Even if you’re not familiar with chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L), you might remember Chia Pets from years ago which sprouted vibrant green grass from terracotta pots shaped like whimsical characters. That’s right, your Chia Pet’s hair grew from chia seeds, which are now touted for their numerous health benefits.
Long before Chia Pets became popular gifts, the indigenous South American communities in which chia originated used the tiny seeds for everything from a staple in their diets to medicine. Today, these nutrient-dense seeds are soluble when moistened, making them perfect for replacing eggs in baking. They also make great additions to smoothies and yogurts and are sprinkled into salads, soups, and sauces.
Rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium, chia seeds pack a delicious, nutritious punch. Read on to find out what makes chia seeds so good for you.
1. They help strengthen the immune system
Chia seeds have notably high antioxidant vitamin content. Antioxidants are essential because they help prevent and stop damage to our cells. While it’s known that antioxidants are essential for good health, experts aren’t sure exactly which and at what dosage our bodies need certain antioxidant vitamins.
2. They keep you feeling full and suppress appetite
Not only do all bodies need protein to function, meals high in protein are known to help hungry bellies feel full and reduce cravings between meals. Fiber has similar health benefits while also helping your digestive system properly cleanse itself. Because chias are rich in both protein and fiber, they can give many dishes a healthy, satisfying boost.
3. They contain a long list of essential vitamins and minerals
The benefits of chia seeds include healthy levels of calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorous, among other important nutrients. In fact, a serving of chia seeds actually contains more calcium than many dairy products by weight.
4. They are bursting with healthy fats
Not all fats were created equal — and some of the healthiest fats are omega 3 fatty acids, which have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and which have been linked to a lowered risk of cancer due to protection from free radical damage. Chia seeds are a good source of these important fatty acids, containing around 5gms in a mere 1-ounce serving.
5. They are easy to digest
Are digestive problems an issue? Don’t worry! Chia seeds are easy on your digestive tract because they are extremely soluble in water. Chia seeds and soak up 10-12 times their own weight in water and form a gel-like substance that is easy for the body to break down. As a matter of fact, Chia seeds actually improve your gastrointestinal tract because they feed the healthy bacteria in your gut that are so important to digestion and overall health.
6. They support heart health
Heart disease is still the number one killer of Americans — which is why heart health is something that so many people worry about. A diet which includes chia seeds can help to prevent cardiac disease through such things as lowering bad LDL cholesterol, raising the health HDL cholesterol and also bringing down levels of triglycerides in the blood.
7. They contribute to weight loss plans
Although just adding chia seeds to your diet won’t help lose weight, if this addition is made to a lifestyle based on a healthy diet and regular exercise, it can make a difference in achieving a healthy body weight. This is partly because although it is low in calories (around 137 per ounce), it is also nutrient dense and packed with fiber, protein, healthy fat and plethora of vitamins and minerals.
8. Chia seeds Improve the health of people with type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has been called an epidemic in the United States because of the rising numbers of diabetics. However, studies have found that adding chia seeds to the diet can help to improve certain parameters that diabetics struggle with, including insulin resistance (or the inability of the body to use insulin to help transport sugars from the bloodstream to cells throughout the body which use it for energy).
The infographic below gives you a breakdown of the nutrients in a single serving of chia seeds.