Chia seeds get their name from the Mayans. Chia means strength and evidences have indicated that humans began consuming chia seeds around 3500 BC. The ancient Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds regularly, usually by grinding them into flour, pressing them for oil, and drinking them with water. They believed chia seeds were magical because of their ability to increase stamina and energy over long periods of time. With recent scientific studies, the many benefits of chia seeds have been proven.
What Are the Benefits of Chia Seeds?
There are a number of proven health benefits of chia seeds which include:
- Many Nutrients and Very Little Calories
Chia seeds contain calcium, manganese, phosphorous, B vitamins, zinc, potassium, magnesium, fiber, protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Besides, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds contain only 137 calories.
- Contain Powerful Antioxidants
The antioxidants in chia seeds can fight the production of free radicals in the body. Free radicals can damage cells, resulting in aging and diseases such as cancer. These antioxidants also protect the fats in the seeds from going rancid.
- Almost All the Carbs Are Fiber
Of the 12 grams of carbohydrates contained in 1 ounce of chia seeds, 11 grams are fiber which goes undigested by the body. It doesn’t raise blood sugar. The fiber also absorbs water, leaving you feeling full and slowing food absorption. The fiber content also feeds friendly bacteria, keeping your gut healthy.
- High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Chia seeds are very high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is even more than that in salmon! But you should notice that the omega-s fatty acids in chai seeds are ALA and EPA, not DHA. EPA and DHA can be directly used by human body while ALA cannot.
- High in Protein
Chia seeds contain fourteen percent protein, among the highest percent among plant sources, and contain many amino acids. A high protein diet can aid in weight loss by reducing appetite as well as obsessive thoughts of food.
- Help You Lose Weight
Both the high fiber and high protein content can help you lose weight. Protein helps suppress appetite and the fiber absorbs water, slowing food absorption and making you feel full. While chia seeds alone cannot help with weight loss, adding them to your diet can have a positive impact if you follow a healthier eating habit.
- Can Lower the Risk of Heart Disease
Chia seeds can improve metabolic health because of its high protein and fiber content. In studies, chia seeds had showed an improvement in blood pressure as well as a small drop in blood sugar, which would be good to heart disease.
- Can Lower the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
It also has been proved that a diet including Chia seeds, oat, soy protein can lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while increase HDL cholesterol, as well as reduce inflammation.
- High in Bone Nutrients
Chia seeds contain high amounts of calcium, which is great for people who do not consume dairy. They also contain protein, phosphorous and magnesium, which are all important nutrients for bone health.
- Can Improve Exercise Performance
While the ancient Aztecs and Mayans swore chia seeds improved stamina, a study showed that they can help exercise performance as much as a sports drink.
- Can Be Easily Added to Your Diet
Chia seeds are very easy to incorporate into your diet. You can add them to puddings, yogurts, baked goods and smoothies as they can be eaten raw and do not need to be ground up. They can also be used to thicken soups and sauces and as an egg substitute in many recipes.
Note: Chia seeds have many health benefits, but they should not be a substitute for eating a well-rounded healthy diet.
How to Add Chia Seeds to Your Diet
Here are some simple ways to incorporate chia seeds into your diet:
- Chia Oatmeal. Chia seeds readily absorb liquids, so they’re a great way to thicken up a bowl of oatmeal while adding some chia seeds to help fill you up. Just mix a tablespoon of the seeds directly into your cooked oats, or you can “gel” them first by soaking some in ¾ cup of milk or almond milk. If you don’t like oatmeal, you can sprinkle chia seeds over cold cereal or yogurt for a breakfast boost.
- Chia Fresca. This is a Mexican version of lemonade and has been brewed for centuries. To make it, add one tablespoon of chia seeds to an 8-oz. glass of water, then sweeten with a teaspoon of agave nectar or stevia. Let sit for ten to fifteen minutes or until the seeds completely absorb the sweetened water.
- Chia Smoothies. You can “gel” one tablespoon of chia seeds in your choice of milk or water and blend with a cup of fresh or frozen fruit, adding the thickness of your go-to smoothie, as well as a dose healthy fats, fiber, protein and antioxidants.
- Chia Recipes. There are many chia recipes available on the internet, and here is a chia-based dessert recipe that’s pretty easy and delicious. Blend almond milk, cardamom, cherries, stevia and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Then soak the chia seeds in the mixture and wait until thickened. Top with homemade cashew cream, which is made by mixing water-soaked cashews, cherries, stevia and vanilla well. Enjoy!
If you like chia seed pudding, watch the video below: