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The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

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Scientifically known as Salvia hispanica, chia seeds are thought to be one of the few superfoods nature has presented upon us. These seeds are acknowledged for their richness in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, antioxidants, and calcium. They also act as a natural laxative. The seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that is absorbed by the body as seeds. In recent times, research has found the benefits of chia seeds to be far greater than what anyone knew.

Why Are Chia Seeds Good For You?

Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming chia seeds is apparently the easiest way to intake these healthy fatty acids. One serving of chia seeds contains 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids.

They also contain soluble fiber. The benefits of soluble fiber are many – it helps manage blood sugar, feeds the gut-friendly bacteria, and even bulks up the stool. A single serving of chia seeds meets almost a third of your daily fiber requirement. If you have bone issues, you can swear by chia seeds. High content of calcium, phosphorous, and manganese make them good for the bones.

Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts

100 grams of these seeds contain about 485 calories, 31 grams of fat and 42 grams of carbohydrates. The seeds also contain 18 of the 22 amino acids – and all of the 9 essential amino acids namely lysine, leucine, isoleucine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, valine, and histidine. One serving of chia seeds equals 28 g.

The nutritional values are based on one single serving of chia seeds.

  • Dietary fiber: 10.6 g (42% of daily value)
  • Protein: 4.4 g (9% of daily value)
  • Calcium: 17 mg (18% of daily value)
  • Manganese: 0.6 g (30% of daily value)
  • Phosphorous: 265 mg (27% of daily value)
  • Potassium: 44.8 mg (1% of daily value)
  • Sodium: 5.3 mg
  • Zinc: 1 mg (7% of daily value)
  • Copper: 0.1 mg (3% of daily value)
  • Total Omega-3 fatty acids: 4915 mg
  • Total Omega-6 fatty acids: 1620 mg

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

1. Rich In Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Chia seeds are one of the few types of seeds that are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Boost Energy And Metabolism

Chia seeds are packed with B vitamins, zinc, iron, and magnesium – all of which help boost energy. You can add the seeds to your favorite smoothie and enjoy a refreshing burst of energy. As per a report published by the University of New Hampshire, chia seeds can also boost your metabolism.

3. Stimulate Weight Loss

Chia seeds are considered a good weight loss food due to their excellent fiber content. A normal intake of chia seeds a day, which amounts to 25 to 38 grams a day, can go a long way in helping you shed those kilos. The seeds are also found to reduce belly fat.

The fiber in chia seeds also helps you feel full for longer periods of time. It promotes satiety. The seeds absorb water in the stomach and then expand, thereby suppressing your appetite. This can eventually lead to weight loss.

As per a Brazilian study, chia seeds play a role in fat reduction. Chia seeds are also rich in protein, which also has been found to promote satiety and weight loss.

4. Prevent Constipation

Since they are packed with fiber, especially insoluble fiber, chia seeds turn into a gel when they come in contact with water. This adds to your stool and aids bowel movements, thereby relieving constipation.

5. Packed With Protein

Chia seeds are a great source of protein. As per a Brazilian study, chia seeds had shown great protein quality. They also had improved the lipid profiles (cholesterol levels, basically) in rats.

Chia seeds contain 19% protein. And according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a high-protein diet can reduce hunger and encourage satiety. The seeds contain a high-quality protein with all the necessary amino acids.

6. Rich In Antioxidants

We all know how important antioxidants are. And chia seeds have them in abundance. The antioxidants are not only good for the cells, but for the skin as well – as they help slow down the signs of aging. The antioxidants in chia seeds have also been found to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. The high antioxidant content is what makes chia seeds more shelf-stable than other seeds.

7. Improve Sleep

There are two hormones that are essential for sleep – serotonin and melatonin. These two hormones are produced by tryptophan, an amino acid in the body. Chia seeds, being high in tryptophan, aid good sleep and relaxation. According to an American study, tryptophan is also used for treating numerous sleep disorders.

