Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica and are native to South America. These seeds were an important food for the Aztecs and Mayans to sustain energy. “Chia” actually is the ancient Mayan word for “strength”. Only recently has chia seed has become widely known as a super food. Chia seeds can easily be incorporated into your daily diet. They don’t have much taste, so you can put them into pretty much anything! Adding chia seeds will dramatically boost the nutrition in any food you use it with. You can sprinkle them on cereal, oatmeal, yogurts or vegetables. You can put them in baked goods such as healthy muffins and bread. Chia seeds are well tolerated, so there really is no reason for not incorporating them into your diet.
Here are seven important benefits of Chia seeds.
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, giving you 5 grams in a 1-ounce serving which equates to two tablespoons. And as we all know by now, omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation in the body, which lead to pain and disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are also very important for brain health, enhancing cognitive performance, and also for lowering high cholesterol.
Chia seeds have a lot of fiber, 10 grams in 2 tablespoons, which is one-third of the recommended daily intake of fiber. For this reason, these seeds are excellent for reducing inflammation, and also important for digestive health. Chia is being studied as a possible, natural treatment for type 2 diabetes, because it can slow down digestion, helping to prevent insulin spikes. Fiber can also aid in weight loss.
Chia seeds are high in antioxidants, which protects the body from free radicals that one may get from certain chemicals, smoking, pollution, and radiation. This, in turn, helps lower the risk for infections and some cancers. Antioxidants are also important for heart health.
Chia seeds have a good amount of important minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and manganese. All these minerals help prevent hypertension and maintain a good healthy weight. These minerals also aid in maintaining healthy teeth and bones. Specifically, phosphorus promotes cell and tissue growth and repair.
Chia seeds are a good source of protein, which it beneficial for vegetarians who don’t get their protein from meat. Having protein in the diet helps with weight loss because it helps to reduce appetite, therefore reducing food intake and cravings between meals. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 4.4 grams of protein which is nearly 10 percent of the recommended daily value.
6. Improve Exercise Endurance
Chia seeds provide hydration for athletes. They absorb 10 times their weight in water, making a “chia gel”. Athletes can “carb load” using chia seeds, lowering sugar intake (from sports drinks), and increasing nutrient intake.
7. Benefits for Diabetes
Chia seeds slow down the process of converting carbs into simple sugars in our bodies, therefore controlling blood sugar. Studies suggest that they can help reduce blood sugar spikes after eating a meal, resulting in major improvements in type 2 diabetes patients.