Chia seeds’ benefits and weight loss effects have become a popular subject of discussion among nutritionists today.
The people of Mexico and Guatemala have used this seed for centuries.
It is a little black edible seed of a flowering plant in the mint family of plants called Salvia hispanica.
Aztec and Mayan warriors used to eat the black seeds of chia as an energy source. The name ‘chia’ actually means “strength.”
In the 1990s, a group of American agricultural scientists and nutritionists did several studies that showed how eating the seed is good for your health.
As of now, millions of people all over the world have adopted this seed as a regular food item. It is commercially cultivated in Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, and Australia.
One serving of dried chia seeds is about 2.75 tablespoons (1 ounce or 28 grams).
In this article, let me present nine major health benefits of chia seeds. Let us also see its effectiveness for weight loss, popular chia recipes, and side effects.
9 Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a nutrient-dense superfood that offers numerous health benefits. They are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.
They also contain high levels of antioxidants, which can help protect against damage caused by free radicals.
Additionally, they are a great source of calcium, magnesium, zinc, and other important vitamins and minerals.
Studies have found that eating chia seeds can help reduce inflammation and cholesterol levels in the body, as well as improve blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of stroke.
Furthermore, they have been linked to improved digestion and gut health due to their high fiber content.
Here are the 9 major chia seeds benefits for health:
1. Rich source of vitamins and minerals
The chia seed is high in several nutrients that are very beneficial for our health.
Chia seeds pack essential minerals like phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which are especially beneficial for bone health.
An ounce of seed has 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance of phosphorus and 23 percent of the allowance of magnesium.
Also, they have good nutritional value because of the good quantity of vitamins B1, B2, and B3, and dietary fiber found in them.
Per serving of chia seed contains less than 140 calories and 10 grams of fiber.
The calories in this seed are bundled with fiber, reducing the usable calories to a much lower percentage than those present.
This is an organically grown “whole grain” food with hardly any gluten.
Because of its excellent nutritional benefits, this seed is better than other healthy ‘whole grain’ foods like brown rice and oats.
2. Contain good quality protein
Chia seeds are a rich source of several important nutrients found in both cereals and grains.
You will get more natural protein in this seed than in other seeds and grains. Approximately 15% of the total weight of this seed is protein. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain about 7 grams of protein.
Our body easily absorbs the protein in it because of the essential amino acids that are sufficiently present in these seeds.
Organic protein is good for health. You can eat lean protein without fear of weight gain or cholesterol issues.
Protein benefits include:
- improving your health.
- helping you suppress your appetite.
- stopping craving high-calorie foods.
It is found that people who take sufficient protein have less of a craving for sugary foods, and they do not have the urge to eat snacks in between.
Vegetarians, who have few options for organic proteins, can meet their protein needs by eating this seed regularly.
3. Contains healthy carbohydrates
A healthy amount of carbohydrates is important for us to meet the body’s daily calorie requirements.
Chia seed is a good source of non-gluten carbohydrates. Nearly 45% of the actual weight of the seed is carbohydrates.
But the high carbohydrate content in this seed will be partially absorbed by the body as over 75% of it is blended with fiber, which will not pass the carbs into the bloodstream.
An ounce of chia seed provides about 10 grams of dietary fiber that benefits human health.
The seeds are high in fiber and protein. The fiber in the seeds turns into a thick gel when it comes in contact with plenty of water in the stomach, and it blocks the carbohydrates.
Chia seeds fall into the low-carb food category because of their high fiber content.
People on a low-carb diet can comfortably eat this seed with no adverse effects from its carbs.
The fiber in it not only blocks the carbohydrates but also makes us feel satisfied faster.
More than one-third of the actual weight of the seed is fiber. No wonder this seed is a superfood for digestive health.
4. Includes essential fatty acids
Fatty acids are extremely important nutrients for the body because they regulate many bodily functions.
They form part of the cell membrane and play a crucial role in regulating blood pressure and inflammatory responses.
Whole chia seeds include a good bit of omega-3 fatty acids in them. If you go by the weight, this seed has more Omega-3s than sea foods like salmon and tuna.
But there is a little drawback with Omega-3 fatty acids obtained from plant sources like chia seeds and flax seeds because they are mostly in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) form.
The human body does not have an inbuilt mechanism for converting ALA to EPA and DHA.
However, chia seeds can increase the EPA fatty acid levels in the blood, which is good for the body.
Of course, DHA is a more important omega-3 fatty acid for the body. So you need to look for it in sea foods or DAH supplements.
5. Promotes weight loss
Various studies have shown that chia seeds as a weight loss solution is productive.
Also, they don’t make you gain weight as long as you don’t eat too many chia seeds.
The first quality of this seed that makes it a good weight loss food is that 40% of the total weight of this seed is fiber.
The fiber in this seed is unique, as it quickly forms a thick gel that fills the stomach and keeps you fuller for longer.
This fiber also blocks 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.
