Chia seeds, in either white or a dark brown and black color, were a staple ingredient in Mayan and Aztec diets for years. Today, owing to their nutritional profile and an array of health benefits, chia seeds have gained the reputation of a superfood.
Chia seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants, even more than fresh blueberries. They are also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.
They also contain a good amount of zinc, vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2. Moreover, they are a whole-grain food and are naturally gluten free.
Health experts recommend eating 20 grams or about 1½ tablespoons of chia seeds, twice a day.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of chia seeds.
1. Improves Digestion
The good amount of fiber (both soluble and insoluble) in chia seeds helps regulate bowel functions and improve the digestion process. The insoluble fiber helps food move smoothly through the digestive system. The soluble fiber keeps the colon hydrated and ensures easy digestion.
In addition, chia seeds aid in detoxification and elimination of harmful toxins from the body. These seeds also help prevent diverticulosis and diverticulitis.
Add 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to a glass of warm water and drink it 1 to 2 times daily to maintain a healthy digestive system.
2. Treats Anemia
Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to tissues, causing fatigue and many other health problems.
It can be caused due to a variety of reasons, most common being, iron deficiency. You can treat anemia with chia seeds that are nutritional powerhouses and packed with iron.
In addition to providing essential nutrients, chia seeds help cleanse the body and increse the red blood cell count.
Eating 2 tablespoons of chia seeds provides your body with 2.2 milligrams of iron, or 12 percent of the recommended daily allowance.
Another option is to make an anemia-fighting smoothie with 2 cups of spinach, 1 tablespoon of dandelion root powder, 2 beetroots, 1 banana, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds and 1 avocado. Blend all the ingredients thoroughly and drink it 1 or 2 times daily.
3. Keeps You Energized
Chia seeds are one of the best plant-based sources of complete protein. The strontium in these seeds helps assimilate protein and produce high energy. Moreover, the various vitamins and minerals work together to keep you energized throughout the day and increase your metabolism rate.
According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning, intake of chia seeds enhanced exercise performance for workouts that lasted 90 minutes in a similar manner as a sugar-laden sports drink. The main point is that chia seeds will benefit an athlete without the side effects of sugar.
4. Stabilizes Blood Sugar
According to a 2009 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, chia seeds can normalize insulin resistance.
The unique blend of both soluble and insoluble fiber and good quality protein in chia seeds slow down the rate at which complex carbohydrates are digested. This is helpful for people with Type 2 diabetes to keep the glucose in their blood at proper levels.
In addition, chia seeds can even help reduce fat and cholesterol in the blood, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.
To reduce insulin resistance and decrease sudden spikes of sugar in the blood, eat 1 to 2 tablespoons of chia seeds daily.
5. Suppresses Appetite
If you want to lose some weight, including chia seeds in your diet is a good idea. Being high in fiber, chia seeds turn into gel when exposed to water, increasing in size and weight. This helps keep your stomach full, thus suppressing your appetite.
Moreover, the protein in chia seeds also helps reduce appetite and food intake. A suppressed and controlled appetite can help a lot with your weight loss efforts. In addition, the protein and essential fatty acids in chia seeds help boost metabolism and promote lean muscle mass.
Sprinkle chia seeds on your salads, soups, yogurt, smoothies or any vegetable or mixed juice.
6. Slows Aging Process
Chia seeds are also an excellent anti-aging food. They help maintain beautiful skin, hair and nails. Being high in antioxidant properties, chia seeds help fight free radicals, which in turn helps prevent premature aging.
Moreover, the omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds help treat a number of skin issues like wrinkles and age spots, keep the skin moisturized and promote wound healing.
To maintain a youthful appearance as well as enhance your hair, skin and nail health, have some chia seeds daily.
7. Cures Mood Disorders
According to research done in 2010 at McGill University in Montreal, omega-3 fatty acids greatly help treat depression as well as other mood disorders.
As chia seeds contain a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids, they must be included in the diet of those suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, anxiety, stress and other types of mood and behavioral disorders.
Moreover, chia seeds support mental health by nourishing the brain and creating a sense of calm and focus. In addition, the B vitamins in chia seeds help the nervous system work more efficiently.
8. Backents Osteoporosis
Chia seeds are rich in calcium and several other nutrients like magnesium, protein and phosphorus that can prevent your bones from becoming fragile and even reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Moreover, the omega-3 essential fatty acids in these seeds help increase bone mineral density.
In addition, chia seeds can help treat joint aches, inflammation, arthritis and other bone-related health problems. They can also keep your teeth strong and healthy.
Eat 1 tablespoon of chia seeds daily to maintain bone and oral health, and prevent osteoporosis.
9. Improves Heart Health
Chia seeds are also good for your heart. Being a concentrated source of omega-3 as well as omega-6 fatty acids, chia seeds can lower harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing the “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
On top of that, chia seeds contain no cholesterol. These seeds also help reduce plaque buildup and lower high blood pressure. In addition, chia seeds have plenty of magnesium and potassium that help keep your heart healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Eat at least 1 tablespoon of chia seeds daily to improve your heart health.
10. Improves Brain Functioning
To help your brain function properly and improve your memory and concentration, chia seeds are very beneficial. Being high in omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds help keep the arteries to the brain clear of plaque. This in turn improves the communication between brain cells.
In addition, these essential fatty acids help make the cell membranes in the brain more flexible and nerve transmission more efficient, thus contributing to better brain functioning.
Simply sprinkle some chia seeds into yogurt, cereal and salad to keep your brain working properly.
Warning: Despite potential health benefits, chia seeds may cause some side effects if not consumed properly. Health experts advise not to consume these seeds in dry, raw form. Before eating the seeds, mix them in enough liquid to allow them to expand.
In addition, chia seeds may not be suitable for people who have problems swallowing, asthma, food allergies (especially to sesame seeds or mustard seeds), seasonal allergies or a constricted esophagus. Do not consume chia seeds in excess as it may increase the risk of prostate cancer.