Small but mighty, chia seeds might not seem like much, but they are a fantastic addition to your plate.
These little seeds are native to Guatemala and Mexico and have been a staple for both the Mayans and Aztecs (1).
But did the Mayans know that these seeds contain essential fatty acids, fiber, and minerals crucial for our body’s functioning? Well, the word “chia” means “strength” in ancient Mayan. So, they were definitely on to something.
Table of Contents
- Chia Seed Benefits
- Ways to add Chia Seeds to your Diet
Chia Seed Benefits
The fact is chia seeds are super versatile, with tons of nutritional benefits, and now we’re going to talk about just that.
1. Plenty of digestive benefits
Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber. You can get up to 10 grams per serving, and that’s around 36% of the daily recommended dose of fiber the average adult needs (2).
Diets high in fiber are great for keeping your digestive system healthy, improving heart health, and reducing cholesterol levels (3).
The problem is that in our day and age, people don’t eat enough fiber, leading to a series of chronic issues, such as constipation or diabetes.
Chia seeds have both soluble and insoluble fiber, helping you keep a healthy and balanced diet.
Summary:Chia seeds are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which can help improve digestion and prevent constipation.
2. May help with Weight Loss
Studies show that chia seeds may help with weight loss. It is mostly due to the high amounts of fiber they contain. (4)
According to a 2011 study review, chia seeds might help people reduce their body mass in the short term (5).
In another study, the participants who added chia seeds to their yogurt reported a higher feeling of satiation compared to those eating only breakfast yogurt without the chia seeds (6).
Another study done in 2014 found that discreet weight loss occurred in the study, although it wasn’t significant compared to the placebo (7).
While more research is needed, one thing is sure – adding chia seeds to your diet will help you feel full for longer and prevent you from having unhealthy snacks throughout the day. So, chia seeds are the perfect meal add-on you will ever need. Furthermore, the fiber content will keep your blood sugar levels in check even after a big meal.
Summary:Research has shown that consuming chia seeds can help you to feel fuller longer, which long term may help to promote weight loss when added to meals regularly.
3. Good for Heart Health
Chia seeds contain an antioxidant called quercetin, which can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease and other heart conditions (8).
Chia seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats that are good for the heart (9).
About 75% of the fat in chia seeds is made up of alpha-linolenic acid, with the other about 20% being omega-6 fatty acids (10).
This ratio helps prevent various conditions, including heart disease, and could reduce the risk of premature death.
While there are still not many studies on the effects of chia seeds on heart disease, a study on rats showed that it could lower triglycerides and reduce oxidative stress (11).
It also was found to reduce high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for developing heart disease.
Chia seeds also contain a significant amount of copper, which is essential for maintaining heart health, although lacking in many people’s diets.
Summary:Chia seeds contain several nutrients all good for heart health such as antioxidants, copper, and fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6.
4. It helps keep cholesterol in check
Some studies have looked at how chia seeds consumption can affect cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
According to a 2021 study review involving 10 clinical trials, it was discovered that chia seeds increase the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, considered good cholesterol (12). This could help balance the blood lipids and improve cardiovascular health.
The study review also found that chia seeds have a beneficial effect on most markers in a person’s fatty acid profile.
While the findings are still a little scarce, chia seeds have the potential to become an excellent addition for those looking to lower their LDL cholesterol levels.
Most studies focused on how people suffering from diabetes or metabolic syndrome responded to a healthy diet containing between 25 and 50 grams of chia seeds per day (13). The results were promising, showing how chia seeds could significantly lower triglyceride levels.
While no food will magically solve your cholesterol problems, adopting a healthy, balanced diet can keep cholesterol in check.
Summary:Several studies have shown that consuming chia seeds may improve cholesterol levels by increasing HDL (good) cholesterol and lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.
5. It May Reduce Free Radicals In the Body
Chia seeds are loaded with tons of antioxidants, helping reduce the oxidative stress damaging your body’s cells (14).
Oxidative stress is the disturbance between the production of free radicals and antioxidants. Too many free radicals will do considerable damage, linked to aging and certain cancers too.
Chia seeds contain quercetin – a powerful antioxidant that can reduce the risk of several health problems, including heart or liver disease, and could prevent certain types of cancer.
Chia seeds also contain myricetin, caffeic acid, kaempferol, and chlorogenic acid, which can also work wonders on your body (15).
