You may have noticed these tiny little seed called "Chia seeds" on the shelves in grocery stores, or seen them used in a recipe that looks a bit too weird to your liking.
But what are chia seeds? What are their benefits? Why are chia seeds good for you?
Well, chia seeds are often referred to as a "superfood" that packs a punch of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Including them daily in your diet has numerous benefits. More on them below! But first, what are they and how do you include them into your diet?
Chia seeds come from the mint family's flowering plant called Salvia hispanica. It is native to Mexico and dates back to the Aztec and Mayan culture groups.
They were onto something! They knew this tiny seed had some significant advantages!
Chia seeds have a mild nutty flavor. It does not have a very strong or particular taste but rather takes on the flavors of the specific dish.
This makes it great, as you can use them in sweet and savory dishes - getting all the goodness without compromising on taste.
In raw form, they are crunchy and similar to a poppy seed.
When mixed with fluid, the soluble fiber in chia seeds absorbs water, making them gel-like and soft like the pearls of tapioca.
- Sprinkle raw chia seeds on salads, yogurt, or breakfast cereal for added crunch.
- Use them in your favorite homemade protein balls, energy bars or granola recipe.
- Mix them with your baked goods or dessert recipes such as muffins, breads and tarts for an extra nutrient boost.
- Add chia seeds to your morning smoothie to increase the fiber and protein content, keeping you fuller for longer.
- Make delicious chia puddings (probably the most famous way to use chia seeds!) There are tons of yummy recipes on the internet. They make the perfect guilt-free desserts and are perfect for breakfast!
Chia seeds contain antioxidants such as caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, kaempferol, and quercetin.
All big words, we know! But these all help reduce free radicals in the body, which cause oxidative stress and cell damage.
The caffeic acid in chia seeds helps to fight inflammation that causes diseases like cancer and other chronic diseases.
Chia seeds also contain ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a fatty omega-3 acid that balances the omega 3 to omega 6 ratio in the body, helping to reduce inflammation.
Chia seeds have a fantastic nutrient profile. A 1-ounce serving (28.35 grams or 2 Tablespoons) of chia seeds has: Protein: 4.7 grams Fat: 8.7 grams Carbohydrates: 12 grams Fiber: 9.8 grams Sugar: 0 grams 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
Chia seeds contain quercetin that belongs to a group of plant compounds called flavonoids. These flavonoids can reduce the risk of heart diseases.
Chia seeds are also high in fiber and omega-3s (ALA), which in turn can lower blood pressure and may reduce your risk of heart disease.
Due to the fiber content and rich nutrient profile, chia seeds can help regulate blood sugar levels and lower post-meal rises in blood sugar. More studies have to be done, but some evidence is showing the benefits on insulin sensitivity.
Increased fiber intake can help with weight loss, and chia seeds have fiber!
2 Tablespoons of chia seeds provides 11 grams of fiber, a significant portion of the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for women and men — 25 and 38 grams per day, respectively.
Because Chia seeds are so high in fiber, they keep you fuller for longer. The soluble fiber absorbs water which expands in your stomach increasing the feeling of fullness.
Chia seeds contain several bone strengthing nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
1 Ounce of chia seeds contains 18% of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of calcium. When compared gram for gram, it has more calcium than dairy.
The ALA in chia seeds may also contribute to good bone mineral density.
If you follow a plant-based or vegetarian diet, chia seeds are a great way to top up your protein intake. 2 Tablespoons of chia seeds will provide 4.7 grams of protein. A 140-pound person needs about 50 grams of protein a day.