by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
Chia seeds have been around for thousands of years, but they have only recently started to gain popularity in Western countries. Today, more and more people are incorporating them into their nutrition plan for the health benefits as well as to add some texture to the foods they’re consuming.
Chia seeds are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. They are packed with vitamins and minerals, fiber, protein, and healthy fats. In addition, they are an excellent source of antioxidants that help fight free radicals. These tiny seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids along with those potent antioxidants, which can help protect your body against disease and ward off foreign pathogens that enter the body.
But do you know about all the health benefits of chia seeds? In this article, we are going to break down some of the most noteworthy benefits you should know.
6 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. They’re high in protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. They contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium. These tiny seeds also provide antioxidants and other health benefits.
Here are six health benefits of chia seeds:
1. Chia seeds are highly nutritional
Chia seeds are tiny black or white seeds coming from the plant Salvia hispanica L. They are believed to be native to Central America.
As per history, Aztec and Mayan civilizations consumed chia seeds in their diets and used them for medicinal purposes, cosmetics, and even for religious beliefs. Today, people from around the world consume chia seeds in their diets.
It is important to know that only 1 ounce (28 grams or 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds contains:
- Protein: 4.7 grams
- Calories: 138
- Carbs: 11.9 grams
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): 5 grams
- Calcium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Fiber: 9.8 grams
- Magnesium: 23% of the DV
- Iron: 12% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 20% of the DV
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 15% of the DV
- Zinc: 12% of the DV
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): 16% of the DV
2. Chia seeds are full of antioxidants
Antioxidants protect the sensitive fats in chia seeds from turning rancid, and it also benefits human health by neutralizing reactive molecules, which are known as free radicals. They can damage cells if they build up in the body.
Free radicals lead to oxidative stress and cell damage (everything from damaging the cell, mutating it, and even killing it). Antioxidant-rich foods like chia seeds can help reduce your chance of developing several health problems linked to free radical damage, which includes cognitive loss, heart disease, and a few forms of cancer.
3. Promote heart health
Chia seeds contain quercetin, which is an antioxidant that helps block various diseases, including heart issues. The seeds are also full of fiber, which can help reduce blood pressure and hence, minimize the risk of any heart disease.
All the fat in chia seeds is of the unsaturated, healthy variety. 5 of the about 9 grams per serving are omega-3 fats. If consumed on a regular basis, this fat form is linked with a potentially lower risk of heart problems such as blocked arteries and arrhythmias.
4. Chia seed may support weight loss
Chia seeds absorb 10 times their weight in water, which can make you feel full more quickly than many other foods. Plus, they contain fiber, which helps you feel full longer. As a result, you may eat less throughout the day and ultimately consume fewer calories.
The fiber and healthy fats in chia seeds may support weight loss by increasing satiety (the feeling of fullness) and reducing hunger cravings.
According to a study, chia seeds mixed with yogurt for breakfast boosted feelings of fullness and lowered food intake in the short term as compared with eating chia-free yogurt. Many people also add chia seeds to their protein or health smoothies as well as their salads.
5. Maintain blood sugar levels
Chia seeds are high in soluble fiber, which helps to slow down stomach emptying and keeps you feeling fuller longer. This helps prevent spikes in blood sugar after meals, which can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Animal studies have found that chia seeds may improve insulin sensitivity. This might help to stabilize your blood sugar levels after meals.
In particular, older research from 2010 and 2013 suggests that consuming bread containing chia seeds can help lower post-meal rises in blood sugar among healthy adults.
6. Contain many essential bone nutrients
Chia seeds contain many crucial bone nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and copper. These nutrients help build strong bones and teeth and prevent osteoporosis.
In addition to that, ALA in chia seeds plays a vital role in bone health. According to some studies, it was found that consuming ALA could be linked with increased bone mineral density.
A study of rats found that those who received chia seeds daily for about 13 months had increased bone mineral content compared with a control group. The researchers concluded that ALA may have led to this benefit.