Chia Seeds: The Health Uses and Benefits
The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Most people associate chia seeds with a fun little jingle that goes something like this: “Ch-ch-ch-chia!” Those same seeds that are responsible for growing fun plants are actually highly nutritious and one of the most potent superfoods on the planet. As a functional food, chia seeds can be used in a variety of healthy meals and snacks. The addition of chia seeds will boost the nutritional content in the foods that you make and enjoy. Although they are very tiny, chia seeds house a surprising amount of benefits! Your body will be saying cha-ching all the way to bank.
Previously an essential crop in Mexico and Guatemala, chia seeds come from the plant Salvia hispanica and are actually part of the mint family. They were cultivated for food thousands of years ago and were highly regarded in Mayan and Aztec cultures. Chia seeds were even offered to the gods in religious ceremonies!
Chia seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and can be eaten whole or ground. Because of their mild flavor, they pair well with both sweet and savory foods, and they add texture, increasing crunch and texture rather than flavor. Chia seeds are an essential ingredient in chia fresca, a hydrating beverage in which the seeds are mixed into fresh lemon or lime juice with a sweetener. This drink is extremely popular in Mexico and Central America.
What are the health benefits of chia seeds?
Here’s a hint about the benefits of chia seeds: “chia" is an ancient Mayan word meaning "strength." Chia seeds contain high amounts of two omega-3 fatty acids: linoleic and alpha-linolenic (ALA) fatty acids. In fact, around sixty percent of the oil in chia seeds is from these two acids. Research suggests that the nutrients in chia seeds have the ability to promote cardiovascular health, antioxidant support, and improved mood.
How nutritious are chia seeds?
Besides the nutritional benefits from omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds contain other essential nutrients in a small, two-tablespoon serving:
Fiber to improve digestion
Protein to build and repair tissue
Fat for energy and cell growth
Calcium for bone health
Manganese for bone and blood support
Magnesium to support nerve health, bone health and other functions
Phosphorus to build bones
They also contain some zinc, niacin, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin B2.
With such a large nutritional punch in such a small serving, chia seeds make it easy to get the daily vitamins and minerals that are so important to maintaining your best health.
Do chia seeds help reduce weight?
Chia seeds made a big comeback as a superfood because of their association with weight loss. It isn’t a straight “yes” or “no” answer. Let’s break it down:
Chia seeds contain fiber, which assists with healthy digestion. Most Americans do not consume enough fiber, which is a substance that can help support weight loss goals.
Fiber also keeps you full longer, helping to avoid the temptation to overeat.
Chia seeds expand in water (up to 27 times their weight), which also helps you stay full longer.
Just eating chia seeds will not make you lose weight, but they can help you improve your body composition in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise program.
Chia seeds as an anti-inflammatory
Inflammation is being studied by researchers as one of the main causes of modern day diseases and health challenges. The omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds are champions in providing anti-inflammatory properties, as evidenced by clinical studies. Omega-3 fatty acids are typically consumed through seafood; therefore, chia seeds are an excellent choice for vegans, vegetarians, and people who do not like fish.
Chia seeds as an antioxidant
Antioxidants are essential to fighting free radicals in the body. These compounds fight chain reactions in cells that occur from damaging elements. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with beneficial antioxidants, but you can also receive antioxidant support from chia seeds. If you don't eat a lot of fruit or vegetables, this is good news! These antioxidants also support anti- inflammatory response and cell health and protection, and they promote radiant skin. Chia seeds help the body inside and out!
Chia seeds as an omega-3 source
Chia seeds are rich in linoleic and alpha-linolenic (ALA) fatty acids. Both of these nutrients are essential fatty acids that are necessary to support good health and cannot be produced by the human body. Because they must be acquired through diet, chia seeds are an easy way to get your servings of omega-3 fatty acids. You don’t have to eat a lot, either: one to two tablespoons per day (try it in a smoothie, baked goods, or chia seed pudding) is all that you have to consume.
Chia seeds and heart health
Many of the nutrients in chia seeds support heart health. An animal study done by researchers at the University of Arizona suggests that consuming chia seeds may increase HDL (your good cholesterol levels) but may lower total cholesterol levels. The presence of omega-3 fatty acids help protect and nourish the heart, making chia seeds a heart healthy food!
Chia seeds and blood sugar
High blood sugar is a common symptom in many chronic diseases, including Type-2 diabetes. Sometimes the foods that we eat cause a temporary spike in blood sugar levels. (Scientific studies)[https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20087375] suggest that chia seeds have some ability to stabilize blood sugar after eating. Chia seeds may help slow down digestion. In general, eating nutritious foods compared to heavily processed ones will help the body maintain blood sugar levels already within a normal range.
Chia seeds for skin health
The skin is the largest organ in the body and as such it reveal many clues about our internal health. Clear and radiant skin is just one indication as to the story unfolding inside the body. Clean & clear skin relies on the body taking in enough hydration and essential nutrients to stay smooth. The oil inside chia seeds has abundant beauty benefits. These oils are calming and packed with antioxidants that help restore red, irritated skin and may even smooth the appearance of wrinkles. Chia oil can be used as a moisturizer to restore the skin’s natural moisture barrier. The antioxidants in chia seeds also help nourish skin from the inside out.
What’s the best way to eat chia seeds?
The Cleveland Clinic reports that two of the best vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flax seeds and chia seeds. Flax seed is even richer in ALA than chia and also supports anti-inflammatory response and heart health. When combined, chia and flax seeds are a nutritional powerhouse for the body. Flax seed is also an excellent source of fiber, protective lignans, protein, and the essential nutrient potassium. Flax seeds also contribute to cardiovascular health. Together, this is an unbeatable mix!
Care/of Chia-Flax makes it easy to get the benefits of both seeds in one convenient packet. Our cold-milled, organic chia seeds and organic flax seeds deliver the highest quantity of omega-fatty acids and are a high-fiber pair. Sourced from the USA, Canada, and Argentina, they are free of dairy, soy, and synthetic ingredients. This power duo also contributes to digestive health, a key player in healthy bowel movements. This nutrient-dense, seed-based pack can be sprinkled into yogurt, into smoothies, or even a glass of juice. We take the guesswork out of flax and chia benefits and make it easy to get essential fatty acids and fiber into your diet to support your overall well-being. You’ll be singing ch-ch-ch-chia to yourself all day.