Chia seeds are the seeds from the Salvia hispanica flower, a plant in the mint family. While discussing health benefits of chia seeds, Dr. Oz from the Oprah show said, “They just may be one of the healthiest things around.”
Chia seeds may be added to many foods as a topping or put into smoothies, breakfast cereals, yogurts, fruit juice, tea or milk for a nutrient boost. Including chia seeds into your daily menu is a good idea. It is never too late to change your diet to maintain or even improve your health. In other words, it’s time to “update” your diet.
Surprising Facts about Chia Seeds
- Native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala, chia was cultivated by the Aztecs in pre-Columbian times. Economic historians suggest that it was a staple food that was used as widely as maize.
- In 2009, the European Union approved chia seeds as a novel food, allowing chia to be 5% of a bread product’s total matter.
What Makes Chia Seeds Different?
- Chia seeds contain more Omega-3 fatty acids than salmon! They are the richest plant source of Omega-3, including α-linolenic acid.
- The seeds contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 in the most beneficial ratio.
- Chia seeds are calorie-low.
- Over 80% of all the carbs in chia seeds are fiber.
- Among all plant foods, chia seeds are the highest in quality protein.
6 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are all-around-health. There are dozens of impressive health benefits that you can get by including them in your diet. While discussing health benefits of chia seed, Dr. Oz from the Oprah show said, “They just may be one of the healthiest things around.”
In pre-Columbian times, chia seeds were a staple food for the Aztecs that was used as widely as maize. The Aztecs didn’t know about vitamins and essential minerals. They ate chia seeds because that food made them strong and healthy. Maybe, we should learn from their wisdom?
Today, consumption of chia seeds is under preliminary research for its potential health benefits. However, knowing the seeds’ content, we can suggest that it’s only a matter of time to prove it.
- Chia seeds may strengthen your bones: They are high in many important bone nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. A calcium content is great in chia seeds. And even though only about 20% of it our body can absorb, chia seeds may be considered as a rich source of calcium for people who don’t eat dairy.
- They are beneficial for people with Type2 diabetes: Over 80% of all the carbs in chia seeds are fiber, which is not digested by the body. Fiber is not the type of carbohydrates that raises blood sugar and requires insulin to be disposed to treat it. Actually, fiber shouldn’t count as a carb. This leads scientists to believe chia seeds may have great benefits for diabetics.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Surprisingly, chia seeds contain more Omega-3 fatty acids than salmon! They are the richest plant source of Omega-3, essential fatty acids that our body cannot produce on its own. Omega-3s raise the “good” cholesterol that protects against heart attack and stroke.
- Chia seeds are great for weight loss: The content of dietary fiber that our body cannot digest is very high. The true carb content is very low. This makes chia a low-carb friendly food. Also, chia seeds are relatively high in protein, one of the most weight loss friendly macronutrients.
- Chia seeds help regulate blood pressure: High level of potassium and low level of sodium present in the seeds help regulate blood pressure.
- Chia seeds may improve men’s health and sexual drive due to a high content of zinc.
Chia Seeds for Vegans
Every vegan must include chia seeds into their diet for a few good reasons:
- Chia seeds are the richest plant source of Omega-3, higher than salmon.
- Chia seeds are easier to digest than flax seeds, and they don’t need to be ground up.
- Published in the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association” in 2010, a study stated that the gel from ground seeds may be used to replace the egg content in cakes while providing other nutrients. They could be a common substitute in vegan baking.
- Compared to all other plant foods, chia seeds are higher in quality protein. By weight, they are about 14-17% protein that has many essential amino acids.
- Chia seeds may be considered as a rich source of calcium for people who don’t eat dairy.
Chia Seeds for Weight Loss
Many dietitians started recommending chia seeds for weight loss. They are really great diet helpers:
- They reduce food cravings and make you feel fuller faster while providing you with many essential nutrients.
- One tablespoon of chia seeds has nearly 20% of fiber. The dietary fiber contributes to the sensation of feeling full but our body cannot digest it. Actually, it shouldn’t count as a “carb.” The true carb content is very low. This makes chia a low-carb friendly food.
- Chia seeds are relatively high in protein, one of the most weight loss friendly macronutrients.
How Many Chia Seeds Can You Eat Per Day?
One ounce of chia seeds (28g or about 2 tablespoons) per day is often recommended. One tablespoon of chia seeds contains 70 calories, 0.5g of saturated fat, 6g of fiber, 2g of protein, 90mg of calcium, and 2.5g of Omega-3.
Percent Daily Value (%DV) is a guide to the nutrients in one serving of food. For example, 40% for protein means that one serving provides 40% of the protein you need each day. It helps you make informed food choices. DVs are based on a 2,000-calorie diet for healthy adults.