Chlorogenic acid, in particular, has been found to lower blood pressure, and caffeic acid is a natural anti-inflammatory compound.
Eating chia seeds every day could benefit your heart and liver and reduce the risk of cancer if you’re at risk for any of these.
Summary:Due to the high amount of antioxidants chia seeds contain, consuming them may help decrease oxidative stress and free radicals that damage cells throughout the body.
6. May Lower Inflammation
Inflammation is your body’s immune response when there is a foreign invader.
However, certain elements, such as processed foods, can contribute to chronic inflammation, leading to cancer, heart disease, and other serious conditions.
Caffeic acid, which is found in chia seeds, also helps fight chronic inflammation (16). Moreover, some scientists believe that a high intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may reduce inflammation in the body. Good news, chia seeds also contain omega-3 and omega-6.
So, adding chia seeds to your diet can significantly improve the inflammatory markers in the body. This can help prevent inflammatory disease as well.
Summary:Chia seeds contain caffeic acid, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids, all of which may help to reduce inflammation in the body.
7. Helps Control Blood Sugar
Chia seeds may help reduce blood sugar spikes in the body.
In a small study from 2017, two groups of participants consumed flax and chia seeds, respectively, to find out which were more efficient in slowing down how the body releases glucose. It was found that chia seeds were better at reducing blood sugar spikes than flax seeds. While the study was small, it proved promising, especially for people suffering from type 2 diabetes (17).
The generous amount of fiber from chia seeds may also help reduce insulin resistance, improving blood sugar levels.
Another study found that chia seeds triggered a different low blood sugar response compared to traditional grains and could help improve one’s blood sugar levels (18).
There are also promising animal studies examining chia seeds and how they might impact insulin sensitivity. This can help stabilize your blood sugar levels after meals. However, more research is necessary to make a full claim.
Summary:When compared to other seeds like flax and grains, chia seeds may be a better option to consume to improve blood sugar levels.
8. Helps in Strengthening Bones
Chia seeds may also prove helpful for bone health. They are rich in phosphorus and magnesium, which are both compounds necessary for healthy bones.
You get around 14% of the recommended daily amounts of calcium from just one ounce of chia seeds, which promotes healthy bones and nerves (19).
Chia seeds have been found to have more calcium than regular dairy products depending on how much you eat. So if you want to, go easier on that milk and add some more chia seeds to your meals to improve your bone mineral density.
Another animal study involving rats found that eating chia seeds every day for 13 months helped increase bone mineral content compared to the placebo group.
Summary:Chia seeds are rich in minerals important for bone health, including phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium.
9. Amazing Nutritional Profile
There’s a reason why chia seeds were the main component of the Aztec and Mayan diets, serving as a vital survival ration for warriors. Apparently, a tablespoon of chia seeds could help an individual go through the day back then.
Ancient civilizations believed these tiny seeds were extremely powerful, and modern science can now confirm that.
One serving of chia seeds contains 138 calories, 8.7 grams of fat, 11.9 grams of carbs, 5 grams of alpha-linolenic acid, 4.7 grams of protein, 14% RDI calcium, 23% RDI magnesium, 20% phosphorus, 15% RDI thiamine and 16% RDI niacin (20).
They bring a ton of health benefits. On average, a single serving is around 2 tablespoons, so 2 tablespoons a day gets you this fantastic nutritional profile!
Did You Know?:Just 2 tablespoons a day of chia seeds provides an ample amount of nutrients for your body.
Ways to add Chia Seeds to your Diet
Unlike other foods that involve a drastic change to incorporate, chia seeds are relatively easy to add to your daily diet.
They might seem bland at first, but they’re still perfect for almost anything.
You can eat them raw, put them in smoothies, or add them to porridge, oatmeal, or even pudding. Some like having them for breakfast by sprinkling them on top of yogurt or cereals.
They are also a great binding agent for homemade fritters!
Because they can absorb fat and water, they also work well to thicken sauces and can even be used as a substitute for eggs. Again, they are super easy to work with and offer various astounding nutritional benefits.
Summary:Chia seeds can be easily incorporated into your diet since they can be consumed raw or by absorbing fats and/or water.
So, chia seeds have fantastic health benefits and are super easy to add to your diet. Don’t overlook or underestimate them.