohydrate
- 2 grams of fiber
- 6 grams of protein
The following minerals and vitamins are also present
- 7 mg calcium
- 8 mg potassium
- 2 mg phosphorus
- 5 IU vitamin A
- 2 mg vitamin C
- 1 mg vitamin E
When you eat an ounce of chia seeds daily, you get 18 percent of your daily calcium needs, 27 percent of phosphorus, 30 percent of manganese, and smaller amounts of potassium and copper.
It is also worth noting that chia seeds give the highest amount of omega-3s but lacks sugars.
The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
- Stimulate Weight Loss
- Prevent Constipation
- Have High Amounts of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Necessary for the Health of the Heart
- Supports Healthy Blood Lipid Levels
- Regulate Blood Sugar Levels and Help Prevent Diabetes
- Boost Energy and Metabolism
- Digestion and Detox
- Reduces Chronic Inflammation
- Improve Skin Health
- Important For Bone Health
- Help to Manage Diverticulosis
Stimulate Weight Loss
Many people with weight issues who’d love a solution to the problem. According to experts, chia seeds can cause weight loss.
Chia seed is rich in fiber. The fiber keeps you full for long; it promotes the feeling of satiety. The seeds will absorb the water in your stomach, which causes them to expand. In turn, this increases the feeling of being full while slowing down the absorption rate of food. The result of reduced eating is a reduction in weight.
Also, chia seed has a protein that reduces appetite and the intake of food. Some studies have indicated that if you take chia seeds for breakfast, it increases satiety, and it reduces food intake in the short-term.
It is important to note that chia seeds alone cannot cause significant weight loss. You should use it as an additional method of weight loss programs like exercise for weight loss and if have belly fat you should also perform exercise for lose belly fat along with chia seeds.
Chia seeds come with an abundance of fiber, notably the insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber usually turns into a gel when it comes in contact with water. When the fiber adds to stool, it increases the bulk. In turn, this aids in the bowel movement, a feature that eliminates constipation. Similarly, the fiber has been found to help in the process s of digestion.
Have High Amounts of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The amount of omega 3 in chia seeds is only comparable to flaxseed. This amount is higher than that of salmon, gram for gram. Sadly, the type of Omega 3 present is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which must be converted into the active forms of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). That is why most plan-based plant omega-3s tend to be vastly inferior to animal sources like fish oil.
Nevertheless, some studies have shown that chia seeds (if milled) may increase levels of ALA and EPA but not DHA in the blood. You can supplement your diet with DHA by eating fatty fish regularly or take fish oil.
Necessary for the Health of the Heart
Chia seeds intake can lower blood pressure, treat irregular heartbeat, and reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in the body (LDL). Some studies have shown that taking 10 grams of chia seeds every day is enough to effect these changes.
Experts owe this change to the fiber in the chia seeds. Besides, the fiber regulates the immune system and inflammation. As such, it may the risk of getting inflammation-related diseases like cardiovascular diseases and cancers.
Still, the omega-3 reduces the level of bad cholesterol, which in turn reduces the chances of getting coronary heart disease
Supports Healthy Blood Lipid Levels
A good supply of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with the reduction of triglycerides – fat type in the blood. Increased levels of these fats may hinder the efficient flow of blood. Additionally, chia seeds can treat abnormal amounts of cholesterol in the blood; a condition called dyslipidemia.
Regulate Blood Sugar Levels and Help Prevent Diabetes
Chia seeds can slow down the digestion process, a feature linked to diabetes prevention. Diets with high fiber content are associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes, as the high level of fibers keeps the blood sugar stable.
Chia seeds develop a gelatinous coating. This coating prevents spikes in the blood sugar levels. A diet of 14 grams fibers in every 1000 calories, according to a national instate of medicine study, showed a significant reduction in the risks of developing type 2 diabetes and coronary heart diseases.
Boost Energy and Metabolism
Chia seeds have an incredible range of nutrients that can boost energy levels. For instance, B vitamins, zinc, iron, and magnesium are known to increase the levels of energy. Still, the high amounts of omega-3s can help sustain your energy levels. High levels of energies mean a higher rate of metabolism.
For these reasons, some expert recommends chia seeds as a potent workout drink. But you have to take it a few hours before your workout session. Typically, they’ll provide energy after the carbs burn out. And, if you take the chia seeds after the workout, the protein can help repair the tissues.
Digestion and Detox
A high fiber diet (chia seeds) is essential in maintaining the health of the digestive system. Such a diet promotes a regular bowel movement (prevents constipation). Daily removal of wastes, helps to eliminate toxins from the body through bile and stool.
Reduces Chronic Inflammation
When your body responds to an injury or infection, inflammation occurs. As much as inflammation is a way of the body fighting diseases, at times, it gets out of hand. Chronic inflammation has a close association with heart diseases and cancers.
Some natural foods can manage inflammation by reducing inflammation markers. Specifically, chia seeds can reduce inflammation marker has-CRP.
Improve Skin Health
Omega-3s are known to increase blood circulation as well as reduce dry skin conditions. Some studies have also shown that it can protect the skin from UV radiation. Eating chia seeds can, therefore, prevent your skin from sagging and developing wrinkles, thanks to anti-inflammatory properties and powerful omega-3 fatty acids.
Important For Bone Health
Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and protein are essential nutrients for bone development and health. Chia seeds pack an abundance of these nutrients. For instance, it has an impressive level of calcium.
However, it is worth noting that chia also contains phytic acid, a compound that might reduce the absorption of calcium to some extent.
Help to Manage Diverticulosis
Diverticulosis is tube-like growth in the intestines. They show no signs of inflammation. Because the chia seeds are rich in omega-3s and fibers, they are efficient in managing the diverticular disease.
Diverticulosis develops in people who eat diets devoid of fiber. Chia seeds are full of fiber hence can effectively prevent the disease.
Chia seeds are currently easy to find. They are in almost all grocery stores. Similarly, all supermarket shelves have these products. They appear black, and they have a mild nutty flavor.
You can consume the chia seeds in various ways; you can choose to cook or eat raw. If you eat them raw, you can sprinkle on oatmeal, smoothie, yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal. When you choose to cook, you can add to baked foods like bread and muffins.
The daily intake of chia seeds is recommended at a maximum of 2 tablespoons per day twice a day. You can eat them whole, powdered, or soaked.
Side Effects of Chia Risk
Chia seed has a high water-absorbing capacity. It can absorb water 27 times their weight. While this can be a beneficial feature, it is equally risky. If you swallow dry chia seeds, they may obstruct the digestive tract.
A rare incidence occurred where the chia seeds caused an oesophageal obstruction in a man who ate dry chia seeds then gulped a glass of water thereafter. The chia seed absorbed water and consequently expanded. Besides, it formed a thick gel. This made it impossible for the man to swallow anything.
So do not take dry chia seeds. Soak them first, add in other foods, or cook them.