This seed is very popularly used for centuries by people living in the Mexican valleys and Guatemala.
It is a little black seed got from a mint type plant called Salvia Hispanica.
In the 1990s, a series of studies conducted by a group of American agricultural scientists and nutritionists discovered several health benefits of chia seeds.
As for now, millions of people all over the world have adopted this seed as a regular food item. It is now commercially cultivated in Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia and Australia.
In this article let me present you with 9 of the major health benefits of Chia seeds. Let us also see its weight loss effectiveness, chia seed recipes, and side effects facts as well.
1. Chia Seeds Are Excellent Source For Healthy Nutrition With Lot Of Minerals
The chia seeds contain several nutrients that are very beneficial for our health.
Here is the list of minerals found in this superfood.
It is also very rich in Vitamin B1, B2, and B3.
One ounce (28 grams) of this seed contains less than 140 calories and approximately 1 gram of carbohydrate. This shows how good this food is.
The calories in this seed are actually bundled up with the fiber which will reduce the usable calories to a much lower percentage than actually present.
This is an organically grown ‘whole grain’ food with hardly any gluten in it.
Because of excellent nutritional content, this seed is better than the other healthy ‘whole grain’ foods like brown rice and oats.
2. Chia Seeds Contain Good Quality Protein
Chia seeds possess the nutritional contents found in both cereals and grains.
In this seed, you will get more natural protein than other seeds and grains. Approximately 15% of the total weight of this seed is protein. It is really high.
The organic protein is good for health. You can take a lot of lean protein without the fear of weight gain and cholesterol issues.
The benefits of protein are not only in improving your health but also will help you to suppress the appetite and stop craving for foods which are high in empty calories.
Especially the vegetarians who have limited choices for organic proteins can meet the protein requirements of the body by having this seed regularly.
In this seed, you can get the best quality of protein in good amount.
3. Chia Has Healthy Carbohydrates
A healthy amount of carbohydrate is important for us to meet the day today calorie requirements of the body.
Chia seed is a good source of non-gluten carbohydrates. Nearly 45% of the actual weight of the seed is carbohydrate.
But the high carbohydrate content in this seed is not going to be fully absorbed by the body as above 75% of it is blended with fiber that will not pass the carb into the bloodstream.
The fiber in the chia seeds turns into a thick gel when it comes in contact with water in the stomach, and it blocks the carbohydrates.
Chia seeds actually fall into low carb foods category because of high fiber content.
The people who are on a low carb diet can comfortably eat this seed with no adverse effects of the carbs present in it.
The fiber in it not only blocks the carbohydrates but also 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. Chia Seeds Contain Essential Fatty Acids
The fatty acids are essential nutrients for the body which controls several body functions.
Chia seed has Omega-3 fatty acids in it. If you go by the weight, this seed has more Omega-3s than kinds of seafood like salmon and tuna.
But there is a little drawback with Omega-3 fatty acids got from plant source like chia seeds because it is mostly in Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) form.
The human body does not have the inbuilt mechanism to convert ALA into EPA and DHA by itself.
Of course, DHA is actually an essential Omega-3 fatty acid for the body… so you need to look for it in sea foods or DAH supplements.
5. Chia Seeds Nutrition Is Good For Weight Loss
There is enough evidence from various study results to show that chia seeds as a weight loss solution are a reality.
The first quality in this seed that makes it an excellent weight loss food is the 40% of the total weight of this seed is fiber.
The fiber in this seed is quite unique as it quickly forms a thick gel which fills the stomach to make us feel full very fast.
This fiber also blocks the carbohydrate absorption to a great extent.
Every one of us is aware of the benefits of fiber in weight loss, and several studies in the past (particularly those conducted on glucomannan weight loss) have proved the positive impact of fiber on fast weight loss.[14,15]
The second major weight loss benefit from chia seed is the right amount of lean protein contained in this seed.
Lean protein makes our body healthy and acts as an appetite suppressant. We already discussed in above paragraphs the effect of protein in reducing the habit of binge eating, especially snacking on empty calorie foods.
Of course, chia seeds do not have any substance in it which will accelerate the fat burning.
