Chi- chi- chi- chia! I’m not talking about “Chia Pets” but their inspiration, the chia seed. Over the past few years, chia seeds have become increasingly popular on the health scene, being decorated with the term “superfood”.
These tiny black and gray seeds have actually been used for centuries throughout Central America for fiber and energy. Chia seeds are filled with nutrients in a tiny package. Let’s talk about some of the health benefits these nutrient-packed seeds offer.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Soluble Fiber: Chia seeds contain about 10 grams of fiber in just 2 tablespoons. Most of this fiber is soluble fiber which is made up of water-loving molecules. Due to their high soluble fiber content, chia seeds absorb the water around them to form a gel-type substance.
If you have ever seen a recipe for chia seed pudding that is what is happening. Soluble fiber may help aid weight loss because it keeps you feeling full for a longer time and you may get full faster which helps with portion control. This type of fiber is very important for keeping your intestines healthy. It also can interfere with the absorption of “bad” or LDL cholesterol to help lower blood cholesterol and it helps control blood sugar levels.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Omega-3 fatty acids are important nutrients to get from your food. They are essential for cardiovascular and brain health. There are a few types of omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are a particularly good source of ALA or alph-linolenic acid. This type of fatty acid can be converted by the body into EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA or docosahexaenoic acid. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation throughout the body.
It is especially important to be sure you are eating omega-3 rich foods each day because typically in America we consume less omega-3 fatty acids and more omega-6 fatty acids. While omega-6 fatty acids are also essential to your health, they can increase inflammation and must be balanced out. It is recommended to have a higher ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s.
Protein & B Vitamins These little seeds contain 5g of protein for a 2 tablespoon serving and contain B vitamins. This is great for those who don’t consume a lot of meat. What’s best is that chia seeds are a complete source of protein meaning chia seeds contain all the essential amino acids your body requires.
Amino acids are the building blocks for protein and there are nine amino acids that are “essential” to take in through food because the body cannot make them. Chia seeds contain all nine amino acids which is not as easily found in plant based foods compared to animal based foods. Chia seeds also provide niacin and thiamine, B vitamins which assist us in using food as fuel and for brain and nervous system health.
Strong Bones As if we didn’t already love chia seeds, they also contain a few nutrients which are important for strong bones. These include calcium, manganese, phosphorous, and copper. It’s been said time after time that calcium is essential to maintaining bone health and strength but what about these other nutrients?
Manganese is needed for metabolizing carbohydrates, regenerating red blood cells, and of course forming bones. Phosphorus not only helps build strong bones but also is used in forming DNA and in storing energy. Finally, we have copper which helps your body by keeping nerves healthy, forming red blood cells, and maintaining bone strength.
With all these health benefits, it’s easy to see why chia seeds have taken on such popularity. Just remember that they contain a lot of fiber which means you can’t forget to drink extra water. These seeds are an easy and indiscreet method for adding a lot of nutrients to your usual foods. Chia seeds have a mild taste that won’t alter the taste of meals plus they are so small that you would hardly notice them. It is time to give chia seeds a try!