Chia seeds have unexpectedly come into our lives out of the blue. Well this is not exactly the case, because these magical seeds date back to Mayan and Aztec cultures, but Western civilizations have only recently welcomed them back on a larger scale. “Chia” means strength, and folklore has it that these cultures used the tiny black and white seeds as an energy booster. That makes sense, as chia seeds are a concentrated food containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium. So in order to stay informed, here are 10 facts and figures about the benefits of chia seeds.
# 1. Nutritional info for an ounce of chia seeds:
◦ Calories: 137
◦ Calcium: 18 percent of the RDA
◦ Manganese: 30 percent of the RDA
◦ Magnesium: 30 percent of the RDA
◦ Phosphorus: 27 percent of the RDA
They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2. Half of their fat content consists of Omega-3s.
#2. Chia seeds are hydrophilic
This means that they are absorb water and when digested expand, creating a feeling of fullness. Chia seeds aren’t just healthy, but they contribute to weight loss as well. The added benefit to this feeling of fullness is that its nutritional content maintains a feeling of satiety. What they do once ingested, is they bulk up and give you a full feeling for longer. Although if you aren’t drinking enough water, this can cause blockages… So make sure you stay well hydrated.
#3. Chia Seeds Are Loaded With Antioxidants
Although antioxidant supplements are not very effective, or at least that’s what they say, getting antioxidants from foods can have positive effects on health. Most importantly, antioxidants fight the production of free radicals, which can damage molecules in cells and contribute to aging and diseases like cancer.
#4. Almost All the Carbs in Them Are Fiber
The true carb content is only 1 gram per ounce, which is very low. This makes chia a low-carb friendly food. Because of all the fiber, chia seeds can absorb up to 10-12 times their weight in water. Fiber doesn’t raise blood sugar, doesn’t require insulin to be disposed of and therefore shouldn’t count as a carb.
#5. Chia seeds are prebiotics for the probiotics in your stomach.
Probiotics are the friendly bacteria in our stomach that we should all have plenty of in order to have a healthy digestion and to fight deseases. Well prebiotics are the food for probiotics, and chia seeds is one of them. The fiber in them feeds the friendly bacteria in the intestine, which is important for keeping your gut bugs well fed. Chia seeds are 40 percent fiber, by weight.
#6. Chia Seeds Are High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
In fact, chia seeds contain more Omega-3s than salmon, gram for gram. However it’s important to keep in mind that the Omega-3s in them are mostly ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid), which is not as beneficial as you may think. ALA needs to convert into the “active” forms, EPA and DHA, before the body can use it. But unfortunately, humans are inefficient at converting ALA into the active forms. Therefore, plant Omega-3s tend to be vastly inferior to animal sources like fish.
#7. Chia Seeds lowers the risk of heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes
In two recent studies, a diet with chia seeds, soy protein, oats and nopal, has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, increase HDL cholesterol and reduce inflammation. Rat studies have also shown that chia seeds can lower triglycerides, raise HDL – the “good” cholesterol and reduce inflammation, insulin resistance and belly fat.
#8. Chia seeds are the best egg replacer
The outer layer of chia seeds swells when mixed with liquids to form a gel. This can be used instead of eggs to lower cholesterol and increase the nutrient content of foods and baked goods. To make the egg replacement, mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for 15 minutes.
#9. They Are High in Many Important Bone Nutrients
Chia seeds are high in several nutrients that are important for bone health. This includes calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and protein. Moreover, the calcium content is particularly impressive – 18% of the RDA in a single ounce, which is higher than most dairy products. In other words, Chia seeds may be considered an excellent source of calcium for people who don’t eat dairy.
#10. Chia seeds can improve exercise performance as much as a sports drink
In a recent study, six participants were “carb loaded” with either Gatorade, or a mix of half Gatorade/half chia seeds. Afterwards they ran for an hour on a treadmill, followed by a timed 10-kilometer long run. There was no difference between the two groups whatsoever. Legend has it that the Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds to fuel performance back in the day.
So what more could you ask for? Have your Chia seed daily intake as soon as possible.