Chia seeds are among some of the healthiest foods in the world and be sure, you will know some of the most important chia seeds health benefits after reading this article. Why is it healthy? We’ll get to that after a short lesson about the origin of this interesting plant. So, chia, which is also known as Salvia hispanica, is a flowering plant in the mint family. It is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala, but its seeds are used all over the world as a source of food and nutritious drinks. Chia, which is derived from “chian”, means “oily”.
It is said that, back in the day, chia seeds used to represent an important food source for the Aztecs and the Mayans. In Mayan, chia means “strength”. Well, I don’t know if it is true or not, but you should try a healthy smoothie with chia seeds in it and see for yourself if there is or not a source of energy hidden in that drink.
Chia grows annually and has purple or white flowers, which and is produced in numerous clusters in a spike at the end of each stem. Commercially, it is grown for its seeds, which today, represent a healthy source of food and drinks, filled with numerous health benefits. These seeds are oval and have the diameter of approximately 1 mm. They are incredibly small and colored in brown, black, white and gray.
Besides the fact that when getting soaked these seeds develop a gel-like coat, it’s this texture that allows them to be successfully used when making nutritious smoothies and drinks. You just have to wait a few minutes so they soak to their full capacity.
Let’s take a look at some of the main chia seeds health benefits and decide whether is a good thing or not to integrate them in our daily breakfasts or smoothies, shall we?
Chia Seeds Health Benefits
You may be thinking how can some seeds this small be loaded with nutritious value. Funny thing, size does not matter. Today, chia seeds have become a contemporary superfood and have started to be consumed by many health conscious people. The chia seeds are whole grain food which means they do not contain gluten.
Interested in what an ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contain and what does this have to do with chia seeds health benefits? Take a look!
- Proteins: 4-5 grams
- Fibers: 10-11 grams
- Fats: 8-9 grams
- Carbohydrates: 12 grams
- Calcium: 18% of the RDA
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDA
- Manganese: 30% of the RDA
- Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA
- + Zinc, Iron, Potassium, Copper and Vitamins B1, B2, B3
The chia seeds health benefits come from their sources of protein, healthy fats, fibers, minerals and antioxidants which protect sensitive fats. They have a high concentration of Omega 3, about 60%, which is more than the salmon has. Studies show that chia seeds increase the level of alpha-linolenic acid or ALA which can lead to a number of health benefits:
- anti-inflammatory properties
- liver-protective properties
- lowers blood pressure
- lowers heart disease
- supports a healthy level of cholesterol (HDL)
- protects against arthritis
- protects against cancer and autoimmune diseases
- may reduce obesity
- helps losing weight
As you probably guessed, chia seeds have been linked to improvements regarding heart disease, diabetes and other diseases due to the fact that they are loaded with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, Omega 3. They can easily be incorporated into a healthy diet and they also taste good. Therefore, chia seeds have been often marketed as “superfood”.
How To Incorporate Chia Seeds In Your Diet
It’s very easy to integrate chia seeds into your diet and, trust me, it isn’t time-consuming. The great thing about these seeds is that they can be eaten raw, like many others, and you can add them to your yogurt or almond/oat milk together with cereals. Also, chia seeds can be cooked and added to bread or muffins or other cookies. This is how I like to eat them for breakfast.
Other ways to benefit from these amazing seeds:
- Chia pudding
How? Mix 1/3 cup of chia seeds with 1 cup of coconut/almond/oat/rice milk. Add honey if you like it sweet and some cinnamon and mix them well. Put the mix into the fridge and leave it overnight, so you can eat it in the morning. For topping, you can add sliced raw almonds. All done.
- Chia spread
How? Try to make your own jam, at home, by mixing chia seeds, berries and honey/stevia.
- Chia topping
How? Easy. You can add them on every meal you feel like, but if you want them to be crunchy, add them just before you eat them, since they soak up pretty fast.
- Chia bread
How? Blend chia seeds with other seeds (sunflower, flaxseeds, etc.) and maybe nuts and make your very own bread, at home, gluten-free.
- Chia for your body
How? Chia seeds can also be used as an exfoliant pretty well, however, I suggest eating them. But a face mask can be helpfull from now and then. Here is a simple recipe:
- mix a bit of coconut oil with lemon juice and chia seeds and store it in your fridge (it can be used for a few days only)
- apply on your face and scrub in a circular way
- let the mask stay a couple of mintes on your face
- wash gently
- Chia shake
How? If you like drinking energy shakes or smoothies after your gym session, be sure to add chia seeds for extra energy.
All these chia seeds health benefits must be further tested because nothing is for sure and not all tests have the same result. This takes time and money. This doesn’t mean that chia seeds are bad for our health. I completely believe they are a great source of nutritional value and I will continue to use them in the very best way I can.
However, specialists say that people who know to have problems swallowing food or dysphagia, as it is called, should be careful and should try to avoid eating raw chia seeds since they can block the esophagus and create problems after drinking water (they soak up and are difficult to be swollen). So, use them with caution. Other than that, there are no risks, so enjoy your chia seeds!