Chia seeds are a nutrient-dense food that has gained momentum as an extraordinary superfood. They're one of the most ancient foods known to man, and they still hold many secrets today.
The Mayans and Aztecs considered chia seeds a powerful source of energy, and they were often eaten before battle or harvested for religious ceremonies. Today, we know that these tiny seeds are packed with antioxidants, fiber, protein, and essential fatty acids.
Chia seeds have been shown to improve heart health, stabilize blood sugar levels, promote weight loss, and reduce inflammation. They're also incredibly versatile and can be added to a variety of dishes or consumed on their own.
What Are Chia Seeds
Ancient cultures such as the Aztecs and Mayans used the seeds of a desert plant named Salvia Hispanica to boost energy. The word chia means "strength" in Spanish due to greater endurance during long treks across harsh terrain or combat against enemies.
Chia seed is one of the most impressive nutritional powerhouses you can add to your diet.
Chia seeds are incredibly versatile and can be added to many recipes or consumed in their natural state.
For optimum health benefits of chia seeds, it is recommended that they be consumed raw and whole (not ground into flour). It's also a good idea to eat chia seeds with fat such as nut butter, coconut milk cream, or extra virgin olive oil. This helps facilitate the absorption of the nutrients within them.
The seed also contains phytochemicals such as phenolic acids (perhaps the most important antioxidants in our diet), flavonoids, and quinones with anti-cancer properties.
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Strong Antioxidant Effects
Chia seeds are among the richest dietary sources of α-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that has proved efficient in several conditions, including allergies, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory diseases, and cancer. Furthermore, chia seeds represent an important source of antioxidants. Both substances act synergistically and antioxidant supplements may be used as an adjuvant in the antioxidant defense system.
The milled ones (ground into meal or flour) showed antioxidant activity equal to blueberries and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), while those made from whole chia seeds were even more potent than those two antioxidant sources.
The antioxidant activity of chia seed extracts was evaluated in vitro by measuring antioxidant enzyme, antioxidant metabolites and antioxidant capacity. The antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), catalase (CAT) and the antioxidant metabolites reduced glutathione (GSH) and malondialdehyde (MDA) were assayed in plasma samples of prehypertensive patients to assess the influence of supplementation with 8 g/d for 6 weeks with either placebo or chia seeds on biomarkers. Antioxidant capacity was measured using the ferric reducing antioxidant power assay.
Chia seeds showed a strong effect on all antioxidant enzymes, decreasing GPx (−19%), SOD (−17%) and antioxidant capacity (−21%) and increasing CAT activity (30%)…
Source Of Omegas
A diet balanced between omega-3 and omega-6 oils has the perfect 1:4 ratio of those two fatty acids. Many people's diets contain far more omega-6 than they should, which can lead to inflammation issues. As with the antioxidant benefits, this is great for those with heart disease or arthritis.
Acne Skin Problems
Chia seed oil possesses antimicrobial properties due to chia seed's high content of choline, an essential nutrient that defends against bacteria and viruses. Additionally, chia seed contains gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), a fatty acid with antioxidant properties, which makes it helpful in treating acne problems...
Blood Sugar Control
Chia seeds have been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels. They do this by slowing the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This is beneficial for those who have diabetes or are at risk of developing diabetes because it helps keep blood sugar levels stable.
High Amounts Of Dietary Iron
If you're anemic, chia seeds can help! They contain 27 percent of the RDA for iron. This is great for vegetarians or those who do not get enough from a plant-based diet; chia seeds can help maintain healthy levels.
Lowers Blood Pressure
The same study in "The Journal of American College Nutrition" found that individuals with borderline hypertension lowered systolic blood pressure by 6 percent and diastolic blood pressure by 3 percent when they consumed chia daily over 12 weeks. For people already suffering from hypertension, this could make quite a difference in their quality of life.
Protects Against Arthritis
The omega-6 fatty acids found in chia seeds have been shown to reduce fluid retention and swelling, which helps protect against pain and stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
High Amounts Of Dietary Calcium
Chia seeds aren't just good for your hair - they're also excellent for your bones! Calcium is something most people don't get enough of from their diets. While milk products contain quite a bit of calcium, many people are intolerant to lactose or choose not to eat dairy products. Chia seeds contain 18% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).
Hydrate The Body
With high amounts of water-soluble fiber, chia seeds can help keep you hydrated throughout the day! Incredibly helpful for those who suffer from chronic dry mouth due to certain medications. Chia seeds are also great for rehydrating after a particularly strenuous workout.
High fiber diets have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and lower risks for coronary heart disease. Chia seeds contribute largely to this benefit with 14 grams of dietary fiber per ounce (28 grams).
Chia seeds are a popular weight-loss food because they're high in fiber and protein. A study published in the Nutrition Journal found that people who ate chia seeds for breakfast felt fuller and had fewer cravings throughout the day than those who didn't.
- Another study, published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, found that chia seeds can help you lose body fat. In the study, participants who took a chia seed supplement lost more body fat than those who didn't.
- The aforementioned study in the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition" tested individuals' metabolic rates before and after eating chia seeds - they found that these individuals experienced a 20 percent increase in their daily metabolic rate. This means that not only were people taking in fewer calories, but their bodies were actually using more energy each day.
For those who are trying to lose or maintain weight, this is great news!
Improves Insulin Sensitivity
As chia seeds are high in soluble fiber, they can slow down the rate at which your body digests carbohydrates and sugars. This means that
Instead of a rapid spike in blood sugar levels, you can experience a slower rise, offering more efficiency for your body's natural insulin production.
Chia Seed Nutrition Facts
Chia seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition. They contain an impressive range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, providing a host of health benefits.
Some of the key benefits include:
- Boosting your immune system and protecting against colds and flu
- Regulating blood sugar levels
- Maintaining healthy bones and muscles
- Keeping your digestive system healthy
- Reducing cholesterol levels
- Providing plant-based protein
- Supporting energy production and metabolism
- Protecting cells from damage
- Reducing the risk of some chronic diseases.
Nutrition Breakdown: 31% Fat, 16% Protein, and 44% Carbohydrate with 38% fiber.