11 Proven Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Among the healthiest foods on the planet are chia seeds which are loaded with nutrients that can have essential benefits for body and brain. Below are 11 health benefits of chia seeds. Chia Seeds Deliver a Massive Amount of Nutrients with Very Few Calories Tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica, which is related to […]

Among the healthiest foods on the planet are chia seeds which are loaded with nutrients that can have essential benefits for body and brain.

Below are 11 health benefits of chia seeds.

  1. Chia Seeds Deliver a Massive Amount of Nutrients with Very Few Calories
Tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica, which is related to the mint, are known as chia seeds.Aztecs and Mayans had chia seeds as a necessary food back in the day which was prized by them for their ability to provide sustainable energy. In fact, “chia” is known as the ancient Mayan word for “strength.”Besides their ancient history as a dietary staple, chia seeds has become to be known as a modern-day superfood only recently.In the past few years, they have exploded in popularity and health conscious people all over the world are now consuming it.

The size should not be seen as these tiny seeds have a powerful nutritional punch.

A one-ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds includes:

  • Fiber:11 grams.
  • Protein:4 grams.
  • Fat:9 grams (5 of which are omega-3s).
  • Calcium:18% of the RDI.
  • Manganese:30% of the RDI.
  • Magnesium:30% of the RDI.
  • Phosphorus:27% of the RDI.
  • A decent amount of zinc, vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2 is also contained.

This is particularly appealing considering that this is just one ounce which is equal to 28 grams or about two tablespoons. This small amount gives only 137 calories and one gram of digestible carbohydrate.

Interestingly, if the fiber is subtracted then most of it doesn’t end up as usable calories for body as only 101 calories per ounce (28 grams) is contained in chia seeds which makes them one of the world’s best sources of various essential nutrients, calorie for calorie.

Chia seeds are a whole-grain food and are generally organically grown. In addition, they’re non-GMO and naturally gluten free.

  1. Chia Seeds Are Loaded With Antioxidants

Chia seeds shine in another aspect which is their high antioxidant content.

Sensitive fats are protected by these antioxidants in the seeds from going rancid

Though the advantages of antioxidant supplements are debated, researchers have agreed that consuming antioxidants from foods can have positive health effects.

Most importantly, production of free radicals is fought by antioxidants, which can damage cell molecules and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer.

  1. Almost All the Carbs in Them Are Fiber

As mentioned above, One ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds has 12 grams of carbs. However, fiber is contained in 11 of those grams, which body doesn’t digest.

Blood sugar is not raised by fiber nor is insulin required to be disposed of. Though it comes from the carbohydrate family, its health effects are extremely different from those of digestible carbs such as starch and sugar.

The content of digestible carb is only one gram per ounce (28 grams), which is very low and which makes chia a low-carb friendly food.

Chia seeds can absorb up to 10–12 times their weight in water, becoming gel-like and expanding in stomach due to its high soluble fiber content

Theoretically, fullness and slow absorption of food should be increased and helping in automatically eating fewer calories.

Friendly bacteria is also fed by fiber in intestine, which is important in keeping the gut flora well fed which is absolutely crucial for health

40% fiber by weight is contained in chia seeds, making them one of the best sources of fiber in the world.

  1. Chia Seeds Are High in Quality Protein

A decent amount of protein is contained in chia seeds

They’re about 14% protein by weight, which is very high in comparison to most plants.

A good balance of essential amino acids is also present in them, so the body should be able to make use of their protein content

Various health benefits are in protein and is by far it is the most weight loss friendly dietary nutrient.

Appetite is lowered with high protein consumption and has been shown to reduce obsessive thoughts about food by 60% and the desire for night time snacking by 50%

An excellent protein source is chia seeds especially for people who eat little or no animal products.

  1. The High Fiber and Protein Content in Chia Seeds May Help Lose Weight

Weight loss is aides through chia seeds as believed by many health experts.

Large amounts of water are absorbed through soluble fiber and expand in stomach, which should increase fullness and slow the absorption of food

Various studies have evaluated the soluble fiber glucomannan, which works in the same way, showing that it can lead to weight loss.

Also, appetite and food intake can reduced with the help of protein in chia seeds.

In fact, one study found that satiety was increased and food intake reduced in the short-term whrn consuming chia seeds for breakfast.

However, studies evaluating the effectiveness of chia seeds for losing weight have shown rather disappointing outcomes.

In a study conducted in 90 overweight people, 50 grams of chia seeds daily for 12 weeks had no effect on body weight or health markers

In another 10-week study conducted in around 60 women, no effect on body weight was shown by chia seeds but amount of omega-3 fat in the blood was increased

In contradiction, a 6-month study conducted in obese people having type 2 diabetes on a reduced-calorie diet found that significantly greater weight loss than a placebo was caused by consuming chia seeds

Though addition of chia seeds to diet is unlikely to cause weight loss on its own, but it can be a useful addition to a weight loss diet as believed by many experts

The meaning of a weight loss diet is about more than just single foods. The complete diet is important, as well as other lifestyle behaviors such as sleep and exercise.

