The Main Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

The Main Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

You’ve probably heard a lot about chia seeds lately, since they’re on the list of the trendiest super-foods of the moment for a least two years and counting. Recipe hubs are adapting to this trend as well, slowly incorporating chia seeds in a growing number of classic recipes, and very few numbers of any given magazine focusing on health issues and advice are not mentioning chia seeds at one point or another. You may have given in to the trend yourself – even though you only really know how to consume the seeds on their own, with a bit of yogurt or pudding – but have wondered what exactly the main health benefits of chia seeds are and whether you’re having them the right way to be able to access these benefits. Since many people are in the same place at the moment – knowing chia seeds are healthy, but not much more about them other than that – we decided today’s post will cover this topic extensively.

Chia (the seeds being pictured above) is actually just the popular name of the salvia hispanica plant, a flowering species related to mint and originating from central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. There is also a plant known as golden chia (or salvia columbariae), but what is commercially known and marketed as a chia seed only comes from the salvia hispanica variety. The plant was cultivated by the Aztecs in the region some hundreds of years ago (in pre-Columbian times), and this ancient culture was, by all known evidence, aware of the wondrous health benefits of chia seeds. The present-day population of the region continues the Aztec legacy and there are plenty of Mexican, Guatemalan, Argentinian and Bolivian etc. recipes that feature chia seeds (either the black or the white varieties, in their whole or ground form). The origin of the word (chia), which, as you may have noticed, does not resemble the official name of the plant at all, is actually in the Nahuatl language, coming from the word chian, which means oily. The chia seeds indeed contain a high quantity of healthy oils, which contribute to their wonderful health properties.

The health benefits of chia seeds

Speaking of which, besides the numerous rumored health benefits of chia seeds, only a few of them have been scientifically proven. This is a short list of what you need to know.

  • As a highly concentrated super-food, chia seeds deliver loads of healthy nutrients with only a few calories. An ounce of chia seeds delivers a massive kick of magnesium, phosphorus, manganese (all at about 30% of the daily recommended intake), an useful amount of calcium (about 18% of the daily recommended intake), as well as lots of fiber (11 grams) and protein (4 grams) for only 137 calories. Actually, most of the calories from them are in fact fiber, which makes chia seeds very effective in weight loss efforts or gastro-intestinal problems. For an oily seed, that is an insanely small energetic value, with a powerful dosage of useful nutrients.
  • Chia seeds also contain high amounts of antioxidants, which science has proven to be not effective when taken within dietary supplements, but deemed highly beneficial when ingested within antioxidant rich foods. This high level of antioxidants present in chia seeds leads to a valuable cancer-preventing benefit, making them one of the most effective anti-cancer foods known by the nutrition world so far.
  • The high protein content in chia seeds makes them very beneficial to people on a vegetarian or vegan diet, or to people looking to lose weight (a high protein intake keeps the body healthy during weight loss struggles, and curbs the appetite as well).
  • One of the most famous of all the health benefits of chia seeds is its high level of omega-3 fatty acids: grams per gram, chia seeds have more of these than salmon and every other known source. There are sources that indicate that the type of omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds or any other plant source aren’t as useful to the body as the omega-3 fatty acids from animal sources though, so don’t rely only on chia seeds for this.
  • Chia seeds can improve the symptoms of type 2 diabetes dramatically. These benefits include reducing the blood sugar spikes after meals, as well as reducing several risky blood markers usually present in diabetic patients.

Potential side effects of chia seeds

Some research has suggested that patients that take anticoagulant drugs have an increased risk of bleeding if they also regularly consume chia seeds. The same risk is associated with the taking of aspirin, as the drug has similar anti-coagulant effects, and the combination with chia seeds may intensify the effect to dangerous levels. But other than that, chia seeds are perfectly safe and no other concern about side effects has been raised.

In conclusion, feel free to add a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds to your breakfast every day, and use them as egg replacement in any pie filling recipe (in combination with water or any other liquid, the seeds become jelly-like and act as a binding agent). The seeds are easy to add to basically anything – especially yogurt, because unlike flax seeds, they don’t need to be ground in order for the body to access their nutrients. If these seeds would have been a spice coveted for its health benefits – such as turmeric – you may have had more of a hard time thinking about foods you may include it in, but since chia seeds are actually a food of their own, you won’t have this kind of trouble. Also, do note that it’s more natural (and yummy) to use them in their food form rather than taking them as a Dr. Oz extract, but supplements are fine too if you won’t or can’t eat the bare seeds for some reason. Obtaining the wonderful health benefits of chia seeds is easy and enjoyable, whether you’re incorporating them in a diet strategy or simply for the sake of themselves.

The following two tabs change content below.
  • Share On Facebook
  • Share On Twitter
  • Pin it!
  • Share On Facebook
  • Share On Twitter
  • Pin it!

David

  • Share On Facebook
  • Share On Twitter
  • Pin it!
  • Share On Facebook
  • Share On Twitter
  • Pin it!

Latest posts by David (see all)

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This