Everybody wants to follow a healthy diet and eat healthy food, but many people are unaware of some nutritious foods which are commonly available. Chia seeds belong to this category, which is most nutritious but less known to people around the globe.
Chia Seeds has a scientific name, Salvia Hispanica, derived from a flowering plant that belongs to Mexico, Central, and South America. This ancient grain is filled with nutrients and minerals that impart various health benefits. Generally, added in many recipes like smoothies, cereals, and salads to make a great healthy meal. In this blog post, we will discuss all the health benefits of chia seeds and the scientific evidence behind these claims.
Chia seeds make a great energy drink for athletes for more stamina and energy. Chia seed oil is extracted and used for its medicinal and health benefits. If you are looking for antioxidants with high fiber, chia seeds can be a perfect addition to your diet. Chia seeds are also called superfoods for their extensive range of benefits.
History shows a strong link between chia seeds and Mayan and Aztec cultures. It is believed that these warriors used chia seeds for its ability to increase endurance. In the Mayan language, the term chia means strength. In the olden days, it survived in certain regions of Mexico. Presently chia seeds are grown in several countries and are easily accessible. It is an unprocessed whole grain food that is absorbed from your body in the seeds form.
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12 Proven Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have many health benefits to offer you. It is believed that chia seeds improve sleep, eye health, and mood. They are a great option for those following gluten-free diets. Chia seeds being an excellent source of fiber, are used to treat diverticular diseases. Chia seeds with its multiple benefits help your body to function better.
Chia Seeds Promote Weight Loss
Chia seeds are filled with healthy fatty acids and are consumed globally by health-conscious people. They are high in fiber that makes you feel fuller for a long time. This makes you feel less hungry and helps you lose weight.
Chia seeds contain enough proteins, and experts recommend including chia seeds in your breakfast that will increase satiety, and it reduces food intake. Chia seeds absorb water and become gel-like, which takes longer to digest. This slow digestion makes you feel less hungry.
A scientific study was conducted in 2014, on men and women, in which 35g of chia flour or placebo was given every day for 12 weeks. The study results showed that there is a significant reduction in weight and waist circumference in a group of people who consumed chia. It also showed that chia seeds have a high amount of dietary fiber, which enhances blood glucose and lipid profile.
Another study has revealed that when chia seeds are consumed with yogurt, they act as appetite suppressants. In this way, it reduces food intake and helps in weight reduction.
Start your day with this super nutrient food by adding chia seeds to your smoothies, yogurt, or to your daily cereal. It gives a right start to your day and keeps you energized throughout the day. It can boost your diet plan by keeping a low-calorie count. To meet your weight loss goals, consume chia seeds regularly.
It is essential to understand that you can not meet your weight loss goals by just adding chia seeds to your diet. Following your exercise and diet routine, along with consuming chia seeds, can bring the right outcome.
Summary: With high fiber and protein content, chia seeds act as an appetite suppressant. By making you crave less for food, it helps you to lose weight.
Chia Seeds Are Beneficial for Heart Health
Chia seeds contain fiber, protein, and omega3 fatty acids, which are known to support heart health. Anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties of chia seeds are linked to the positive effects of cardiovascular health and hypertension.
It is believed that chia seeds can lower the blood pressure and reduce the bad cholesterol levels, thus helping to maintain heart health. It also plays a role in strengthening your immune system and reduces inflammation, which reduces the risk of inflammation-related cardiovascular diseases.
In a 12 week randomized controlled trial, twenty well-controlled subjects with type 2 diabetes were tested. The test results revealed that long term supplementation of chia seeds helps to reduce blood pressure and risk of heart diseases.
A study was conducted to assess the effect of consuming chia seeds, and its impact on cardiovascular risk factors revealed that there is insufficient evidence to prove chia seeds benefit heart health; still, further research needed in this regard.
Altogether we can say chia seeds can be beneficial to cardiac health but should be accompanied by a healthy lifestyle and diet.
Summary: Consuming chia seeds, along with a healthy lifestyle, can help to avoid cardiovascular diseases.
Chia Seeds May Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
Increased blood sugar is a common symptom of uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. Elevated blood sugar can harm many organs of your body and can also result in heart disease. Chia seeds have a low glycemic index and are beneficial for people suffering from high blood sugar levels.
Even the temporary spike in blood sugar level experienced after meals can harm your health. It is believed that chia seeds form a gelatinous coating around food, which prevents an immediate spike in blood sugar after meals. Chia seeds and chia seeds oil helps to restore your body’s antioxidant system, which helps to maintain blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity.
According to a study published in 2017, chia seeds have the ability to convert glucose into slow-release carbohydrates. This can be beneficial in type 2 diabetes to control blood sugar levels.
Chia seeds are high in fiber hence carry a low risk of increasing blood sugar or developing diabetes. Animal studies have found that chia seed increases insulin sensitivity and helps to maintain the blood sugar level.
Another randomized, double-blind study was conducted on eleven healthy individuals who consumed chia seed baked bread. It was observed that chia seeds significantly decreased the rise of the post-meal rise of blood sugar. This helps in maintaining blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes.
Summary: Chia seeds reduce the post-meal spike of blood sugar and increase insulin sensitivity. By reducing the blood sugar level, it helps in treating type 2 diabetes.
Chia Seeds Help Improve Digestion
One ounce of chia seeds contains 28 grams of carbs, and 80% of these carbs are formed of fiber. This fiber promotes a healthy digestive tract and regulates your bowel movements. It helps in the elimination of toxins from your body. Fiber belongs to the carbohydrate family but does not need insulin, nor it raises your blood sugar. Adding chia seeds to your food is a great way to make it a low-carb diet.
With high soluble carb content, chia seeds can absorb water ten to twelve times of their weight. This makes chia seeds swell and makes it a useful ingredient in your diet. This causes slower absorption of your food and feeling of fullness, helping you to eat fewer calories.
According to experts, adding chia seeds to your diet can bring positive changes in your gut microbes. Also, it is believed that adding chia seeds to yogurt can improve your satiety, making you crave less for unhealthy snacks.
Summary: Chia seeds mostly contain fiber that supports your digestive system, regulates bowel movements, and helps to avoid constipation.
Chia Seeds are Rich in Antioxidants
Chia seeds have a high antioxidant capacity, which is known for anti-aging and anticarcinogenic effects. They help to remove dead skin cells and prevent sagging of your skin. Chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory effects on your skin. Also, it is believed that these omega 3 fatty acids can protect your skin from UV radiation and reduce skin dryness by increasing the blood circulation.
Antioxidants fight against free radicals preventing skin cell damage and cancer-causing effects. As the seeds absorb more water, they help to maintain hydration of the skin surface, making the skin soft with better moisture retention. It is also proven that chia seed oil, when applied topically, benefits skin by acting as a moisturizing agent. Hence adding chia seed oil to your skincare regime can help you to fight against skin problems like photodamage and inflammation.
As mentioned earlier, chia seeds stabilize your blood sugar, improves digestion, and reduces your food cravings. Also, by providing healthy nutrition, it brings natural elasticity and youthful gloss to your skin. Chia seeds help to avoid health issues, which may affect your look, making you feel older. Thus by including chia seeds in your diet, in the long-term, can help you age gracefully.
Summary: With antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, chia seeds are hugely beneficial to your skin. It prevents sagging of your skin, reduces wrinkles, and helps in moisture retention.
Chia Seeds May Boost Memory
Chia seeds are filled with omega 3 fatty acids and neuroprotective antioxidants such as caffeic acid, myricetin, and chlorogenic acid. These vital fats and antioxidants produce neural cell membranes that are more flexible and efficient.
Healthy and efficient cell membranes result in proper nutrient delivery systems and faster nerve transmission processes. Thus chia seeds help in improving brain function, including memory and focus. Nerve impulses traveling through the brain; when their efficiency is increased, it becomes truly beneficial for memory. Long-term intake of chia seeds can boost memory, improve decision making, and alertness.
Summary: Omega 3 fatty acids and other antioxidant ingredients of chia seeds help in the proper functioning of the brain. When taken regularly, it can boost your memory and focus.
Chia Seeds Promote Metabolism
The high nutritive value of chia seeds helps to boost metabolism and energy. The presence of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals increases metabolism to a larger extent.
Consuming chia seeds can improve your metabolism as it contains a high amount of vitamin B. Also, chia seeds help in burning belly fat as they reduce visceral adipose tissue, which reduces obesity.
A study published in 2019 revealed that nutritional components of chia seeds could modify physiological and metabolic functions. This means antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins of chia seeds boost your metabolism to a higher level.
Summary: Chia seeds are most nutritious, which improves your body’s metabolism and energy.
Chia Seeds Support Bone Health
Chia seeds contain calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and protein, which are essential for bone health. The calcium content is higher than dairy products; hence it can be an excellent choice for people who don’t eat dairy.
An animal study published in 2018 revealed that long-term intake of chia seeds is associated with increased mineral content in bones. Athletes around the globe are choosing chia seeds to grow their skeletal mass.
Calcium present in chia seeds is higher than that of skimmed milk. Boron present in chia seeds is also an essential nutrient that helps in the metabolization of calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorus, for better growth of bones, muscles, and builds strong teeth. Adequate amounts of all these nutrients help to avoid joint pain and osteoporosis.
Summary: With a high content of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and protein, chia seeds are known to build healthy bones.
Chia Seeds Help Reduce Inflammation
Generally, inflammation is our body’s response to an infection. It is a way of our body fighting against infection-causing bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens. Some chronic inflammation can lead to cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Chronic inflammation is seen due to unhealthy lifestyles like smoking, lack of physical activity, and poor food choices.