8. Regulate Blood Sugar Levels And Help Prevent Diabetes

Chia’s ability to slow down digestion can be linked to diabetes prevention. The gelatinous coating chia seeds develop can also prevent spikes in the blood sugar levels.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, chia is one of those foods considered to be useful in diabetes treatment. The seeds were also found to improve the blood pressure levels in diabetics.

Another reason chia can be good for diabetics is the presence of omega-3 fatty acids that are known to be nutritionally important for the treatment of the disease.

9. Supports Healthy Blood Lipid Levels

The omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds help lower blood cholesterol and prevent coronary heart disease in the process. The monounsaturated fats in chia seeds help lower the cholesterol levels. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also states that adding chia seeds to the diet can keep a check on the cholesterol levels.

According to a report published by West Virginia University, chia seeds, as part of a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle, can enhance heart health and prevent heart-related ailments.

The omega-3s also reduce triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. In addition, they reduce the risk of irregular heartbeat, lower blood pressure, and slow down the accumulation of arterial plaque.

10. Good For Bones And Teeth

One study has shown that increased consumption of calcium-rich foods, like chia seeds, can improve skeletal health. Consumption of chia seeds is also considered an effective way to improve calcium intake.

In addition to calcium, chia seeds are also rich in manganese – both of which are crucial for maintaining strong bones and teeth.

Chia seeds are also rich in phosphorus, a mineral that has been found to enhance bone health. The presence of antioxidants in chia seeds can also protect your teeth from damage.

11. Have Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The presence of omega-3s, fiber, and protein make chia seeds one of the best anti-inflammatory foods out there. The anti-inflammatory properties of chia seeds can also aid in the treatment of arthritis.

12. Are Gluten-Free

Gluten is the protein present in cereal grains, especially wheat, and is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. In certain individuals, gluten is known to cause allergies and gluten intolerance. However, with chia seeds, it’s a different scenario. It is 100% gluten-free.

It is particularly helpful in gluten-free baking. Chia seeds are especially beneficial for individuals suffering from celiac disease. As per studies, people with celiac disease tend to consume less calcium and fiber than recommended – and chia seeds, being rich in these two nutrients, can bridge the gap.

13. Rich In Magnesium

One serving of chia seeds contains 30% of the RDA of magnesium. The mineral has several benefits – a few them include treatment of hypertension and heart disease, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes.

Magnesium also helps in the production of energy in the body, and a lack of it can cause fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and poor memory.

14. Rich In Manganese

In addition to numerous other nutrients, chia seeds are also rich in manganese. Manganese might help in the treatment of arthritis, diabetes, and epilepsy. Manganese also has excellent antioxidant properties. It improves metabolism and accelerates wound healing.

15. Can Improve Skin Health

The omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds have been found to increase circulation and reduce dryness and skin inflammation. And as per a Manchester study, omega-3s help protect the skin from UV radiation. Chia seeds contain anti-inflammatory properties that could help prevent wrinkles. The seeds also help reduce skin sagging.

How Much Chia Seeds Per Day?

Usually, you can take 20 grams of chia seeds (1 ½ tablespoon) twice a day. You can add the seeds to your food or snack and enjoy.

How To Eat Chia Seeds

There are three common ways of incorporating chia seeds into your diet.

1. Soaked Form

You can soak chia seeds in water overnight as this maximizes the benefits. Soaked chia seeds turn into chia gel, which can be added to your smoothies or protein shakes as a base. This creates a gluey effect and aids digestion. Soaked chia seeds are also easily absorbed by your body.

2. Powdered Form

You can also grind the seeds into a fine powder. You can use this method if you want to use the seeds as a thickener.

3. The Whole Seeds

The simplest way is to mix chia seeds in yogurt and have it for breakfast. You can also add the seeds to a smoothie. You can sprinkle the seeds on other foods to keep them crunchy. You can also add chia seeds to soups or sauces to thicken them. And oatmeal as well – they thicken a bowl of oatmeal and also add additional fiber.

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