🌼 7 Enticing Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

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Chia seeds contain antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients play a role in supporting multiple body functions and systems.

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Chia seeds may be small, but they’re incredibly rich in nutrients. A staple in the ancient Aztec and Maya diets, these seeds have been touted for their health benefits for centuries.

The nutrients in chia seeds may promote heart health, support strong bones, and improve blood sugar management.

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What’s more, chia seeds are versatile and can be used in many recipes. Personally, I embrace their gel-like consistency by mixing them with liquid and making chia pudding.

Read also: Avoid these 4 habits if you want to be happy always 

Here are 7 health benefits of chia seeds, all supported by science.

1. Highly nutritious

Chia seeds are tiny black or white seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica L. They’re believed to be native to Central America.

Historically, Aztec and Mayan civilizations used the seeds in their diets, as well as for medicinal purposes, religious rituals, and cosmetics. Today, people all over the world enjoy chia seeds.

Ancient civilizations viewed chia seeds as highly nutritious — a belief that’s backed by modern science. In fact, just 1 ounce (oz), which is 28 grams (g) or 2 tablespoons (tbsp) of chia seeds, contains:

calories: 138

protein: 4.7 g

fat: 8.7 g

alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): 5 g

carbs: 11.9 g

fiber: 9.8 g

calcium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)

iron: 12% of the DV

magnesium: 23% of the DV

phosphorus: 20% of the DV

zinc: 12% of the DV

vitamin B1 (thiamine): 15% of the DV

vitamin B3 (niacin): 16% of the DV

This nutritional profile is particularly impressive, considering that it’s for just a single serving of about two tablespoons.

2. Loaded with antioxidants

Chia seeds are also an excellent source of antioxidants.

Antioxidants not only protect the sensitive fats in chia seeds from going rancid but also benefit human health by neutralizing reactive molecules known as free radicals, which can damage cell compounds if they build up in your body.

For example, free radical damage contributes to aging and diseases like cancer.

The specific antioxidants in chia seeds include chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol. These may all have protective effects on your heart and liver, as well as anticancer properties.

For example, chlorogenic acid may help lower blood pressure, while caffeic acid has anti-inflammatory effects.

3. May support weight loss

The fiber and protein in chia seeds may benefit those trying to lose weight.

One oz (28 g) of chia seeds has close to 10 g of dietary fiber. That means they’re a whopping 35% fiber by weight .

Although research on this topic is mixed, some studies suggest that eating fiber may play a role in preventing overweight and obesity.

Additionally, the protein in chia seeds could help reduce appetite and food intake.

One study in 24 participants found that eating 0.33 oz (7 g) or 0.5 oz (14 g) of chia seeds mixed with yogurt for breakfast increased feelings of fullness and reduced food intake in the short term compared with eating chia-free yogurt.

Even so, studies examining the effectiveness of chia seeds for weight loss have observed mixed results.

In an older study from 2009 involving 90 people with overweight, consuming 50 g of chia seed supplements per day for 12 weeks did not affect body weight or health markers like blood pressure and inflammation markers.

In contrast, a 6-month study involving 77 people with overweight or obesity and type 2 diabetes eating a reduced-calorie diet found that those who took chia seeds daily experienced significantly greater weight loss than those who received a placebo.

Though adding chia seeds to your diet is unlikely to cause weight loss on its own, it may be a useful addition to a balanced, nutritious diet if you’re trying to lose weight.

4. May lower your risk of heart disease

Given that chia seeds are high in fiber and omega-3s, consuming them may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Soluble fiber, the kind primarily found in chia seeds, can help lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood. In turn, this can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Consuming ALA, the omega-3 fatty acid in chia seeds, has also been linked to decreased heart disease risk.

Still, studies specifically examining the connection between chia seeds and heart health have had inconclusive results.

Some rat studies have shown that chia seeds can lower certain heart disease risk factors, including high triglyceride and oxidative stress levels.

A few human studies found that chia seed supplements significantly reduced blood pressure in people with hypertension, or high blood pressure, which is a strong risk factor for heart disease.

Overall, chia seeds may benefit heart health, but more research is needed.

5. Contain many important bone nutrients

Chia seeds are high in several nutrients that are important for bone health, including:

calcium

phosphorus

magnesium

Many observational studies suggest that getting enough of these nutrients is important for maintaining good bone mineral density, an indicator of bone strength.

In addition, ALA in chia seeds may play a role in bone health. Observational studies have found that consuming this nutrient could also be associated with increased bone mineral density.

Therefore, it’s possible that regularly eating chia seeds could help keep your bones strong.

One animal study found that rats who received chia seeds daily for about 13 months had increased bone mineral content compared with a control group. The authors concluded that ALA may have contributed to this benefit.

However, besides animal studies, a limited number of studies have explored this topic, specifically. Ultimately, more human research is needed.

6. May reduce blood sugar levels

Consuming chia seeds may help with blood sugar regulation, possibly due to their fiber content and other beneficial compounds.

People with diabetes may experience high blood sugar levels. Consistently high fasting blood sugar levels are associated with an increased risk of several complications, including heart disease.

Promisingly, animal studies have found that chia seeds may improve insulin sensitivity. This might help stabilize blood sugar levels after meals.

Research in humans is sparse, but some older studies have shown promising results.

In particular, older research from 2010 and 2013 suggests that eating bread containing chia seeds helps lower post-meal rises in blood sugar among healthy adults, compared with eating bread without chia seeds.

Nevertheless, more research is needed to learn more about the connection between these nutritious seeds and blood sugar regulation.

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7. Easy to incorporate into your diet

Chia seeds are incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet. They taste rather bland, so you can add them to pretty much anything.

You don’t need to grind, cook, or otherwise prepare them, making them a handy addition to recipes.

They can be eaten raw, soaked in juice, or added to oatmeal, pudding, smoothies, and baked goods. You can also sprinkle them on top of cereal, yogurt, vegetables, or rice dishes. Plus, they work wonders in homemade fritters as a binding agent.

Given their ability to absorb water and fat, you can use them to thicken sauces and as an egg substitute. They can also be mixed with water and turned into a gel.

The seeds appear to be well tolerated. Still, if you’re not used to eating a lot of fiber, you might experience digestive side effects like bloating or diarrhea if you eat too many seeds in one sitting.

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Contributed by Kris Gunnars

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