A 12-week double-blind study conducted on twenty people having type 2 diabetes revealed that daily supplementation of chia seeds reduced the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein by 40%. It also says long term supplementation of chia seeds reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases along with maintaining glycemic and lipid profiles in type 2 diabetes.
Another study published in June 2019 says that chia seeds are associated with medicinal effects due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties. Chia seeds are beneficial in maintaining hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
Summary: Chia seeds help to reduce inflammatory markers leading to reduced chronic inflammation like cardiovascular diseases and hypertension.
Chia Seeds are Rich in Quality Proteins
Chia seeds contain high amounts of protein, which is by weight 14% proteins, highest among all plant foods. The seed flour includes a balance of essential amino acids and globulins, especially methionine and cysteine. The protein content brings various health benefits, especially as a dietary nutrient helps in weight loss.
A study has shown that chia seeds contain high dietary protein, which helps in lowering the body weight by decreasing the appetite and calorie intake.
Add 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to your morning fruit smoothies to get most of the protein you need for the day. For vegans looking for an alternative to meat and soy-based protein products, chia seeds fit perfectly.
Summary: Chia seeds are an excellent source of plant-based protein that helps in weight loss. It helps to reduce your appetite and food cravings.
Chia Seeds are Filled with Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Chia seeds are excellent sources of fatty acids, which can be beneficial in many ways. It is known for its anti-inflammation properties and improved circulation.
Cells of every organ and tissues get fundamental support through omega 3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acid, which is plant-based, is called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. This ALA needs to be transformed into active forms that are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), making it possible for your body to utilize it. Unfortunately, this conversion rate is quite low. Hence some experts consider chia seeds as a low-quality source of omega 3. Plant-based omega 3 is found inferior in comparison to animal sources such as fish oil.
Also, a randomized control trial published in 2007, intake of 37 grams of chia seeds daily, reduced the blood markers by 40%. This further plays a protective role for your heart.
Summary: Chia seeds contain high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids. But this plant-based omega 3 is not absorbed well from your body when compared to animal sources.
Chia Seeds Improve Athletic Performance
Chia seeds make a great energy drink, which can boost your performance without any rise in your sugar levels. A study was conducted to compare the athletic performance of athletes having chia seed sports drinks with traditional carbohydrate drinks. This study revealed that athletic performance duration was 90 minutes greater in athletes who consumed energy drinks containing chia seeds.
Chia seeds offer athletes a healthy fuel for energy and endurance. With anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it can be a great choice for a sports drink. Consuming chia seed health drinks before strenuous exercise can bring better outcomes.
Summary: Sports drink with chia seeds can boost your athletic performance without increasing the blood sugar level.
Different Ways to Incorporate Chia Seeds in Your Diet
Chia seeds carry a bland taste, which makes it incredibly easy to add it to your diet. They can be eaten raw or can be added to juice or smoothies. You can sprinkle these chia seeds in your cereals, salads, or fruits. A healthy porridge can be prepared by adding chia seeds to the milk and boiling the mixture.
You can ground chia seeds to make a powder form then add it to your flour, yogurt, or milk to make a healthy breakfast. As chia seeds can absorb water, they can be added to stews as thickening agents. Chia sprouts can be prepared by soaking chia seeds in water. Adding chia seeds to your meal boost the overall nutrition. Chia seeds can be used as a replacement for eggs in vegan baking.
Chia seeds are tolerated well by your body. The recommended dose for chia seeds is 15 to 20 grams or 2 tablespoons twice a day.
Due to its antioxidant properties, chia seeds don’t go rancid soon. It can be stored for several months. Store chia seeds in an airtight container for a month or more. Chia gel can be safely stored for two weeks in the fridge.
The Risks Associated with Chia Seeds
Though chia seeds carry many health benefits, when consumed excessively, its fiber content can cause diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, gas, and bloating. Sometimes you may also experience allergies, rashes, and vomiting.
Chia seeds can absorb a high amount of water; hence swallowing dry seeds can obstruct your digestive tract. Consuming chia seeds by adding them to other food items or after soaking them can be better.
Chia seeds can reduce blood pressure, and they act as blood thinners. If you are taking any medications for high blood pressure, consult your doctor so that the medication can be dosed appropriately.
Rarely, people who are sensitive to mustard seeds, oregano, or thyme may experience adverse effects of chia seeds. Chia seeds have many health benefits, and consuming them in moderation can help you avoid these health risks.
The Final Note
Chia seeds are a great source of nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and omega 3 fatty acids. They can be easily added to your diet to experience its various health benefits like weight loss, reduced blood sugar, improved digestion, and many more.
You can find these mild nutty-flavored chia seeds in any grocery store. The nutritional value and ease of consumption make chia seeds a great choice for its multiple benefits. As explained above, chia seeds are not a miraculous solution for weight loss. To lose weight, follow a healthy lifestyle and diet.
Developing research suggests that including chia seeds in your healthy diet helps to improve cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure. If you want to try something new which meets your low-calorie diet restrictions and brings overall health benefits, chia seeds can be a perfect choice.