Chia seeds are small black seeds from the Salvia Hispanica, a plant native to South America. These seeds are considered to be one of the healthiest foods. In fact, chia seeds were a staple food for the Mayans and Aztecs back in the day. They are valued for their ability to provide energy. The health benefits of chia seeds are many.
Chia is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.” Despite their history, chia seeds only became popular in recent years. They are now being consumed by health-conscious people all over the world and regarded as a modern-day superfood.
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
1. Chia seeds are high in protein
Chia seeds contain a significant amount of protein. By weight, they’re about 14% protein, much higher compared to other plant foods. They also contain essential amino acids, helping the body utilize protein.
A high protein intake lessens appetite, desire for nighttime snacking, and other cravings. This is beneficial if you are trying to lose weight. Chia seeds are a good source of protein, especially for people who are vegetarians, vegans, or those who don’t like to eat much animal products.
2. Good for heart health
Chia seeds’ ability to regulate cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and reverse inflammation make it beneficial to heart health. Inflammation can put strain on the blood vessels and can contribute to heart disease.
Additionally, a person is less likely to develop atherosclerosis if he/she consumes chia seeds because they help fight oxidative stress. Chia seeds contain linoleic acid, which helps the body absorb vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. For such a tiny seed, chia is high in healthy fats. Simply put, eating chia seeds can help protect your heart.
3. High in Omega-3 fatty acids
Chia seeds contain more Omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. However, the Omega-3 in chia seeds is primarily ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid). And ALA must be converted to EPA and DHA before it can be used by the body.
Humans are not that efficient in this regard. Studies show that chia seeds can increase ALA and EPA, but not DHA. DHA is the most important Omega-3 fat. For this reason, plant sources of Omega-3 tend to be inferior to animal sources like fish.
4. Good source of fiber
If you analyze the nutritional content of chia seeds, you will see that one ounce contains 12 grams of carbohydrates. But 11 of those grams are actually fiber. Fiber doesn’t increase blood sugar, doesn’t require insulin, and should not really be counted as a carbohydrate. The effective carbohydrate content of chia seeds is only 1 gram/ounce, which is very low.
Amazingly, chia seeds can absorb up to 12 times their weight in water. They have gel-like properties and have the ability to expand. Therefore, they can increase satiety (feeling of being full), making you eat less. By weight, chia seeds are 40% fiber, making them one of the best sources of fiber.
5. Boost energy and metabolism
One recent study concluded that consuming chia seeds can enhance physical performance the same way a sports drink would, but without the unhealthy sugar. In the study, half of the participants drank 100% sports drink, while the rest consumed half sports drink, half chia drink. Their athletic performance was basically the same. The only difference is that the other group consumed far less sugar (because of the chia seeds).
Consuming a serving of chia seeds a day can help boost your metabolism and burn belly fat as well. Adding them to your diet can reduce visceral adipose tissue, which is a contributory factor to obesity.
Chia seeds may be tiny, but they are high in nutritional value. They are easy to incorporate into your diet. You can add them to pretty much anything. They can be eaten raw, soaked in water or juice, or sprinkled on top of cereals, vegetables, or rice dishes. If you want to buy quality chia seeds, click here.