The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

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Chia seeds are touted as one of the most beneficial superfoods on the planet. This humble seed is packed with nutrients which promote health of both your body and brain.

 

These small black seeds are native to South America and come from the Salvia Hispanica plant which is related to mint. Hundreds of years ago, chia seeds were an important staple of the Mayan diet.  In fact, the word “chia” means “strength” in ancient Mayan.

 

Despite existing for such a long time, only recently have chia seeds been recognized as a modern day superfood. They are now consumed by millions of health conscious people worldwide.

 

Chia seeds are incredibly healthy and packed with many essential nutrients including (source):

 

  • Fiber
  • Protein
  • Omega-3s
  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2

As if that wasn’t good enough, chia seeds are incredibly low in calories and despite being considered a whole grain food they are gluten free. Plus they’re usually grown organically and are non GMO.

 

The Benefits of Chia Seeds

 

Rich in Antioxidants

 

One of the properties that allows chia seeds to be labelled a superfood is the fact that they’re so full of free radical fighting antioxidants (source)

 

According to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, boosting levels of antioxidants in the body from whole-food sources has positive effects on the body, much more so than with the use of antioxidant supplements (source).

 

Moreover, other research tells us that antioxidants such as those found in chia seeds fight against free radicals which can cause cellular damage which in turn contributes to aging and diseases like cancer (source).

 

Packed With Fiber

 

Fiber is a well known yet misunderstood nutrient which is incredibly important to one’s digestive health.

 

The kind of soluble fiber found in chia seeds promotes gut flora by passing through the digestive system unchanged until it reaches the good bacteria. They then digest it and use it as energy. This is known as a probiotic effect which promotes overall health and helps manage body weight (source). By promoting good bacteria in the gut, you can help prevent inflammation which can lead to obesity and a number of other diseases.

 

The fiber found in chia seeds can also aid weight management. This fiber absorbs 10 times its weight in water, becoming high in viscosity and creating a gel like substance in the stomach (source).

 

This causes your stomach to empty at a slower rate, taking longer to absorb nutrients. You feel fuller for longer and your appetite is reduced, therefore, promoting weight loss (source).

 

The fiber in chia seeds are also an excellent way to reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Currently, over 10% of the world’s population suffers with the condition, 2 our of 3 of which are women and 1 out of 3 being men (source).

 

According to a recent report, getting a daily fiber intake of up to 34 grams per day is a simple yet effective way to reduce the symptoms of IBS (source).

 

As only 1 ounce of chia seeds provides 11 grams of fiber, it’s plain to see how adding these little black seeds to your diet can be beneficial.

 

Quality Source of Protein

 

Chia seeds offer a very high content of protein, around 14% by weight which is higher than most plants.

 

High levels of protein in the diet promotes satiety and has been shown in studies to reduce appetite as well as cut obsessive thoughts about food by up to 60% (source). Making chia seeds an excellent addition to the diet of anyone looking to lose weight.

 

As one of the best plant based sources of protein, chia seeds are good for those who eat little or no animal products such as those who follow a vegan diet.

 

Filled with Omega 3s

 

In fact, chia seeds contain more omega 3 fatty acids gram for gram than wild salmon which is often thought of as one of the best sources of essential fatty acids.

 

However, the omega 3 found in chia seeds is mainly in the form of ALA (AlphaLinolenic Acid).  The body has to convert ALA into EPA and DHA, the active forms of omega 3 that offer the many health benefits omega 3s are renown for.

 

Unfortunately, humans are not particularly good at converting ALA into EPA and DHA which makes plant based sources inferior to animal sources such as fish (source).

 

However, as so many people fail to get enough omega 3s into their diets(source) chia seeds offer an excellent dietary addition, especially for those who consume no animal sources of omega 3.

Author: Helen Sanders

 

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