The actual weight loss merit of this seed comes from the rich protein and fiber content in it. Thus taking few spoons of chia food may not produce significant weight loss.
It works for 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 significant health advantage of chia seed is its potentiality to promote healthy cholesterol and improve the health of the heart.
It promotes good metabolism as this seed contain a good amount of protein, fiber, and fatty acids.
These study results are not reliable as these studies were not randomized controlled trials exclusively done on chia seeds.
It must be remembered, this super food contributes to the above results when it is used as part of a balanced diet plan; and not that this seed alone can render all the benefits.
7. Chia Seeds Are Good For Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
This is good news for all Type II diabetics patients….chia seeds can prevent and reduce the effects of diabetes to a good bit.
As per one of the studies, the type-II diabetes patients who used 37 grams of chia seeds daily for 12 weeks were able to make real progress in reducing a particular inflammation which gives rise to hs-CRP factors in the blood.
This study also showed clear results in reduced blood pressure and a remarkable decrease in vWF factor in the blood.
The study results are a clear indication that Type-II diabetic persons could include chia seeds in their diet plan to get some relief from the adverse effects of this disease.
8. Chia Seeds Gives Instant Boost Of Energy
Chia seeds are a good energy booster.
If the legend is true, the Mayans and Aztecs had chia seeds as the energy diet to enhance their performance in wars and sports.
The few of the studies done on this seed also suggest that chia seeds quickly improve the energy levels.
In fact, this study showed that there is no differences between Gatorade and chia seeds as both of them produced a similar amount of stamina and energy.
More than the energy supply, the carb from this seed increases the stamina in endurance events.
This super food allows higher absorption of nutrients and lower absorption of sugar (empty calories).
You may be baffled on how this fiber-rich seed could supply ‘carb loads’ to increase energy and stamina.
In all presumption, the study results deviated from the actual characteristic nature of this food. Normally fiber rich foods are poor suppliers of carbohydrates.
9. Chia Seeds Contain Good Antioxidants
The best quality antioxidants that our body can receive are from foods than from we eat than any of the supplements.[25a]
Several studies, time and again, have stated that having sufficient amount of antioxidants in food can help in the prevention of cancers rising out of inflammation. If this is true, this seed food is good for preventing the occurrence of cancer.
Verities Of Chia Seed Recipes
If you are new to this seed food, you might be just wondering what the main Chia food recipes are.
Like the flax seeds and beans, it is very simple and easy to include this food in your diet.
There are number ways in which you can prepare this food, but most commonly this is used as a major ingredient in various preparations.
Either you can prepare it alone with necessary flavoring ingredients or add this as a part of other vegetable preparations.
In fact, this seed integrates well with almost all common food delicacies like pudding, porridges, juice, mixed vegetable dishes. You can even eat this seed row with no discomfort at all.
This seed also gels well with cereals, rice preparations, yogurt, and salads.
As chia seeds have unusual ability to absorb a lot of water and fat, it is good for thickening sauces and soups.
Chia Seeds Side Effects
There have been a number studies and researches done on the benefits and adverse effects of chia.
None of the studies have proved any chia seed side effects are actually existing.
This seed has been in use for centuries and currently Chia is being used by millions of people all over the world.
However, because of the ALA type of fatty acid found in chia seeds, there had been few conflicting study reports that suggested this food might cause prostate cancer. But this is still not a substantiated fact with conclusive evidence.[27,28]
As per the latest study reports, it is found that ALA does not increase the risk of developing prostate cancer, but it reduces the risk.
It is advisable that people who have prostate cancer avoid this food for the safety sake.
Any side effects of chia seeds are not been established to date. In fact, it is such a nutritiously rich food and similar to other seeds and grains… one cannot expect any adverse effects from this.
There is also few conflicting opinions regarding chia’s effect on triglycerides fat in the blood.
When some of the studies are suggesting that chia seeds reduce triglycerides level in the blood, some other studies are of the opinion that some verities of chia seeds increase the level of triglycerides.
However, Salba, the most commonly used verity of chia seed, does not increase triglyceride levels.
It is highly recommended that you include chia seed in your daily diet for the multiple health benefits it can bring to you.