Chia seeds have been a popular subject of discussion among nutritionists lately and there is plenty of reason for it. What is a chia seed? This little seed comes from a mint type plant called Salvia Hispanica and has been very popularly used since centuries by people living in Mexican valleys and Gutemala. The chia seed has been used as an energy food by Aztecs and Mayan warriors back in the day. In fact, the name “Chia” means “strength”.
A series of studies by scientists and nutritionists have discovered major health benefits of chia seeds. Now, millions of people all over the world have adopted this seed as a regular food item. It is now commercially cultivated in Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Australia and Bolivia.
So, without further ado, let us tell you 9 major benefits of this seed.
1. Chia seeds are an excellent source for healthy nutrition with lots of minerals.
The chia seeds contain several nutrients that are very beneficial to our health. It is very rich in vitamins B1, B2 and B3, iron, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. One ounce (28 grams) of this seed contains less than 140 calories and approximately 1 gram of carbs. How’s that for nutritious? This is an organically grown “whole grain” food with hardly any gluten in it. It is actually healthier than “whole grain” foods such as brown rice and oats.
2. Chia seeds contain good quality protein.
You get more natural protein in this seed than other seeds and grains. Approximately 15% of the total weight of this seed is protein…that is really high. The protein in it is easily absorbed by our body because of the essential amino acids that is sufficiently present in the seed.
3. Chia seeds have healthy carbohydrates
Chia seeds are a good source of non-gluten carbs. Nearly 45% of the actual weight of the seed is carbs, but the high carb content is not going to be fully absorbd by the body as above 75% of it is blended with fiber which will not pass the carb into the bloodstream. (Actually, what is interesting is the seeds turn into a thick gel when it comes in contact with water in the stomach and it blocks the carbs, so it also in turn makes us feel satiated faster). More than one third of the actual weight of the chia seed is fiber. No wonder why this seed is a super food for everyone!
4. Chica seeds contain essential fatty acids
The fatty acids are very essential nutrients for the body which controls several body functions. They play a crucial role in regulating blood pressure and inflammatory responses. The seed also has Omega-3 fatty acids, and if you go by the weight, this amazing seed has more Omega-3s than sea food, such as salmon and tuna.
5. Chia seeds nutrition is good for weight loss
There is evidence from various studies that show chia seeds as a weight loss solution is a reality. This first quality in this seed that makes it a good weight loss food is the 40% of the total weight of this seed is fiber, like we previously mentioned. (making us feel full very fast!) The second major weight loss benefit is the good amount of lean protein contained in this seed. Lean protein makes our body healthy and acts as an appetite suppressant. Taking a few spoonfuls of chia seeds may not produce significant weightloss; however, it works well with weight loss when it is used as part of a complete diet plan in conjunction with other foods and supplements.
6. Chia seeds improves cholesterol and reduces chances of heart attacks
Another big advantage of this seed is its potential to promote healthy cholesterol and improve the health of the heart. It promotes good metabolism as it contains a good amount of protein, fiber and fatty acids. It has also been proven in reducing the LDL cholesterol and increasing the HDL cholesterol level in the blood. As fatty acids are present in this seed, it could help lowering triglycerides in blood which will help in reducing insulin resistance, belly fats and inflammation. Of course, the seed alone will not render all these benefits, without a properly balanced diet!
7. Chia seeds are good for preventing Type 2 diabetes
This is great news for all Type 2 diabetes patients – chia seeds can prevent and reduce the effects of diabetes to a good bit. In one study, Type 2 diabetes patients who used 37 grams of chia seeds daily for 12 weeks were able to make progress in reducing a particular inflammation which gives rise to factors in the blood. The study also showed clear results in reduced blood pressure and remarkable decrease in factors in the blood. It concluded that these people could include chia seeds in their diet plan to get relief from the adverse effects of this disease. The high fibrous content of chia seeds also acts as a block to limit the sugar and carb absorption.
8. Chia seeds gives an instant boost of energy
If legend is true, the Mayans and Aztecs has chia seeds as their energy diet to enhance their performance in wars and sports. Studies have been done where the seeds quickly improve energy levels. In fact, the studies showed that there is no difference between Gatorade and chia seeds as both of them produced similar amount of stamina and energy. More than the energy supply, the carb from this seed increases stamina in endurance events. It allows a higher absorption of nutrients and lower absorption of sugar (empty calories). You are probably baffled on how this fiber rich seed could supply all this!!
9. Chia seeds contain good antioxidants
Antioxidants help fight oxidation, a usual chemical process which keeps occurring at a regular basis in our bodies, which leads to the formation of “free radicals” and causes inflammation. They provide the best quality of antioxidants that our body can receive than any supplements. Studies have proven time and time again that having sufficient amounts of antioxidants in food can help in prevention of cancers rising out of inflammation. It is certainly good to include this super food in your daily diet plan as it has so many good benefits on health and immunity.
So now you are probably wondering how to incorporate this super food into your food recipes. Like the flax seed and beans, it is very simple and easy to include this food into your diet. It is quite versatile, and integrates well with almost all common foods such as smoothies, mixed veggie dishes, etc. You can even eat this seed raw with no discomfort at all. It goes well with cereals, rice preparations, yogurt and salads. Also, as chia seeds have an unusual ability to absorb a lot of water and fat, it is good for thickening soups and sauces.
It is highly recommended that you include chia seeds in your diet for the multiple health benefits it can bring to you. How about trying them in the following recipe?
Banana-Chia Seed Parfait
total time: less than 10 minutes, depending on blending time
total hands on time: less than 10 minutes
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 sliced fresh banana
- 2.5 tbsps chia seed gel (we used white chia) *Read below how to make the chia gel
- 3/4 cup of greek yogurt
- drizzle of honey
- sprinkle of cinnamon
2. Place the blended frozen banana in the bottom of a parfait glass, if you have one. If not, a mug or even a tumbler should do.
3. Layer the chia seeds on top of the banana.
4. Layer the greek yogurt on top of the chia seeds.
5. Top with sliced fresh bananas, a drizzle of honey and a tiny sprinkle of cinnamon.