If you’re like most people, you probably think of chia seeds as just a cute little decoration for your Chia Pet. However, these tiny seeds are actually a powerful superfood that offer a wealth of health benefits. Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, protein, and minerals like zinc and magnesium. They have a mild flavor that makes them perfect for adding to smoothies, yogurt, or cereal.
And best of all, they’re low in calories and carbs, making them an excellent addition to any diet. In this article, we will discuss the many health benefits of chia seeds and provide some recipes for incorporating them into your diet.
#1 – Highly Nutritious
One of the most impressive things about chia seeds is their nutrient density. Just one ounce (28 grams) contains:
- Calories: 138
- Protein: 4.7 grams
- Fat: 8.7 grams
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): 5 grams
- Carbs: 11.9 grams
- Fiber: 9.8 grams
- Calcium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Iron: 12% of the DV
- Magnesium: 23% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 20% of the DV
- Zinc: 12% of the DV
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 15% of the DV
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): 16% of the DV
This nutritional profile is particularly impressive considering that it’s for just a single serving of about two tablespoons.
#2 – Loaded with Antioxidants
Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants, which help protect your cells from damage.
They’re especially high in a type of antioxidants called flavonoids, including quercetin and kaempferol .
These two flavonoids may offer some powerful health benefits, such as reduced inflammation and a lower risk of chronic diseases like heart disease.
What’s more, chia seeds contain other important antioxidants, including chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid .
These nutrients scavenge harmful toxins and byproducts that can damage cells, leading to inflammation.
Inflammation is a major factor in many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis.
#3 – May Support Weight Loss
Chia seeds may also help with weight loss.
In one study, 60 overweight adults took either a placebo or 25 grams of chia seeds per day for 12 weeks.
At the end of the study, those in the chia group had significantly lower levels of inflammation, as well as lower blood sugar and insulin levels.
All of these are risk factors for obesity and other chronic diseases.
Another study showed that chia seeds may help reduce visceral fat, the harmful belly fat that surrounds your organs.
Visceral fat is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
For these reasons, chia seeds may be a helpful addition to your weight loss diet.
#4 – May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
Chia seeds are high in fiber, omega-three fatty acids, protein, and antioxidants.
All of these nutrients have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
In one study, people with diabetes who ate 37 grams of chia seeds per day for 12 weeks had a significant reduction in their systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading).
Another small study found that chia seeds reduced inflammation and improved cholesterol levels in people with heart disease.
Chia seeds are also a good source of fiber.
In addition to promoting regularity, fiber has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
The soluble fiber in chia seeds absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance.
This gel-like substance slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, which can help regulate blood sugar levels.
Chia seeds are also a good source of protein.
Protein is essential for the growth and maintenance of all cells in the body.
It is also necessary for the production of enzymes and hormones.
Chia seeds are a complete protein, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
They are also necessary for the proper function of enzymes and hormones.
#5 – Contain Many Important Bone Nutrients
Chia seeds are a good source of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
These minerals are essential for the development and maintenance of bones and teeth.
Calcium is also necessary for muscle contraction, nerve function, and blood clotting.
Phosphorus is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.
Magnesium is necessary for energy production, muscle contraction, and nerve function.
#6 – May Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
Chia seeds can help to regulate blood sugar levels.
This is due to their high fiber content and the fact that they slow down the absorption of carbohydrates.
In a study of people with type II diabetes, those who ate chia seeds had lower blood sugar levels after meals.
In particular, older research from 2010 and 2013 suggests that eating bread containing chia seeds helps lower post-meal rises in blood sugar among healthy adults, compared with eating bread without chia seeds.
#7 – Easy to Incorporate into Your Diet
Chia seeds are very easy to incorporate into your diet.
They can be added to many different foods, including yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, smoothies, and baked goods.
They can also be eaten on their own as a snack.
What’s more, chia seeds do not need to be ground up in order to be enjoyed.
You can simply add them to your food and they will start to work their nutritional magic.
Chia seeds are a powerhouse of health benefits and should be included in your diet. They’re an excellent source of fiber, protein, Vitamin B1, antioxidants, and minerals. Add them to smoothies, yogurt or oatmeal for a nutrient boost, or enjoy them on their own as a healthy snack. With so many health benefits, it’s no wonder chia seeds have been called a superfood!