Do you know what are superfoods? Do you know what are the different kinds of superfoods and why are they called by this name? Here, we will discuss one of the superfoods called chia seeds and know all the health benefits of chia seeds.
If you’re not someone who is at the kitchen trying new recipes all the time or have the best of culinary ideas, you might not know chia seeds at all. Chia seeds can be a great addition to your diet because it comes with plenty of benefits. This is also the reason why they are termed as a superfood. Check out all that you need to know about this ingredient.
What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are tiny black color seeds and goes by the name scientific name of Salvia hispanica. It is one of the best ingredients that nature has blessed us with, but surprisingly many don’t know what it is.
Chia seeds originate from Mexico and date back to the Mayan and Aztec cultures. They are high in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, antioxidants, calcium, and more. The seeds are naturally laxative and go well with your gut.
According to history, the Aztec warriors were known to consume chia seeds to enhance endurance. Legends have stated that a spoonful of these seeds can sustain a person’s hunger for 24 hours.
As per Mayan language, the term ‘chia’ stands for strength. The unprocessed seeds make amazing whole-grain food that your body can easily absorb. These seeds were originally used like an equine feed, but later science revealed the health benefits of chia seeds and ways to use for humans.
People who have a vague idea of chia seeds generally confuse it with basil seeds. Most people also speculate the taste of chia seeds – well they taste a lot like alfalfa sprouts! Let us find out some more facts about this culinary ingredient.
Facts about chia seeds
- Chia belong to the mint family and that’s why they are safe from any type of insect. Insects keep away from mint and that’s why chia seeds can grow without using pesticides.
- It is said that chia seeds were used as currency by Aztecs
- Chia seeds cannot grow in any climatic condition. It can only grow between 23-degree south and 23-degree north latitude.
- Wayne Caotes discovered chia seeds during the 90s while leading a project in Argentina to look for cash crops to benefit farmers
- Chia seed flowers look lovely in white and purple colors
Health benefits of chia seeds
Recently, the fitness and health industry has given major importance to the health benefits of chia seeds. Many have started incorporating them into their daily diet. Here, we will find out what makes these seeds so useful:
1. Lots of nutrients
A primary reason why an ingredient can benefit you is the amount of nutrients it has. The tiny black seeds of chia are priced due to providing sustainable energy. Despite being a part of ancient history, these seeds were recognized recently.
One ounce or 28 gm of chia seeds can provide:
- 11 grams of fiber
- 4 grams of protein
- 9 grams of fat including 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids
- 18% of RDI for calcium
- 30% of RDI for manganese
- 30% of RDI for magnesium
- 27% of RDI for phosphorus
Apart from these nutrients, the seeds also include zinc, potassium, vitamin B1, B2, and B3.
The amount of nutrients is quite impressive compared to being just an ounce or two tablespoons of chia seeds. The tiny amount offers 137 calories and 1 gram of digestible carbs.
If you minus the fiber content, the chia seeds will not end up having usable calories for the body. Every ounce of chia seeds include 101 calories. Thus, it is one of the best sources of rich nutrients.
To top this all up, the seeds fall under the whole-grain category and are mostly grown organically. Moreover, they are gluten free naturally and certified to be non-GMO. Need we say more about the health benefits of chia seeds?
2. Rich in antioxidants
Were all the nutrients not enough that this superfood had to fight free radicals as well? NO! Chia seeds have a high level of antioxidant content that protects sensitive fat and prevent cell damage. They also range from preventing your early aging signs to protecting you from cancer.
3. Good carbs
Looking for good carbs to add to your diet? Consider chia seeds to be one of the best options. One ounce of these seeds includes 12 gm of carbs, but 11 gm is due to fiber and not bad carbs.
Fiber doesn’t raise blood sugar or need insulin to get disposed. It belongs to the carb family, but it has health benefits. They are different from the digestible carbs of sugar or starch.
The level of digestible carb in chia seeds is just 1 gm per ounce, and that’s quite little. If you’re looking for a good low-carb food you need to turn to chia seeds.
Due to a high level of soluble fiber in these seeds, they can absorb around 12 times of water weight and turn into a gel-like formula. It increases fullness, slowly absorbs food, and helps you consume fewer calories. Moreover, fiber feeds friendly bacteria present in the intestine. It keeps your gut happy and maintains weight.
4. High in protein quality
Health benefits of chia seeds are also due to its large protein content. As per the weight, they have 14% of protein and that’s higher than most plants. The seeds are high in amino acids and helps your body to channelize the protein content.
There are many health benefits of protein as it is one of the best dietary elements to lose or maintain weight. High protein intake lowers your appetite and obsessive imagination about food. The desire to snack goes down by half and you stay mentally happier. Chia seeds are one of the best sources of protein for vegans who cannot consume eggs or meat.
