Chia seeds are tiny black seeds of the chia plant (Salvia hispanica). Native to Mexico and Guatemala, they were a staple food for the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. In fact, chia is the ancient Mayan word for strength. Moreover, people often refer to them as a superfood or functional food. Functional foods are touted to offer benefits beyond their nutritional value, such as lowering cholesterol or improving gut health. Not only listed as such, chia seeds are also used as a functional ingredient, added to less nutritious items like baked pastries and snacks, to improve their appeal to health. Health claims about chia seeds include reducing appetite and weight, and improving blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes. Below we have highlighted 5 health benefits of chia seeds.
Chia Seeds are Highly Nutritious
Despite their tiny size, chia seeds are highly nutritious. They are packed with fibre, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and various micronutrients. One ounce of chia seeds provides a whopping 9.8 grams of fibre, going a long way toward the recommended 25 to 38 grams per day for adults age 50 or younger or 21 to 30 grams per day for adults over age 50. Chia seeds do not get as much attention for their calcium content, but they are a rich source.
One ounce supplies about 180 milligrams, or 18 percent of the recommended daily allowance. This is about equal to the amount you get from 8 ounces of milk. One ounce of chia seeds provides over 2 milligrams of iron, which allows oxygen-rich blood to flow through your body and to your brain. B-vitamins play important roles in metabolism and cardiovascular health. Chia seeds provide numerous B-vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin and niacin.
About 75% of the fats in chia seeds consist of the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), while about 20% consist of omega-6 fatty acids. This nutritional profile is particularly impressive considering that it is for just a single serving of approximately two tablespoons.
Chia Seeds are Rich in Antioxidants
Chia seeds are a good source of antioxidants. Antioxidants benefit human health by neutralizing reactive molecules known as free radicals, which can damage cell compounds if they build up in your body. The specific antioxidants in chia seeds include chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol. Chlorogenic acid lowers blood pressure. Caffeic acid helps fight inflammation in your body. Quercetin reduces the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain forms of cancer. Kaempferol has been associated with a decreased risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
Chia Seeds are Beneficial to the People Who Want to Lose Weight
The fibre and protein in chia seeds may benefit those trying to lose weight. Chia seeds has soluble fibre. Soluble fibre absorbs water, becomes gel-like, and expands in your stomach to slow your digestion and help you feel full after a meal. Additionally, the proteins reduce appetite and food intake.
Chia Seeds May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
Chia seeds are rich in nutrients that may reduce your risk of heart diseases. First, chia seeds are rich in soluble fibre. Soluble fibre can help lower the total bad cholesterol in your blood and in the process reducing your risk of heart diseases. Secondly, chia seeds are rich in omega-3. Omega-3, which reduces the risk of a heart disease.
Chia Seeds May Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, fibre, and magnesium. All of these may help reduce diabetes and control blood sugar level. Soluble fibre can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels.
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