Chia seeds are definitely our latest obsession and really the health benefits for chia seeds are quite simply numerous.
What are chia seeds?
Chia is an edible seed grown on the desert plant Salvia Hispanica, which has its origins in Mexico and Guatemala and dates back to ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures. The tiny, oval shaped seeds were a staple food for the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, and they named them “chia” which means strength in ancient Mayan.
So they must have some pretty impressive health benefits, right?
Yes, chia seeds can help control hunger whilst enhancing your diet with super-nutrients. They are an unprocessed food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds. They are one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, and are loaded with fiber, protein, omega 3 fatty acids and many micronutrients. In fact, one ounce (about 2 tablespoons) contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus numerous vitamins and minerals.
How can I incorporate them into my diet?
Their mild nutty flavor make them easy to add to food and beverages and we add chia seeds to pretty much anything. We prefer them whole for added crunch in smoothies but feel free to get the finely milled variety if you prefer. You can try adding them to cereal, sauces, vegetables and rice dishes, or mixing them in to drinks and baked goods. They can also be combined with water and made into a gel. We simply can’t get enough of these midget gems!
In their book, Roizen and Mehmet Oz, MD, recommend two daily doses, each consisting of 20 grams (a little less than 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds.
Drop My Belly Fat recommends…
The Key Health Benefits
Omega 3 fatty acids
Chia seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. The lipid profile of chia seeds is made up of 60% omega-3s, making them one of the richest plant-based sources of these fatty acids, more specifically, of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. The omega-3s in chia seeds can help reduce inflammation, enhance cognitive performance and even reduce high cholesterol.
Chia seeds are 40% fiber by weight, making them one of the best sources of fiber in the world. They contain 11 grams of fiber in just two tablespoons, which makes up one third of your recommended daily intake of fiber in just two tablespoons. Fiber is associated with reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol and regulating bowel function.
They are also 14% protein which is very high compared to most plants and more than most cereals and grains. Michael Roizen MD recommends chia seeds “as an alternative to processed grains like white bread because it is a much healthier whole grain that is great-tasting in foods like muffins.”
Chia seeds are such a good plant-based protein source because they contain high-quality protein with all of the essential amino acids. Since protein is the most weight loss friendly macronutrient in our diet, this is good news for our waistline! A high protein intake has been linked with increased satiety and reduced food intake.
Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants that can help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer. The antioxidant activity of chia seeds is higher than any whole food, even blueberries, sources say that they in fact, contain 40 times more antioxidants. Their high antioxidant profile also helps them have a longer shelf life, which can be up to two years without refrigeration.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 18 percent of the DRI for calcium, 35 percent for phosphorus, 24 percent for magnesium and about 50 percent for manganese. These nutrients help prevent hypertension and can also contribute to maintenance of a healthy weight. They are important for energy metabolism and a part of DNA synthesis.
Satiety is the feeling of being full and satisfied, which helps lower food cravings between meals. The combination of protein, fiber and the gelling action of chia seeds when mixed with liquids all contribute to their satiating effects.
Chia seeds contain no gluten or grains. Therefore, all of the nutritional benefits of chia seeds can be enjoyed on a gluten-free diet.
The outer layer of chia seeds swells when mixed with liquids, thus forming a gel. This enables them to be used to thicken sauces or replace eggs in recipes such as muffins. Using chia seeds in place of eggs can lower the cholesterol content of the food whilst increasing the nutrient density in foods and baked goods. To make the egg replacement, mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for 15 minutes.
Can be digested whole
Unlike flaxseeds, which are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and minerals, chia seeds do not need to be ground in order to obtain their nutrient or egg replacement benefits. This is important for us as we like that added crunch!
Can regulate cholesterol levels
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that chia seeds as a dietary fat source can lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels while increasing HDL or “good” cholesterol. The study also found that when substituting chia seeds for other fat sources, such as corn oil, the ALA was able to prevent high triglyceride levels and reduce central obesity.
Can regulate blood sugar
Chia seeds can play an important role in regulating insulin levels. They can reduce insulin resistance and decrease abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood
If you enjoyed learning about the Health Benefits for Chia Seeds, please let us know in the comments below.
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