Weight loss is definitely promoted by chia seeds when combined with a real-food based diet and a healthy lifestyle

  1. Chia Seeds Are High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Similar to flaxseeds, chia seeds are very high in omega-3 fatty acids.

In fact, more omega-3s than salmon, gram for gram is contained in chia seeds.

However, it’s necessary to remember that the omega-3s in them are mostly ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is not as beneficial as it is thought to be.

ALA needs to be converted into the active forms eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) before body can consume it.

Unfortunately, converting ALA into these active forms is not done efficiently by humans.

Therefore, plant omega-3s tend to be greatly inferior compared to animal sources such as fish oil

Studies have shown that blood levels can be increased of ALA and EPA but not DHA by chia seeds especially if they’re milled which can be a problem.

Because DHA is not supplied by them, which is the most important omega-3 fat, most experts consider chia seeds a lower-quality omega-3 source.

To get the DHA in the body and brain, either consuming fatty fish regularly or taking fish oil or if vegan or vegetarian, a plant-sourced DHA supplement is needed

  1. Chia Seeds May Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Given that chia seeds are high in fiber, protein and omega-3s, risk of heart disease may ne decreased

Their advantages have been evaluated in various studies, but the outcomes have been inconclusive.

Studies conducted in rats have shown that chia seeds can lower some risk factors, including triglycerides, inflammation, insulin resistance and belly fat but “good “ HDL cholesterol may also be raised

However, one study conducted in human did not notice any improvements in risk factors

Chia seeds significantly decrease blood pressure in people with hypertension, which is a strong risk factor for heart disease as shown on few studies

Overall, it’s possible to have heart health benefits by chia seeds, but they probably won’t have a major effect unless accompanied by other beneficial lifestyle and dietary changes.

  1. They’re high in Many Important Bone Nutrients

Chia seeds are high in various nutrients that are essential for bone health which includes calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and protein.

The content of calcium is particularly impressive of around 18% of the RDI in a single ounce (28 grams).

Gram for gram, than most dairy products it is higher. As a result, an excellent source of calcium for people who don’t eat dairy are chia seeds which can be considered.

However, phytic acid is contained in chia seeds which decrease calcium absorption to some extent.

  1. Chia Seeds May Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

A typical symptom of untreated type 2 diabetes is high fasting blood sugar.

High fasting blood sugar levels when consistent are related with an increased risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease

But health effects can be adverse due to temporary spikes in blood sugar levels after meals when they’re excessively high on a regular basis

Insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, stabilizing blood sugar levels may be improved by chia seeds after meals has been found in some animal studies.

A few human studies had supported this by showing that the post-meal rise in blood sugar compared to bread that doesn’t include any chia is lowered when eating bread that contains chia seeds. 

  1. They May Reduce Chronic Inflammation

Body’s normal response to infection or injury can be inflammation. A typical example can be red and swollen skin.

Although healing body and fighting off bacteria, viruses and other infectious agents can be done with help of inflammation but it can sometimes cause harm.

This is mainly applied to chronic inflammation, which is related with an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.

Any visible signs are often not present with chronic inflammation, but can be assessed by measuring inflammatory markers in blood.

Risk of chronic inflammation can be increased with various unhealthy lifestyle habits, including smoking, lack of exercise or a poor diet.

On the other hand, blood levels of inflammatory markers may be reduced due to certain healthy foods

A 3-month study conducted in around 20 people having diabetes showed that consuming 37 grams of chia seeds daily decreased the inflammatory marker hs-CRP by 40%. In contrast, a significant benefit was not experienced by those who consumed wheat bran

Chia seeds have failed to notice any significant effects on inflammatory markers as shown in other studies 

  1. Chia Seeds Are Easy to Incorporate Into Diet

It is incredibly easy to incorporate chia seeds into diet as the seeds themselves taste rather bland, so it can be added to pretty much anything.

The need to keep them ground is not requited like flax seeds, which makes them much easier to prepare.

They can be consumed raw, soaked in juice, added to porridge, pudding, smoothies or added to baked goods.

They can also be sprinkled on top of cereal, yogurt, vegetables or rice dishes.

Due to their ability to absorb both water and fat, they can be used to thicken sauces and as egg replacements in recipes.

Mixture can be made with water and turned into a gel.

Nutritional value can be dramatically boosted by adding chia seeds to recipes.

They do also seem to be well tolerated, but if not used to consuming a lot of fiber, then a possibility of digestive side effects if eating too much at a time can arise.

20 grams (about 1.5 tablespoons) of chia seeds, twice per day is suggested common dosage 

The Bottom Line

Chia seeds are rich in nutrients, omega-3 fat, antioxidants and fiber but also preparation is easy. It is commonly added to porridge or smoothies by people.

Various health benefits, ranging from weight loss to reduced inflammation have been suggested in studies by chia seeds

If chia seeds are not consumed already, definitely consider adding them to diet as they are among the few superfoods worthy of the title.

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