Top 10 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
There is a saying that” good things come in small packages “-which is applicable in case of chia seeds. They are minuscule seeds with remarkable nutritional value. They contain a plethora of essential nutrients with the add-on of containing fewer calories. The caloric content of chia seeds is just 137 per ounce. Chia seeds were extensively used by ancient civilizations like Mayans and Aztecs. In fact, the word chia is derived from the Mayan word meaning ‘strength’. As the name already suggests, it can serve the role of an energy booster and contains immense nutritional punch. Small and oval-shaped they are available in varying colors of brown, black and white. They are cultivated in several parts of the world like Mexico, Australia, and Ecuador. They are quite easy to be incorporated into one’s diet as they can be taken raw or added to any other food. Here are 10 ways Chia seeds benefits us:
Chia Seeds – Powerhouse of Nutrients
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds with a powerful nutritional punch. They were earlier considered as a dietary staple but in recent times they are being considered as a ‘superfood’. They contain a high amount of fiber and fewer calories which are very important in controlling one’s appetite and keeps him full. They generally contain 137 calories in one ounce of serving but with the fiber content subtracted the calorie content drops down to 101 calories per ounce. They also contain very low carbohydrate content which is only one gram per 28 grams.
A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains:
Fiber: 11 grams.
Protein: 4 grams.
Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2. Calorie for calorie they are one of the best sources of nutrients.
Chia Seeds – a Rich Anti-oxidant
Other than being a powerhouse of nutrients, chia seeds are also anti-oxidants rich. Chia seeds contain essential nutrients which act as a power booster. Being anti-oxidant in nature they can act as a neutralizer against inflammation, the growth of cancer cells, aging, and age-related cognitive impairment. Two teaspoons of chia seeds can suffice the daily manganese and calcium requirements of our body by 30% and 18% respectively. They also play an effective role in the prevention of skin-related aging as the anti-oxidant agents present in them can help eliminate free-radicals.
A Rich Source of Omega-3
Chia seeds are a rich source of omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered as “good fats” as they are essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system. They are known to contain more omega-3 fatty acids even compared to the salmon fish gram by gram which is considered as one of the primary sources of omega-3s. Though chia seeds are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, the main drawback is that the omega-3 fats contained in them are mostly ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid). ALA cannot be directly used by the body and needs to be converted into active forms like EPA and DHA. The human body is incapable of converting ALA into EPA and DHA. This is the primary purpose that fish and fish oil is generally recommended as a source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Maintains Cholesterol Levels
Another very important Chia seeds benefits are that it helps maintain the proper cholesterol content of the body. They are known to reduce excess LDL cholesterol level and significantly increase the HDL cholesterol level so as to maintain the right balance. It can also reduce inflammation effectively. If the LDL content in our blood increases they form plaque-like structures in the blood vessels reducing the blood flow significantly. As the blood flow is significantly decreased the heart has to pump more in order for the blood to reach its destination. This can lead to various cardiovascular diseases in the future including heart attack. They are also known to lower the triglyceride level which can be fatal for one’s health if not tackled at the right moment.
A Boon for Diabetic Patients
Being extremely rich in fiber, protein and omega-3 fats, chia seeds are considered a great diet for metabolic health. Since they are rich in fiber they impart a feeling of fullness and people tend to feel less hungry. In Type-2 diabetes, the solution to keep your blood sugars in check is to maintain the day to day diet in a strict manner. Even the slightest irregularity can spike up the blood sugar levels. In a recently conducted study, a group of 20 diabetic patients received a serving of 37grams of chia seeds for a period of twelve weeks. It was found that their blood sugar levels were seen to drop to a certain level. Diabetic patients are recommended to take light food every 2-3 hours in order to maintain the metabolism in a proper fashion. Chia seeds can not only serve the purpose of maintaining proper metabolic health but can also act as a power booster.
Chia seeds can perform the role of an energy booster. High in fiber and low in calories, it is the perfect dietary supplement for an individual involved in fitness and athletic routines. In a recently conducted study, six participants were served with carbohydrate-rich food either in the form of Gatorade or a mix of half Gatorade and half chia seeds. They were then involved on the treadmill for an hour followed by a 10km long run. It was found that the endurance level of all the six participants was more or less the same, even though half of them were provided with a combination of Gatorade and chia seeds. This study had proven the fact that though chia seeds are low in carbohydrates, they are capable of serving the purpose of an energy booster with intake of a low-calorie diet. The carbohydrate in chia seeds being mainly fiber can help accomplish the task even in the absence of sugar.
Getting over-weight is becoming a major cause of concern in recent times. People having a lazy and leisure lifestyle have to spend hours in the gym to get in shape. Through exercises and fitness programs can reduce the body weight, for best results it has to be accompanied with a proper diet routine as the body would be in requirement of energy and also nutrients which are responsible for proper maintenance of the body functions. The fiber Glucomannan present in chia seeds benefits the user by keeping the body full and reduces the appetite for food, indirectly resulting in an intake of low-calorie food. As calorie intake is reduced, it further helps the body in shedding off the extra bodyweight. Being an energy booster it maintains the energy level of the body ensuring sound health of an individual in the process.
Keep Your Bones Strong
As we grow old the calcium content in our bones decreases making them weaker. As the bones get weaker the mobility between joints also decreases resulting in the infectivity of movement. They contain several nutrients important for bone health which include calcium, phosphorous and magnesium. They can be a very reliable source of calcium for people who cannot take dairy products due to restriction from some other health ailment. Their calcium content is quite remarkable as they contain 18% of the RDA in a single ounce.
A Rich Source of Protein
The list of Chia seeds benefits seems to be long and varied. It is also a rich source of protein. They contain about 14% which is quite high considering it is a plant food. They contain the right balance of essential amino acids which is very beneficial for the body. In a study, it was seen that intake of chia seeds as a source of protein was successful in reducing the appetite for more food by 60%. Protein can also help in reduction of obsessive thoughts. Chia seeds are a good source of protein for vegetarians due to their high protein percentage.
Easy to Add to Diet
Last but not the least is the easiness with which we can incorporate a food product into our diet. As their taste is rather bland they can add to more or less anything. We can eat them raw, soaked in water, add them to porridge or baked products. They can also be sprinkled over cereals, yogurt, vegetables or rice. They can be used to thicken sauces due to their ability to absorb fats and water and used as a substitute for animal protein in some recipes. They can dramatically improve the nutritional value of food. 20 grams of chia seeds is recommended two times per days for health benefits.