Chia Seeds: How Healthy are They?
I don’t know about you but whenever I hear or say chia, I think of chia pets! And yes, that little planter is indeed covered in a chia paste that is very similar to the way many of us will EAT chia seeds today!
The Aztecs ate this food as their main source of various nutrients and daily energy. Used as a thickener, egg substitute, and nutrient booster, you can’t go wrong by adding this tiny powerhouse to your plate.
What Benefits do Chia Seeds have?
According to Harvard T.H. CHAN | School of Public Health, The Nutrition Source report, it has the following benefits as mentioned below;
- Reducing risks of obesity
- Preventing a spike in blood sugar
- May help increase energy
- They can be hydrating since they absorb so much water
- Lowering cholesterol
- Regulating heart rhythms
- Reducing blood pressure
- Decreasing inflammation
- Slowing digestion (which can help you feel satiated longer)
- Promoting healthy digestion and bowel movements
- Possibly reducing your risk of disease related mortality
- May help you achieve a healthier complexion
Chia Seeds are High in Antioxidants
Chia seeds are so high in antioxidants, some researchers cite them as “potent” in antioxidant activity. Antioxidants protect the seeds from going rancid themselves and they will offer you protection as well.
They will help fight against premature aging, combat diseases, and help to keep your hair, skin, and nails beautiful and bright.
Chia is Full of Fiber and Protein
Providing 10g of fiber per ounce you will feel satiated, avoid constipation, and experience many other health benefits that come along with fiber.
Because of their high fiber content, they can absorb 10 times their weight in water and will expand to form a gel.
They are a good source of protein providing 4.7g per 1 ounce! As a vegan, this can be a great staple providing so much more than just a great source of protein.
How much Omega-3 is in Chia Seeds?
They’re rich in omega 3 fatty acids, specifically providing 5 grams in a 1 ounce serving. By the way, did you know that a 1 ounce serving is only 2 tablespoons!
Healthy fats are beneficial for heart health, neurodevelopment in infants, fighting against cancer, overall eye health, and has been shown to reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
These powerhouse seeds contain more calcium than many dairy foods providing 18% of the RDI in one ounce. So this could be a great addition if you limit dairy from your daily food intake.
Still not convinced how amazing they are? Chia seeds will also provide you with:
- Manganese – 30% of RDI in one ounce
- Magnesium – 30% of the RDA one ounce
- Iron – 2.2g
- You’ll also find small amounts of zinc, vitamin B3, potassium, vitamin B1 and vitamin B2.
Why are Chia Seeds Bad for You?
As mentioned, they have an incredible ability to absorb liquid. In one rare, reported incident, a man had a choking episode after he ate a tablespoon of chia seeds followed by a glass of water.
You will see in many recipes containing chia seeds that they are supposed to be soaked before eating or adding them to the rest of the ingredients. Consequently, this man also had an esophageal condition which may have caused this choking incident to be even worse.
Another downside of eating chia seeds is that they may cause abdominal bloating, gas, and discomfort. If you aren’t already eating foods rich in fiber, and drinking enough water, this could likely happen.
Chia seed, since containing ALA, may increase the risk of prostate cancer. Although there is little evidence to make a strong opinion, being informed is always best when it comes to your personal health history.
Not that it’s a reason to say they are bad for you, it should be noted that they have the tendency to get caught in your teeth so be sure to peek in the mirror after eating them!
How much Chia Seeds should you Eat Daily?
Although there isn’t a recommendation for chia seeds, there is a recommendation for the nutrients found in chia seeds.
- Fiber RDA: men 30g; women 25g
- Calcium RDA: 1,000mg/day women; 1200mg/day men
- Iron RDA: men 18mg/day; women 8mg/day men
- Magnesium RDA: male 400mg female 310mg
- Omega 3 Adequate Intakes: 1.6g male; 1.1g female (listed as Adequate Intake because there is currently insufficient evidence to adapt and RDA).
- Blended into smoothies
- Added to baked goods to simply increase nutrition, used as a fat replacement, or egg replacement (especially great for those who have an egg allergy)
- Added to water mixtures such as teas
- Mix in with oatmeal or yogurt for a boost in nutrition
- Sprinkle on top of salads for nutrition and crunch!
- Add to milk to make a healthy pudding
That being said, it would be beneficial to add chia seeds daily, into at least one recipe.
How do you eat chia seeds?
Chia seeds are very versatile but are not intended to be eaten dry, all on their own.
Some of the popular ways to eat chia seeds:
One of my favorite ways to eat chia seeds is when they serve as a crunchy coating on energy bites.
Try this recipe: Mix ½ cup unsweetened coconut milk, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup in a mason jar. After refrigerating for at least 4 hours, top pudding with chopped walnuts and fresh berries. Enjoy!
There are a variety of ways this amazing food can be prepared so you’ll surely never get bored.
Do Chia Seeds make your Skin Glow?
Healthy fats, namely omega-6 and omega-3 are important in keeping skin healthy and strong.
Being an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids chia seeds could be a glowing addition to your next recipe!
But wait! This seed isn’t just for eating. You can also mix 2 teaspoons of chia seeds, 1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and ½ cup of coconut oil together for a soothing, moisturizing, and brightening exfoliator.
Chia seeds truly are a SUPER-food!
Can Chia Seeds Reduce Belly Fat?
It hasn’t been shown that chia seeds alone can reduce belly fat but let’s break a few components down to show how they can be part of your healthy weight loss goal.
High fiber and protein can assist in weight loss in general. Considering chia seeds have 5g fiber and nearly 3g of protein per tablespoon, they could be a great addition to your daily intake to assist in your weight loss plan.
Being a rich source of both nutrients, chia can help fill those gaps especially when it comes to snacking. The snack recipes aforementioned, energy bites and pudding, are great ideas to start with.
Although it does appear that fish oil may help in the reduction of waist to hip ratio when combined with lifestyle modifications, the evidence is still not strong enough to prove that other sources of omega-3, such as chia seeds, may reduce belly fat or weight overall.
Remember, the most effective way to reduce fat is by combining a healthy diet of whole grains, lean proteins, whey proteins, plenty of fruits and veggies, proper hydration, a mix of healthy fats, daily activity, plenty of rest, and relaxation.
They are tiny, can be used in numerous ways, and pack a large nutritional punch that everyone can benefit from.
If you have underlying health conditions or concerns, be sure to check with your physician or a Registered Dietitian who will be able to help you in adding this superfood to your daily food intake.