Chia seeds may be ridiculously tiny, but they’re also quite mighty. Originating from the desert-growing Salvia plant in Central America and found to be a common food source among the Aztecs and Mayans who lived centuries ago, chia seed benefits are touted by nutrition experts and health conscious individuals all over the world today.
While there are lots of different types of seeds out there that offer great nutritional value, chia seeds offer more of what some other seeds don’t. Here’s why you may want to serious consider adding this powerful little seed to your diet.
Chia Seeds Benefits
1) Omega Fatty Acids – Chia seeds are one of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids — providing about 9 grams of total fat. You get 5 grams of omega-3s for every two tablespoons of chia seeds, which is even more than what flax seeds have to offer. That healthy dose of omega-3s brings along a range of proven health benefits, including protection from heart disease, reduced inflammation, and cognitive enhancements.
2) Weight Loss – “Chia seeds are promoted as a weight loss aid and are believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, probably because of the fiber and omega-3 fatty acid content,” says nutritionist Shereen Lehman. At 138 calories per ounce (about two tablespoons), chia seeds have nearly 10 grams of fiber, which may help you feel fuller and satisfied for longer by slowing down the absorption process of sugars in the intestine. But in another study conducted in 2009, researchers found that chia seeds didn’t provide any weight loss benefits or reduction in disease risk in overweight adult participants. According to Ms. Lehman, “chia seeds can be part of a healthy diet, but there isn’t enough evidence to use them to treat or prevent any health conditions.”
3) Hydration – If you’ve ever mixed water with chia seeds, then you know just how powerful they are at soaking up liquid. Because they’re so high in soluble fiber, chia seeds can actually soak up about 10 times their weight in water, even in your stomach and when eaten raw. Mixing the seeds with water to create a gel-like substance can be used as a nutritious and hydrating drink for athletes.
4) Protein – In addition to that healthy helping of fiber, a 1-oz serving of chia seeds offers 4 grams of protein, making it an excellent source of plant-based protein.
5) Blood Sugar Levels – Despite the dense nutritional content chia seeds have, science hasn’t exactly proven much of what it can help treat. According to a 2007 study involving chia seeds, researchers looked at how its consumption might benefit diabetics. They found some positive impacts on cardiovascular disease risk and blood sugar levels, but the addition of the chia seeds to the diabetics’ diets led them to eat less carbohydrates and more fat, presenting the question of whether the health benefits were caused by the chia seeds or the reduction in carb consumption.