Chia seeds are everywhere but are there real health benefits of chia seeds? Is it that good for you?
Or are chia seeds just a bunch of hyped up seeds from Mexico? Should they even be allowed over the wall?
Yes. Yes they should.
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
1. Chia seeds are loaded with the good stuff.
Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) are loaded with fiber, essential omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
The USDA database shows an ounce of chia seeds provides:
- 137 Calories.
- 12 grams of carbs.
- 4.7 grams protein (10% daily value).
- 8.7 grams fat.
- 10 grams fiber (40% daily value).
I can get forty percent of my daily fiber in just one ounce? Not bad chia seeds, not bad at all.
The seeds are also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids like alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid. And vitamins and minerals. One ounce can give:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 12% daily value
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): 12.5%
- Iron: 12%
- Calcium: 18%
- Phosphorous: 24%
- Magnesium: 24%
- Zinc: 8%
Oh and the seeds also have antioxidants. I guess the hype is legit!
2. Feel full with the seeds
Chia seeds are loaded with fiber and fiber is freaking good for you.
Soluble fiber in chia seeds absorb water – a lot of water – even while in your tummy. The fiber-water mix becomes gelatinous and so does not move as fast through your digestive system.
This gives you a feeling of fullness so you won’t need to sneak a snack between meals.
3. Fiber supports gut health
The gelatinous mix acts like a prebiotic in your body. And when it passes into your intestines, your good bacteria break down the fiber into useful fatty acids and other compounds.
These have anti-inflammatory benefits.
So they can help with irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
4. Can chia seeds help with weight loss?
The research is mixed on this.
A 2017 study with 77 overweight patients with type II diabetes had interesting findings. It showed chia seeds promoted weight loss, improved obesity related risk factors and maintained good glycemic levels. The researchers went on to recommend chia seeds to help manage obesity in diabetic patients.
Another study from 2014 had participants eating chia seeds for 12 weeks. The researchers here found “significant but discrete reduction in weight and waist circumference.”
Smaller waist? Lower weight? Yes please!
But before we jump on the chia-seed-weight-loss-train, you should know there are other studies that don’t agree with these benefits.
This 2009 one from the Appalachian State University noted there were no changes to body mass, composition, or disease risk factors in 90 obese participants that ate 50 grams of chia seeds a day for 12 weeks.
What does that mean? Don’t put all your weight loss goals in your chia seed basket.
Yes they can make you feel fuller. Yes they can curb appetite. But you have a better chance of losing weight by eating chia seeds, eating more fruits and vegetables, and exercising.
5. The seeds help control your blood sugar
These health benefits of chia seeds come back to its fiber. The fiber blocks enzymes from immediately acting on carbohydrates. So carbs are not broken down as quickly into glucose. And glucose is not absorbed as fast into your blood.
That’s why chia seeds can control glycemic (blood sugar) levels, reduce spikes, and lower your risk of developing diabetes.
6. They control your cholesterol too
Studies also show soluble fiber is able to lower total cholesterol in the blood and well as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol.
7. Chia seeds are heart healthy
Controlling blood sugar, cholesterol and inflammation all prove the heart health benefits of chia seeds.
There are also studies that show strong correlations between eating chia seeds and reductions in heart disease. This 2010 one noted chia seeds helped improve blood pressure, coagulation and inflammatory markers.
And this one from 2007 found that long-term intake of chia seeds greatly lowered cardiovascular risk factors. And these were lowered safely beyond conventional therapy!
8. They are antioxidant
Chia seeds contain several antioxidants like quercetin, myricetin and caffeic acid. These are powerful compounds that can neutralize free radicals in your body. And you definitely want that because free radicals are terrible.
Free radicals can affect your healthy cells and damage their DNA. When that happens, your cells can do evil things like cause wrinkles, tumors and even cancer!
9. Chia seeds = more energy
The ancient Aztecs understood the health benefits of chia seeds and used them for energy. It’s true! An ounce of the seeds gives about 137 Calories. But that’s not all. The seeds also contain zinc and omega-3 fatty acids which help to regulate energy levels, improve stamina and endurance.
There’s even a 2011 study from The University of Alabama Performance. It showed using chia seeds was
“a viable option for enhancing performance for endurance events lasting more than 90 minutes.”
10. They maintain strong bones and teeth
Drink milk to maintain strong bones and teeth. But if you are lactose intolerant or going dairy-free, then you can get 20% of your required calcium intake from just an ounce of chia seeds.
11. Chia seeds are better than flax seeds
Oh the blasphemy!
But that’s what this 2017 study claimed. It noted chia and flax have similar nutritional compositions. But chia leaves you feeling full for longer when compared to flax seeds. And it produces a slow-release carb and so helps to control blood sugar better than flax.
All hail chia seeds. They are not overhyped!
How to Eat Chia Seeds
You can eat an ounce of chia seeds a day.
It barely has a nutty taste. So you can use it as a garnish for your salads, ice cream, and oatmeal. Mmm ice cream!
Grinding it with your coffee grinder or blender is actually better since it makes the chia seeds easier to ingest and more useful in the body. Ground chia seeds work well as a flour and gluten replacement.
You can also soak it. But remember it absorbs a lot of water and gets gelatinous. So you can add one ounce of the seeds to one and a half cups of water. This ratio is not fixed. It’s really up to you and your preference. Leave the seed-water mix for a couple hours to maybe overnight. Then add a spoonful to your smoothies, juices and yogurt.
So are the health benefits of chia seeds over-hyped? Nope, they’re not!
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