Chia seeds are mostly known for being used to grow grass as part of a novelty gift involving clay pots shaped to resemble famous cartoon characters. It turns out that there is more to chia seeds than being sold as part of a chia pet. They are actually an incredibly nutritious food, providing a range of health benefits.
Chia seeds are native to Mexico, where they have been used for hundreds of years for their medicinal properties. At one point in history, they were even used as a form of currency. Aztec warriors commonly ate chia seeds for added endurance and energy.
Find out why you should include chia seeds in your diet, along with how to eat them.
Why are Chia Seeds So Healthy?
Chia seeds are incredibly beneficial to your health, containing a lot of vitamins and minerals. Here is a closer look at the nutritional values of one ounce of chia seeds:
- Protein – 4.4g
- Dietary fiber – 11g
- Omega-3 fatty acids – 4915mg
- Omega-6 fatty acids – 1620mg
- Calcium – 77mg
- Phosphorus – 265mg
One of the main reasons that chia seeds are so healthy is that they provide the perfect balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Not enough people have the proper balance of these fatty acids, which can lead to various health problems. By eating more chia seeds, you can begin correcting your balance of fatty acids.
What are the Health Benefits of Chia Seeds?
Now that you know that chia seeds are nutritious, you will probably want to learn how this can help you. Here are the ten primary benefits of adding chia seeds to your diet:
Promote Better Skin
You can consume chia seeds to help slow the signs of aging. Chia seeds are a great source of a natural antioxidant called phenolic. This antioxidant can stop up to 70 percent of all free radicals. Attacking free radicals can protect your skin from the signs of aging while increasing your body’s ability to repair damaged skin.
Improve Your Digestive Health
Chia seeds contain 11 grams of fiber per ounce. This means that a single ounce of chia seeds can provide you with the daily recommended amount of fiber. Consuming more fiber can help promote regular bowel movements and improve the health of your stool.
Once the chia seeds reach your stomach, they create a gelatin-like substance that can actually act as a prebiotic, supporting the growth of healthy gut bacteria in your stomach.
Receiving the right amount of fiber can also help to curb sugar cravings and suppress your appetite, which can be helpful if you are trying to lose weight or cut down on snacks.
Improve Your Heart Health
Chia seeds can help to reverse inflammation and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. These benefits improve your overall heart health, reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke. The inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids, along with vitamins A, D, E, and K, protect the heart and improve cardiovascular health.
The fiber and alpha-linolenic acid found in chia seeds may be able to prevent diabetes. According to a report published in the British Journal of Nutrition, chia seeds have been found to prevent dyslipidemia and insulin resistance during animal testing. Not only was it determined that chia seeds helped prevent diabetes, researchers concluded that it was able to help reverse diabetes – which means that chia seeds may provide a viable cure for diabetes.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in chia seeds, specifically the alpha linolenic acid, has been found to limit the growth of cancer cells in the cervix and the breasts, reducing the risk of developing cervical and breast cancers. Studies examining the cancer-fighting benefits of chia seeds also determined that while killing cancerous cells the fatty acid did not harm healthy cells.
Improve Your Metabolism and Energy Levels
Another benefit of chia seeds is their ability to boost your metabolism and energy levels. A recent study concluded that chia seeds are just as effective as sports drinks for helping athletes stay energized. As part of this boost to energy comes an increase in your metabolism, by reducing belly fat.
Chia seeds provide a large dose of calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and beta-carotene, all of which can help promote healthier teeth. In fact, calcium is one of the most important nutrients for strong and healthy teeth.
Beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin, and phosphorus will help keep your teeth strong. Zinc helps to fight the buildup of plaque and has an antibacterial effect that can prevent bad breath.
Maintain Strong Bones
Calcium is useful for more than promoting healthy teeth – it can also help keep your bones strong. One ounce of chia seeds provides 18% of the daily recommended value of calcium. Another substance found in chia seeds, called boron, helps to metabolize calcium and other essential minerals.
Promote Healthier Muscles
Chia seeds are one of the top plant-based sources of protein – needed for repairing muscle tissue and keeping muscles healthy. One ounce of chia seeds contains 4.4 grams of protein which is great for anyone trying to build more muscle or tone their body. Along with the protein, chia seeds contain powerful antioxidants that can provide you with nutrients that are often lost during exercise.
Chia seeds have a gelatinous texture, especially once they are digested, allowing it to absorb up to 10 times its own weight in water. This can help you stay hydrated and improve your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Chia seeds will also slow down your digestion process, helping you feel fuller for a longer period of time and reduce your sugar cravings.
By helping you suppress your appetite, maintain healthy muscles, boost your metabolism, and improve your energy levels, you should find it much easier to lose weight and keep it off.
How Should You Eat Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds should either be soaked or ground into a powder. Soaking the chia seeds should help break down the seed, allowing you to receive more of the nutrients. When chia seeds are soaked for several hours, they begin to sprout, which releases enzyme inhibitors, making the seed easier to digest and absorb.
When soaking chia seeds, add 1 ½ tablespoons of chia seeds to one cup of water. Allow the seeds to sit for anywhere between thirty minutes and two hours. The longer you soak the chia seeds, the more gelatinous the seeds will become. This is useful when adding chia seeds to a smoothie or other liquid, including soups and stews.
If you prefer to grind your chia seeds, us a food processor or a coffee grinder to create chia seed flour. You can use this flour in pancakes, muffins, and bread. You should wait to grind the chia seeds until you are ready to use the flour. If you grind more than you can use, store the extra in an airtight container and place in your fridge.
Chia seeds are incredibly beneficial for your health. They can reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol levels – improving your cardiovascular health. Consuming chia seeds can also reduce your risk of developing diabetes, various types of cancer, and other health problems.
If you want to improve your health, start by including chia seeds in your diet.