The second major weight loss benefit of chia seed is the good amount of lean protein contained in this seed.
Lean protein makes our body healthy and acts as an appetite suppressant. Eating lean protein reduces the habit of binge eating, especially snacking on empty-calorie foods.
Of course, consuming chia seeds do not supply any substance that will accelerate fat burning.
Experiments found that chia seeds help lose weight to a minimal level. Thus, taking a few spoons of chia seeds may not produce significant weight loss.
6. Lower the risk of heart disease
Another big health advantage of chia seeds is their potential to promote healthy cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health.
It promotes good metabolism as this seed contains a good amount of protein, fiber, and fatty acids.
Some studies have indicated the benefits of a chia diet in lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol levels in the blood.
This study’s results are not reliable as these studies were not randomized controlled trials exclusively done on chia seeds.
Note that chia seed may help heart health when it is used as part of a balanced diet plan; and that it alone cannot render all the benefits.
7. Prevents type 2 diabetes
This is good news for all Type II diabetic patients: chia seeds can prevent and reduce the effects of diabetes by quite a bit.
Per one of the studies, type II diabetes patients who used 37 grams of chia seeds daily for 12 weeks could make good progress in reducing a particular inflammation that gives rise to hs-CRP factors in the blood.
This study also showed clear results in reduced blood pressure and a remarkable decrease in the vWF factor in the blood.
Studies show that fiber may help to reduce insulin resistance and improve blood sugar levels, reducing your risk of metabolic syndrome.
The study results indicate that people with type II diabetes could include chia seeds in their diet plan to get some relief from the adverse effects of this disease.
As we have seen previously, the high fibrous content in this seed also acts as a block to limit sugar and carbohydrate absorption.
8. Instantly boosts energy
Adding chia seeds to your diet can be a good energy booster.
If the legend is true, the Mayans and Aztecs had chia seeds as part of their energy diet to enhance their performance in war and sports.
The few studies on this seed also suggest that chia seeds quickly improve energy levels.
This study showed no differences between Gatorade and chia seeds, as both produce similar amounts of stamina and energy.
More than the energy supply, the carbs in this seed increase stamina in endurance events.
This superfood allows for higher absorption of nutrients and lower absorption of sugar (empty calories).
You may need clarification about how this fiber-rich seed could supply ‘carb loads’ to increase energy and stamina.
In all probability, the study results deviated from the actual characteristic nature of this food. Normally, fiber-rich foods are poor sources of carbohydrates.
9. Contains powerful antioxidants
Antioxidants help fight oxidation, a usual chemical process that keeps regularly occurring in our body and leads to forming of free radicals and inflammation.
Chia seeds contain a significant amount of antioxidant properties.
The highest quality antioxidants our bodies can receive come from the foods we eat, not supplements.
Several studies, time and again, have stated that having a 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 cancer.
Including this superfood in your daily diet plan is good as it has so many benefits for health and immunity.
Common Chia Seed Recipes
You might already be familiar with chia seed pudding or bread containing chia seeds mixed with whole-grain wheat. If you are new to this seed food, you might wonder what the main chia seed recipes are.
It is very simple and easy to include this food in your diet, like flaxseeds and beans.
You can prepare this food in many ways, but most commonly, it is used as a major ingredient in various preparations, especially in chia pudding, smoothies, and cookies.
You can prepare it with the necessary flavoring ingredients or incorporate it into other vegetable preparations. Two tablespoons of whole or ground chia seeds will go well with any type of baked goods.
This seed integrates well with almost all common food delicacies, like pudding, porridge, juice, and mixed vegetable dishes. You can even eat this seed row with no discomfort at all.
This seed also gels with cereals, rice preparations, yogurt, and salads.
As chia seeds have an unusual ability to absorb water and fat, they are good for thickening sauces and soups. Always soak the seeds in water before use.
Chia Seed Side Effects
A number of studies and research projects have been done on the benefits and adverse effects of chia.
None of the studies has proved any chia seed side effects exist.
This seed has been used for centuries, and currently, chia is used by millions of people worldwide.
However, a few conflicting study reports suggest that this food may cause prostate cancer due to the ALA type of fatty acid found in chia seeds. But this is still not a substantiated fact with conclusive evidence.
According to the most recent research, ALA does not increase the risk of developing prostate cancer but rather lowers it.
It is advisable that people who have prostate cancer avoid this food for their safety.
Any side effects of chia seeds have not been established to date. It is a nutritious food, similar to other seeds and grains. One cannot expect any adverse effects from this.
There are also a few conflicting opinions regarding chia’s effect on triglycerides and fat in the blood.
Some studies claim that chia seeds lower triglyceride levels in the blood, while others claim that some chia seed varieties raise triglyceride levels.
However, Salba, the most commonly used chia seed, does not increase triglyceride levels.
It is highly recommended that you include chia seeds in your daily diet for the multiple health benefits they can bring you.
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