Normally when you hear the word “chia,” the first thing that probably pops to mind is the Chia Pet that we all grew up with. While those figurines that sprout fun looking chia have been fun for the past three or so decades, there are actually benefits that you can get from eating the seeds of the chia plant. While their benefits are fairly newfounded, chia seeds have been cultivated for hundreds of years, dating back to Aztec times.
You are probably eating a lot of chia seeds these days without knowing it, as they are commonly found in energy bars, smoothies and other healthy food items. While chia seeds are most commonly consumed in Latin America, they have become more popular in other parts of the world thanks to their benefits. What types of benefits do chia seeds have? Here are just some that have been proven to help your everyday life.
Packed with Nutrients
Are you one of those people that is looking for a quick protein boost, or looking to increase the amount of healthy fats that you are taking in? Chia seeds make for a quick and easy way to get both of those needs, as one ounce has about 10 percent of your daily recommended protein and 7.1 grams of unsaturated fat. Above all else, though, chia seeds are filled to the brim with fiber. Just one serving contains more than 40 percent of the daily recommendation for dietary fiber.
While there aren’t any beneficial vitamins to be found in chia seeds, there are plenty of other great nutrients. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are prevalent, as well as manganese, phosphorus and zinc. There is also a healthy amount of calcium, allowing you to get up to 20 percent of your daily need. That’s a lot of great stuff to come from just one ounce of chia seeds, especially with only about 12 grams of carbs.
You’ve seen all of the great nutrients found in chia seeds, but how many calories is all of that going to cost you? It might surprise you to learn that there aren’t even 140 calories in one ounce, making it one of the best foods that you could possibly find in terms of protein, fiber and calcium without many of the calories.
Being able to contain yourself to that low amount of calories for a snack is great, and it also helps you in other areas for weight loss. All of that fiber is going to help you feel full for much longer. You’ll also be able to sleep better and have more energy, making the ability to get through those long workouts much easier. In fact, chia seeds have been found to be as beneficial before a workout as many sports drinks.
Protein also plays an important part of weight loss. As an easy source of protein, chia seeds can help you build muscle, which in turn will burn fat. Though there hasn’t been much success in terms of weight loss from people that simply added chia seeds to their normal diet, those that have replaced other snacks with chia seeds have found success.
Controlling your blood sugar is not only a great way to help manage your weight, but there are plenty of other benefits. Many of your organs are affected by blood sugar, and managing it will ensure that you do not get diabetes. Early studies have shown that a regular intake of chia seeds not only helps to prevent type-2 diabetes, but can also help those that already have been diagnosed.
Chia seeds are great for controlling blood sugar thanks to the high fiber and Omega-3 fatty acid content. Research is ongoing about just how beneficial chia seeds can be long term, but the early returns look good. With a low glycemic index, it’s hard to imagine that chia seeds could possibly do any harm to your blood sugar.
Good to the Bone
Bone health is something that we usually don’t think about until it’s unfortunately too late. Make sure to tackle bone health before it becomes a problem, which is something that chia seeds can assist with. Chia seeds have that surprisingly high amount of calcium that we referred to earlier, which is helpful for your bones.
Your chances of osteoporosis drastically decrease with a regular calcium intake. Some prefer vitamins with calcium, though you can get it from chia seeds if you prefer a good snack that also contains bone-friendly phosphorus. That increased amount of calcium also helps make your teeth stronger, preventing many oral diseases.
Listen to Your Heart
We might not focus on bone health, but many of us that have never even had heart problems before still like to eat heart healthy. Diets that contain chia seeds have been shown to increase heart health, and will help you lower the bad (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides and even inflammation in your body while raising your good (HDL) cholesterol.
Many participants in a study about the effectiveness of chia seeds have also seen a good maintenance in their blood pressure. Protein and Omega-3 fatty acids are very good for your heart health, and will help you to increase the blood flow in your body. With the very low amount of saturated fats, that’s just another bonus to count on.
Summing it Up
We have been learning a lot about chia seeds in recent years, and the early results are very encouraging. There are still more conclusions to be made about the effects of chia seeds on your health, but we fortunately have not seen any negatives. Even many of the healthy foods and supplements that we have taken a look at will have negative effects such as interactions with medication, but that’s not the case with chia seeds.
The best part is that you don’t have to eat them plain, as there are plenty of different ways to consume chia seeds. Adding them to smoothies and yogurt have been the most popular ways, though it’s up to your imagination. If you want to eat them by the handful, there’s no problem with that, just make sure not to add sugar or anything unhealthy for the taste, and you’ll be good to go!