Anyone interested in healthy eating can get pretty excited about chia seeds! They are really easy to prepare and create delicious recipes from, and they are packed with nutrients that benefit your body and brain.
We’ve found them to be a real hit as toddler food too – perfect nutrition for their developing brains and easy to win over the fussiest of eaters since you can flavour them easily with their favourite fruits.
You’ll see chia seeds pop up regularly in recipes posted on our site, so it may well become a staple ingredient in your pantry, and it’s good to know exactly how this amazing food is nourishing your body.
1. Chia Seeds Deliver a Massive Amount of Nutrients With Very Few Calories
“Chia” is in fact the ancient Mayan word for “strength.”Don’t be fooled by the size… these tiny seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch. They are loaded with fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and various micronutrients
A 1 ounce (28 grams/2 tablespoons) serving of chia seeds contains:
- Fiber: 11 grams.
- Protein: 4 grams.
- Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
- Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
- Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
- Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
- They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.
2. Chia Seeds Are Loaded With Antioxidants
Chia seeds are high in antioxidants that help to protect the delicate fats in the seeds.
3. Almost All The Carbs in Them Are Fiber
Almost all of the carbohydrates in chia seeds are fiber. The true carb content is only 1 gram per ounce, which is very low.
The high fiber gives them the ability to absorb 10-12 times their weight in water, helping to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
4. Chia Seeds Are High in Quality Protein
Chia seeds are high in quality protein, much higher than most plant foods, making them an excellent protein source for people who eat little or no animal products
Protein is the most weight loss friendly macronutrient and can drastically reduce appetite and cravings.
5. Due to The High Fiber and Protein Content, Chia Seeds Should be Able to Help You Lose Weight
Many health experts believe that chia seeds can help with weight loss.
Chia seeds are high in protein and fiber, both of which have been shown to aid weight loss.
However, the studies on chia seeds have not noted any effects on weight.
6. Chia Seeds Are High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Chia seeds are very high in the Omega-3 fatty acid ALA. However, humans are not good at converting this into DHA, the most important Omega-3 fatty acid.
In order to get the DHA your body and brain desperately need… either eat fatty fish regularly, take fish oil, or take a DHA supplement if you are vegan or vegetarian.
7. Chia Seeds May Improve Certain Blood Markers, Which Should Lower The Risk of Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes
Given that chia seeds are high in fiber, protein and Omega-3s, they should be able to improve metabolic health.
This has been tested in several studies, but the results have been inconclusive. Some studies show an effect, others do not.
Overall… it is possible that chia seeds can improve these risk factors, but probably won’t have a major effect unless followed by other beneficial changes in the diet.
8. 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.
The calcium content is particularly impressive… 18% of the RDA in a single ounce. Gram for gram, this is higher than most dairy products.
9. Chia Seeds Can Cause Major Improvements in Type 2 Diabetics
A study in type 2 diabetics showed that chia seeds can significantly lower blood pressure and a marker for inflammation.
10. Chia Seeds Can Improve Exercise Performance as Much as a Sports Drink
Legend has it that the Aztecs and Mayans used chia seeds to fuel performance back in the day.
One small study shows that chia seeds can partly replace gatorade as a way of carb loading for endurance athletes, but this needs to be studied more.
Given that most of the carbs in chia seeds are fiber, it doesn’t make much sense that they could be used for carb loading.
11. Chia Seeds Are Easy to Incorporate Into Your Diet
Okay, this last one is not a health benefit, but important nonetheless.
Chia seeds are incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet.
The seeds themselves taste rather bland, so you can add them to pretty much anything.
They also don’t need to be ground like flax seeds, which makes them much easier to prepare.
They can be eaten raw, soaked in juice, added to porridges and puddings, or added to baked goods.
You can also sprinkle them on top of cereal, yogurt, vegetables or rice dishes.
Because of their ability to absorb both water and fat, they can be used to thicken sauces and even used as egg substitutes in recipes.
They can also be mixed with water and turned into a gel.
Adding chia seeds to recipes will dramatically boost the nutritional value.