5. Weight loss
Health experts claim that chia seeds can improve weight loss results. The soluble fiber absorbs huge amounts of water weight that tends to expand your stomach and create fullness. It also slows down the absorption of food to keep you full for long even while eating small proportions.
Many studies examined soluble fiber called glucomannan that works similarly and aid weight loss. The level of protein present in chia seeds reduces appetite and keeps you away from food.
According to a study, chia seeds are good for breakfast and increases satiety. It needs you to eat less and in small portions to help manage weight better. However, only having chia seeds will not help you maintain or reduce weight. You need to add it to the right kind of diet and exercise regimen in order to find it effective enough.
6. Rich in omega-3
The health benefits of chia seeds are similar to flaxseeds when you consider fatty acids. You can alternate or substitute these with salmon to add significant omega-3 to your body. You should also know how much to consume because overeating fatty acids will add too much of alpha-linolenic acid to your body. Human bodies cannot convert this acid in its active form, so they stay within us.
7. Lowers chances of heart disease
As chia seeds have high amounts of protein, fiber, and fatty acids, they might reduce the chances of heart problems. The benefits of these have been shown through many studies, but there haven’t been definitive conclusions.
Studies done on rats have shown that the seeds do reduce risk factors like inflammation, triglycerides, insulin resistance, belly fat, and more. They can also increase the level of good cholesterol.
Among many human studies, one study did not show any significant results on this note. However, some studies have proven that chia seeds reduce blood pressure in people who have hypertension – a strong problem that causes heart diseases.
8. Good for the bones
The health benefits of chia seeds reflect better bone health along with so many other reasons. These seeds have lots of calcium, magnesium, protein, and phosphorus. The calcium content is impressive with 18% of RDI in every ounce.
9. Chia seeds reduce blood sugar
Having high blood sugar level is one of the main causes of type 2 diabetes. If the level is consistent you can have a chronic condition and heart problems. Even a temporary high blood sugar level after a meal can have a bad reaction in your body.
Studies done on animals show that chia seeds can improve the level of insulin sensitivity and control blood sugar. It stabilizes blood sugar levels after a meal as well. There were also studies done on human, where people were serviced with bread topped with chia seeds after a large meal. There was a much lower level of blood sugar found compared to that of what the bread alone could have contributed.
10. Reduces chronic inflammation
An inflammation happens usually like an after effect of infection or an injury. Our skin becomes swollen and red. Inflammation does help the body heal, fight bacteria, and viruses, they also cause harm.
If you have a chronic inflammation that is related to an increased risk of heart disease or cancer, you might be critical. Not many of us can diagnose or understand what chronic inflammation is like – it isn’t always visible too. These happen due to an unhealthy lifestyle that includes lack of exercise, bad diet, smoking, and more.
Having healthy food can reduce levels of such inflammatory markers, and chia seeds are one of them. A 3-month study done on 20 people who had diabetes, showed lesser signs of inflammation after consuming chia seeds. They use to eat 37 gm every day and that reduces the level of an inflammatory marker by 40%. Another group was given wheat barn to expect similar results, but that didn’t work out.
How to add chia seeds in food?
Seeds aren’t like a vegetable that you can add to your salad, you need to know the recipes that you can add them with. Check out easy ways to incorporate chia seeds in your diet:
1. Chia water
Add 40 gm of chia seeds into one liter of water and let it sit for half an hour. Add chopped fruits or squeeze in lemon or orange to add flavor. Drink the water up including the seeds. If you can do it without flavoring, just have the water.
2. Chia smoothies
Whenever you’re making smoothies just add one tablespoon full of chia seeds into the mixture. It gets ground with the other fruits, yogurt, and other smoothie essentials and makes a complete meal.
3. Stir fry
You can add chia seeds as a topping on your stir-fried chicken. It gives the dish a savory taste along with the health benefits of chia.
4. Salad dressing
Just the way you’d add chia seeds to your stir fry chicken, add them to your salads too. You can add them raw and snack on them during supper. It will keep you full and also improve the taste of the salad mix.
Do you love making pancakes for breakfast? Add some chia seeds to the mix to make it have protein content in it.
6. Add to dips
A nachos dip will like to have some chia seeds in it to make the experience tasty and savory. It could be a cheat snack that gives you the comfort of adding a good ingredient too.
Ground 15 mg of chia seeds and add them to your oatmeal. These can replace your regular almonds and walnuts that you might usually add for fiber.
Many of us love to have a bowl full of plain yogurt after a low-carb lunch. Add some chia seeds along for nutritional value and to also make the dish crunchy.
It is important to understand that everyone can have a limited amount of chia seeds in their diet. But excessive consumption will not only be harmful but also not give you the kind of benefits you’re looking for. You can always have an ounce of it every day or on alternative days, but have to keep in mind the other things you eat through the day. Maintain a healthy exercise and diet regimen to be able to relish the benefits at its best.