Typically, they are grown organically and do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
They are black or white. If the seeds are brown they are not yet ripe.
They grow natively in South America. Ancient Mayans and Aztecs used them for many purposes, including medicine.
In ancient Mayan culture, “chia” means “strength”.
They are sometimes compared to flaxseeds because they have similar in nutritional value.
Advantages of chia seeds over flax seeds include:
- They do not go rancid as quickly as flaxseed.
- They do not have to be ground before eaten.
Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds
1. Incredible Nutrition
A 1-ounce (28.4 gram or about 2 tablespoons) serving of chia seeds provides: (1)
- 11 grams of fiber
- 4.7 grams of protein
- 17% RDA of calcium
- 12% RDA of iron
- 23% RDA of magnesium
They also contain phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids (healthy fats) and are rich in antioxidants.
They are a “whole grain” food and are safe for people who have celiac and those who are gluten intolerant.
This is great news for those who have to severely restrict their intake of grains. Eating chia seeds, they don’t have to worry about suffering from side effects of foods with gluten.
3. Easy To Include In Your Eating Plan
Because they are bland, you can put them in just about anything. Simply Google “chia seeds recipes” and you’ll find over 2,000,000 results!
I enjoy them in my favorite Peanut Butter Protein Shake. They have a slightly nutty taste and take on the flavors of the foods they’re incorporated with. If you’re wanting to eat a healthy diet, chia seeds are an easy, nutrition-packed food you can use in a variety of dishes.
They are a delicious addition to Greek yogurt and fruit.
Many people enjoy them for dessert in puddings.
And how about adding them to stir-frys or casseroles?
4. Reduce Cancer Risk
Due to the high fiber content in the seeds, they can help with digestive health and lower your risk of colorectal cancer.
The high amounts of alpha linoleic acid (or ALA) found in chia seeds can limit cancer cell growth in cervical and breast cancers. The ALAs also caused the cancer cells to die and didn’t harm normal cells. (3)
They help the skin heal and repair quickly. That means healthy, glowing skin and fewer wrinkles. And who doesn’t love that?!
6. Bone Health
Chia seeds provide more than 18% of the RDA of calcium, and that’s in merely 1 ounce! They’re a great alternative to dairy products for people who are allergic to dairy, or are simply looking for other options.
They contain many vital nutrients that promote bone health. These include:
The high amounts of protein, healthy fats and fiber reduce appetite and cravings. Also, when liquid combines with chia seeds, the outer layer absorbs the liquid, causing the seed to swell and form a gel, which further increases satiety.
Satiety, or feeling full, can help with weight maintenance or weight loss. When we feel full and satisfied we’re much less likely to overeat.
8. Regulates Blood Sugar
A study of Type-2 Diabetes patients (done in 2007) showed chia seeds significantly lowered their blood pressure, a risk factor for diabetes. (4)
They have also been shown to cause a drop in blood sugar.
Check out another way to lower blood sugar here.
9. Muscle-Building Protein
With close to 14% protein, they provide a good amount of this muscle-building macronutrient.
Eating plenty of high quality protein, like chia seeds, can greatly reduce your appetite and help with weight loss. (5)
10. Low-Carbohydrate Food
Are you watching your carb intake? If so, you’re not alone. Due to their high fiber content, chia seeds contain only 1 net carbohydrate gram per ounce.
11. May Lower Risk Of Heart Disease
According to studies done on rats, chia seeds can reduce inflammation, raise HDL (the good cholesterol) and lower triglycerides. (6)
They have also been found to lower insulin resistance and decrease belly fat. (7)
12. Increase Energy And Metabolism
A recent study showed that chia seeds provided enhanced sports performance when given to people who trained more that 90 minutes. (8)
Consuming a serving of chia seeds per day can also increase your metabolism and burn belly fat.
How To Eat Chia Seeds
If you want to get the greatest nutritional value from your chia seeds you may want to grind or soak them. This makes their rich nutrients more readily available for absorption.
If you choose to soak them, here’s what you need to know:
- Mix about 1.5 tablespoons of chia seeds in a glass with 1 cup of water.
- Let them soak for about 1 to 2 hours, or until they become gel-like.
I have heard of people swallowing a tablespoon of raw, unsoaked chia seeds. But based on what I’ve read, I’d advise against this. Because the seeds absorb water, they can stick together in a clump and become difficult to swallow.
Please always drink plenty of water or other fluids (such as milk, juice or incorporated in a smoothie) when eating your chia seeds.
There are so many excellent health benefits of chia seeds!