Chia Seeds Pack A Punch!
Chia seeds are small but do not be deceived by their size. These seeds are incredibly nutritious and have amazing health benefits that you may not have known. This article will introduce you to these health benefits and show you why you should start adding chia seeds to your diet today.
What Are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. Its origin is believed to be in Central America where the seed was a staple in the ancient Aztec diet. Salvia hispanica is a flowering plant in the mint family that grows up to approximately 5.7 feet high and has leaves that are 1.6-3.1 inches long and 1.3-2 inches wide. Chia plants produce numerous white or purple flowers that are clustered in spikes at the end of the stem. Take a look at the picture above!
Chia Seed Nutrition Facts
A one-ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains (1):
- Fiber: 11 grams.
- Protein: 4 grams.
- Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are omega-3s).
- Calcium: 18% of the RDI.
- Manganese: 30% of the RDI.
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDI.
- Phosphorus: 27% of the RDI.
- They also contain a decent amount of zinc,
vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2.
Here’s an interesting fact for you! If you subtract the fiber — most of which doesn’t end up as usable calories for your body — chia seeds actually only contain 101 calories per ounce (28 grams).
Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds
#1 Boosts heart health and regulates blood pressure
Chia seeds can easily become your heart’s best friend! Chia seeds are high in polyunsaturated fats, fibre, and omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA). These can help to lower blood pressure. In fact, a few studies show that chia seeds significantly reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension, which is a strong risk factor for heart disease.
#2 Protein for your cells and muscles
Chia seeds are small but mighty. By weight, they’re about 14% protein, which is very high compared to most plants. Protein is an essential nutrient needed for cell growth, repair, and production. Having foods high in protein, such as chia seeds have numerous benefits. It can help with muscle mass and strength. Furthermore, foods rich in protein can also help to regulate your appetite. It has been shown that a high protein intake lowers appetite and has been shown to reduce obsessive thoughts about food by 60% and the desire for nighttime snacking by 50%
#3 Strengthens bones
Chia seeds are high in several nutrients that are important for bone health. These include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and protein. The calcium content is particularly impressive — 18% of the RDI in a single ounce (28 grams). The calcium content in chia seeds is comparable or even higher than most dairy products, making it a great vegan alternative, or for those who are lactose intolerant. Calcium can also help to boost nerve function as well!
#4 Improve gut health
Looking for a fun or interesting way to include more fibre in your diet? Chia seeds may be the way to go. High fibre intake is not only linked to better gut health, but also a lower risk of numerous diseases. A single ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds provides 9.75 grams of fibre, which is 25% and 39% of the RDI for men and women, respectively.
#5 Regulating appetite
The high amounts of soluble fibre in chia seeds give it an interesting superpower. Chia seeds can absorb 10-12 times the weight in water, giving them a gel-like consistency. Drinking chia seed water or eating foods with chia can increase the feeling of fullness, slow down the absorption of food, thus making you eat fewer calories and aiding in weight loss.
Chia Seed Pudding
Trying to figure out what you can do with nutritious chia seeds? This recipe makes for a healthy alternative for your favourite desserts.
- 3-4 Tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 cup milk (e.g. unsweetened coconut, almond or cashew milk)
- 1/2 Tablespoon maple syrup, honey or sweetener of choice
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
- Toppings of choice: fresh or dried berries/fruit or other fruit granola, nut butter, etc)
- In a bowl or mason jar, stir together chia seeds, milk, maple syrup and vanilla, if using. If you’re using a mason jar, you can put the lid on and shake the mixture to combine everything.
- Once the chia pudding mixture is well combined, let it sit for 5 minutes, give it another stir/shake to break up any clumps of chia seeds, cover and put the mixture in the fridge to “set” for 1-2 hours or overnight. The chia pudding should be nice and thick, not liquid. If it’s not thick enough, just add more chia seeds (about 1 Tablespoon), stir and refrigerate for another 30 minutes or so.
- Chia pudding can be stored for up to 5-7 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Chia seeds will make a great addition to your diet. They are packed with nutrients and can be added to your diet in so many ways. Hop on the chia seed bandwagon today!