Chia seeds come from Salvia hispanica, a plant that grows in the desert and is a part of the mint family. At first glance, these tiny seeds may not look like much; however, they’ve been getting a lot of attention lately. Why? – Because they are a rich source of several vital nutrients, including omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium.
Recent research indicates that adding chia seeds to your diet could be beneficial for a number of reasons. From reducing cholesterol levels to improving cardiovascular health, chia seeds may be small, but they can potentially pack a big punch for your health. In fact, some health experts claim that they are among the healthiest foods on the planet.
Chia seeds can be cooked or they can be consumed raw. They make a great topping on salads, oatmeal, yogurt, veggies and rice. They can be added into casseroles and soups. They don’t have any particular flavor and blend into whatever food they are added to, so getting the health benefits that chia seeds provide isn’t hard.
How, exactly, will chia seeds benefit your health? Here are 20 advantages you’ll reap when you add these tiny, but mighty, seeds to your diet.
1. Boost energy levels
If you’re feeling sluggish, instead of pouring a cup of coffee and grabbing an energy drink, reach for some chia seeds. Packed with antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, protein, and tons of vitamins and minerals, including phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium, chia seeds work wonders for raising energy levels. In fact, a recent study found that chia seeds provide just as much, if not more, energy than an energy drink. And, unlike energy drinks, they are all-natural and don’t contain ingredients that could be harmful to your health. Sprinkle some chia seeds onto a bowl of cereal or mix them into a smoothie for an energy boost.
2. Minimize the effects of type 2 diabetes
While there is no cure for type 2 diabetes, chia seeds could certainly help to ease the effects of this chronic health condition.
Research has found that chia seeds can lessen body’s resistance to insulin while lowering both cholesterol and fat levels in the blood. Chia seeds turn into a gelatinous substance when eating, which it is believed slows down the process of breaking down carbohydrates.
As a result, the digestive system is able to process sugar as a slower rate. If you have type 2 diabetes, adding chia seeds to your diet could prove to be highly beneficial for your overall health.
3. Strengthen the bones
Everyone knows that calcium is vital for healthy bones. If you aren’t getting enough calcium, your bones will eventually weaken and won’t be able to function properly. Yes, you can increase your calcium intake and take supplements to improve the health of your bones, but you can also add chia seeds to your diet.
In fact, you’ll get way more calcium from a single serving of chia seeds than you will from a glass of milk. One teaspoon of chia seeds will give you more than 10 percent of the daily recommended intake of calcium.
In addition to calcium, chia seeds also contain magnesium, protein, and phosphorus, all nutrients that are important for the health of your bones.
4. Lower the risk of heart disease
If you have a family history of heart disease, there’s a good chance that you could develop this serious health condition, too. There are several ways that you can lower your risk of heart disease, and consuming chia seeds is one of them.
Studies have found that these tiny seeds can improve metabolic health, lower the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, reduce blood pressure, and even reduce inflammation in various parts of the body, including the heart.
All of these factors improve blood flow, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease.
5. Aids in weight loss
While eating a well balanced diet filled with a variety of nutritious foods and exercise are the keys to losing weight; however, adding chia seeds into the mix may just help you reach your goal a whole lot faster.
When you make chia seeds a part of your regular diet, you are nourishing your body with a high dose of dietary fiber. Fiber helps to regulate the digestive system and slows down the absorption of food.
Chia seeds will actually expand your stomach, which will make you feel fuller and reduce your appetite, which could certainly be beneficial for weight loss.
6. Excellent source of protein
Protein can come from a variety of sources, and chia seeds are one of the best. Unlike animal protein, they aren’t filled with dense fats that could lead to high cholesterol; in fact, as discussed, these seeds can actually help to lower your cholesterol levels. And, not only are chia seeds packed with protein, but they also contain omega 3 fatty acids and amino acids.
These two compounds assist the body in absorbing the protein found in the seeds. If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, or you just want to reduce your intake of animal products, chia seeds are an excellent way to ensure you’re getting adequate protein.
7. Full of good carbs
A lot of people are under the assumption that carbohydrates are bad for them; however, that’s not the case at all. In fact, your body needs carbohydrates for several reasons, such as energy production. But, not all carbs are created equal.
There are bad carbs and good carbs. The bad carbs can leave you tired and bloated, and they can lead to weight gain. They can wreck havoc on your blood sugar levels.
Good carbs, on the other hand, improve your energy levels and actually help you lose weight. Chia seeds are loaded with good carbs, so you’ll see a boost in your energy levels and a reduction in your waistline when you eat them.
8. Fights free radical damage
You may not know it, but your body is constantly being attacked by oxidative stress. Atoms known as free radicals can cause significant damage to the proteins and cells in your body, as well as your DNA.
They are associated with several health conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease, among others. They can also speed up the effects of aging. Chia seeds can help to combat all of the damage caused by free radicals.
That’s because they are filled with antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent the chain reaction caused by free radicals, which means an improvement in your overall health and well being.
9. Reduce the signs of aging
As discussed above, chia seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants, so they are a powerful tool for fighting the damage caused by free radicals.
In addition to damaging the internal organs, free radicals can also do damage to the body’s only exterior organ, and its largest organ: the skin. These atoms damage the cells of the skin, which boosts the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
The antioxidants found in chia seeds, however, can help to repair the skin and prevent it from any further damage.
10. Improve digestive health
Since chia seeds are so high in fiber (offering about 11 grams per 1 ounce serving,) it makes sense that they are a powerful tool for improving your digestive health. Fiber plays a vital role in balancing insulin levels. It also regulates digestive healthy by keeping the bowels in-check.
Additionally, as we mentioned earlier, when chia seeds are consumed, they create a gelatinous substance, which lines the stomach.
This actually works as a prebiotic and supports the growth of powerful probiotics in the gut. Just one serving of chia seeds can satisfy the recommended daily intake for an entire day.