Last Updated on January 2, 2021 by Lori Geurin
Chia seeds are one of the most nutritious superfoods you can find anywhere! These tiny seeds have some amazing health benefits. They’re typically grown organically and don’t contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). They are black or white. If the seeds are brown it means they’re not ripe yet.
Chia seeds grow natively in South America. Ancient Mayans and Aztecs used them for many purposes, including medicine. In ancient Mayan culture, ‘chia’ means ‘strength’. They’re sometimes compared to flaxseeds because they have similar nutritional value.
Some advantages of chia seeds over flax seeds include:
- They don’t go rancid as quickly as flaxseed.
- They do not have to be ground before
Now let’s take a look at some chia health benefits.
Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds
1. Impressive Nutrition Profile
A 1-ounce (28.4 gram or about 2 tablespoons) serving of chia seeds provides: (1)
- 11 grams of fiber
- 4.7 grams of protein
- 17% RDA of calcium
- 12% RDA of iron
- 23% RDA of magnesium
They also contain phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids (healthy fats), and are rich in antioxidants.
2. Gluten-Free Food
They are a “whole grain” food and are safe for people who have celiac disease and those who are gluten intolerant.
This is great news for people who have to restrict their intake of grains. When eating chia seeds, you don’t have to worry about potential side effects from foods with gluten.
3. Easy To Include In Your Eating Plan
Because they’re bland, you can put them in just about anything. Simply Google “chia seeds recipes” and you’ll find nearly 20,000,000 results!
I enjoy the tiny seeds in my favorite green smoothie or Peanut Butter Protein Shake. They have a slightly nutty taste and take on the flavors of the foods they’re blended with. If you eat a healthy diet, chia seeds are an easy, nutrition-packed food you can use in a variety of dishes.
They’re a delicious addition to Greek yogurt and fruit. (Think of a chia bowl.) And many people enjoy them for dessert in puddings. And how about adding them to stir-frys, casseroles, or pancakes?
4. Reduces Cancer Risk
Because of the high fiber content in the seeds, they can help with digestive health and lower your risk of colorectal cancer.
The high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid (or ALA) found in chia seeds can limit cancer cell growth in cervical and breast cancers. In studies, the ALAs also caused cancer cells to die and didn’t harm normal cells. (3)
They help the skin heal and repair quickly. That means healthy, glowing skin and fewer wrinkles. And who doesn’t love that?
Related: 10 Skin Cancer Prevention Tips
6. Improves Bone Health
Chia seeds provide more than 18% of the RDA of calcium, and that’s in merely 1 ounce! They’re a great alternative to dairy products for people who are allergic to dairy or are simply looking for other options.
They also contain vital nutrients that promote bone health. These include:
7. Satiety And Weight Loss
The high amounts of protein, healthy fats, and fiber reduce your appetite and cravings. Also, when liquid combines with chia seeds, the outer layer absorbs the liquid, causing the seed to swell and form a gel, which further increases satiety.
Satiety, or feeling full, can help with weight loss. When you feel full and satisfied you’re much less likely to overeat.
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8. Regulates Blood Sugar
A study of Type-2 Diabetes patients (done in 2007) showed chia seeds significantly lowered their blood pressure, a risk factor for diabetes. (4)
They’ve also been shown to cause a drop in blood sugar.
9. Muscle-Building Protein
With close to 14% protein, chias provide a good amount of this muscle-building macronutrient.
Eating plenty of high-quality protein, like chia seeds, can greatly reduce your appetite and help with weight loss. (5)
10. Low-Carbohydrate Food
Are you watching your carb intake? If so, you’re not alone. Due to their high fiber content, chia seeds contain only 1 net carbohydrate gram per ounce.
This makes them the perfect food if you’re following a keto or low-carb diet.
11. May Lower Risk Of Heart Disease
According to studies done on rats, chia seeds can reduce inflammation, raise HDL (the good cholesterol), and lower triglycerides. (6)
They’ve also been found to lower insulin resistance and decrease belly fat. (7)
12. Increased Energy And Metabolism
A recent study showed that chia seeds enhance sports performance when given to people who trained more
Consuming a serving of chia seeds per day can also increase your metabolism and burn belly fat.
So there you have it – 12 amazing health benefits of chia seeds! Now, let’s take a look at how to best enjoy these little seeds.
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How To Eat Chia Seeds
If you want to gain the most nutritional value from your chia seeds you may want to grind or soak them. This makes their rich nutrients more readily available for absorption.
Here’s how to soak them:
- Mix about 1.5 tablespoons of chia seeds in a glass with 1 cup of water.
- Let them soak for about 1 to 2 hours, or until they become gel-like.
And now that you understand how to prep your chias you may be wondering about potential side effects. Keep reading for that important information.
Side Effects Of Chia Seeds
I’ve heard of people swallowing a tablespoon of raw, unsoaked chia seeds. But based on what I’ve read, I’d advise against this. Strongly. One man tried this very thing and ended up in the ER with a blockage in his esophagus.
Because the seeds absorb water, they can stick together in a clump and become difficult to swallow. This makes them a choking hazard if eaten dry. Always drink plenty of water or other fluids (such as milk, juice, or incorporated in a smoothie) when eating your chia seeds.
People with chronic gastrointestinal diseases may find that chia seeds cause unwanted digestive symptoms because of their high-fiber content.
People who are taking blood pressure and blood sugar medications should be careful about consuming chia seeds. This is because the seeds naturally lower blood sugar and blood pressure.
Chia Seeds Recipes
Here are a few yummy recipes using real food ingredients and chia seeds.
- Overnight chocolate chia seed pudding
- No-cook overnight oatmeal with chia seeds
- Chia coconut pudding with coconut milk
- Eggplant parmesan with chia seeds
- Banana chia seed pancakes
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Summary – Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are truly are a wonder! Their tiny size packs such a powerful nutritional punch and you can incorporate them into your diet in so many ways. Shakes, casseroles, puddings, pancakes, and more.
To get the most nutrition out of your chias remember to soak them in water first. Do you have a favorite chia seed recipe?
How do you like to eat chia seeds?
Please share in the comment section below.
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