7 Health benefits of chia seeds and how to eat this superfood
12/17/2021 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
7 Health benefits of chia seeds and how to eat this superfood

Chia seeds may be tiny, but they provide plenty of nutrients. Lauded as a superfood, they are rich in many key nutrients that support overall health, such as fiber, protein and healthy fats.

Chia seeds have only recently become popular, but they have been around for thousands of years. They come from a desert plant Salvia hispanica that was cultivated by the ancient Aztecs, who used to live in what is now modern-day Mexico.

Today, chia seeds are a staple in many health-conscious households. Thanks to their mild flavor and versatility, chia seeds are also easy to incorporate into any diet.

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Health benefits of chia seeds

Chia seeds are a nutrient powerhouse. Two tablespoons of the seeds provide the following nutrients:

  • Carbohydrates – 4 percent of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Healthy fats – 13 percent of the DV
  • Fiber – 40 percent of the DV
  • Protein – 9 percent of the DV
  • Calcium – 17 percent of the DV
  • Iron – 12 percent of the DV
  • Magnesium – 23 percent of the DV

Additionally, chia seeds contain modest amounts of other essential nutrients, including zinc, folate and vitamin C. Given their impressive nutrient profile, it’s no wonder chia seeds have been linked to the following benefits:

  1. Support healthy heart function – Chia seeds are high in soluble fiber, which attracts water and turns to gel during digestion. This type of fiber may also help lower “bad” cholesterol levels, thereby reducing your risk of developing heart disease. The omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds also keep your heart healthy by reducing inflammation.
  2. May protect against cancer – Chia seeds are one of the richest sources of an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). A study by French researchers linked high ALA levels to a reduced risk of breast cancer. Another study found that ALA can induce cell death in breast and cervical cancer cells.
  3. Regulate blood sugar – The soluble fiber in chia seeds helps slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, thereby improving blood sugar levels.
  4. Fortify your immune system – Chia seeds contain several antioxidants, such as vitamin C, lignin, flavonols and phenolic acids, that contribute to immune defense by reducing inflammation. They also boost immunity by helping immune cells like white blood cells function more effectively.
  5. Maintain healthy joints – The omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds help reduce inflammation in your joints and connective tissues. As such, chia seeds are great for keeping your joints healthy and flexible.
  6. Boost energy levels – Chia seeds give you stable energy levels, thanks to their amazing ratio of protein, healthy fats and fiber. The complex carbohydrates in chia seeds also take long to digest, meaning they won’t cause spikes or drops in your blood sugar that could affect your energy levels.
  7. Maintain healthy hair and skin – Chia seeds contain all nine essential amino acids, which your body uses to make collagen. Collagen is the protein that gives your hair and skin structure.

How to eat chia seeds

Chia seeds are very delicate and easy to digest whole, so there’s no need to grind them before eating. Their mild flavor makes them easy to sneak into a variety of dishes so you can enjoy their nutritional benefits.

Chia seeds are often used as a topping for yogurt, oatmeal and salads, but the sky’s the limit with these seeds. If chia seeds sound like something you’d like to incorporate into your diet, try adding them to the following:

  • Smoothies – Because of their mild flavor, chia seeds go well with any kind of smoothie. Just add a tablespoon or two of chia seeds to your favorite smoothie recipe and blend.
  • Salad dressings – Chia seeds go well with salad dressing ingredients, such as olive oil and honey. Add a tablespoon of chia seeds to your go-to salad dressing. Note that the more seeds you add, the thicker the dressing will be.
  • Batter or dough – Add texture to your pastries by mixing chia seeds into batter or dough. You can even replace one whole egg in a recipe with one tablespoon of chia seeds when baking.
  • Granola bars – Make your own healthy granola bars with chia seeds, nuts and dried fruits.
  • Coconut water or lemon juice – Instead of buying expensive chia drinks, make your own by adding a tablespoon or two of chia seeds to coconut water or fresh lemon juice. Let the juice thicken before stirring and drinking.
  • Homemade popsicles – Sneak chia seeds into homemade popsicles for a healthy, kid-friendly treat.
  • Meat, fish or poultry – Swap breadcrumbs for chia seeds when breading meat, fish or poultry.
  • Jams – Make your own jam by mixing chia seeds, honey and mashed fresh fruits.

Tiny, crunchy chia seeds are a superfood packed with fiber, protein, healthy fats and other important nutrients. Their versatility makes them a convenient staple food to use in your kitchen. If you haven’t already, try incorporating chia seeds into your diet today so you can enjoy the many benefits they offer.

Sources:

AncientGrains.com

FDC.NAL.USDA.gov

NaturalHealth365.com

Healthline.com

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