Chia seeds are the edible seeds of the chia plant. This ancient grain is making a comeback, but there are many reasons to keep chia seeds around for the long run. They are a highly versatile food jam packed with essential nutrients that keep us healthy.
Let’s dive into all the amazing benefits of chia seeds.
Chia seeds have a high protein quality by weight providing 4 grams of protein per 1 oz, which is very high compared to most plant foods.
They have a superior amino acid profile that makes chia seeds an excellent choice for those following a plant-based diet.
Foods rich in protein help maintain body weight and help with satiety, meaning you will feel full and satisfied after eating. Additionally, protein-rich foods help to maintain lean muscle mass and maintain body weight.
Chia seeds are packed with soluble fiber and mucilage, the substance responsible for the gluey texture of moistened chia seeds.
One ounce of chia seeds contains 10 grams of fiber, this is about 40% of our daily recommended intake of fiber. The high fiber content of chia seeds may help in type 2 diabetes by slowing down the digestion process and release of glucose.
It also improves the peristaltic movement of the intestine and reduces plasma cholesterol. Consuming fiber can also decrease the risk for coronary heart disease, and several types of cancer.
A diet with adequate fiber also helps to prevent constipation and promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract. Regular bowel movements are crucial for the excretion of toxins through the bile and stool.
Antioxidants are substances that help protect your body from free radicals.
Free radicals are substances in the body that can damage cells and may lead to many chronic health problems such as cardiovascular and inflammatory disease, cataracts, and cancer.
Chia seeds are a great source of antioxidants with the presence of chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol which are believed to have cardiac-protective, liver-protective effects, anti-aging, and anti-carcinogenic characteristics.
High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Healthy fats are extremely important in reducing inflammation, providing a major source of fuel for the body, and helping promote optimal brain, nerve, and heart function.
Chia seeds contain a high amount of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent increased LDL, triglyceride, and lower HDL cholesterol.
The therapeutic quality of a diet is affected not only by the amount of omega-3 fats consumed but also by their proportion to omega-6 acids. It is important to have a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce the prevalence of chronic disease.
Higher amounts of omega-6 compared to omega-3 may lead to low-grade inflammation, which over time may contribute to rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, dyslipidemia, diabetes, obesity, and heart failure.
Packed with Essential Minerals
Not only are chia seeds filled with fiber, protein, antioxidants, and healthy fats, they contain an adequate source of manganese, which is essential for metabolism; phosphorus, which helps with bone health; copper, which is key for heart health; selenium, which is an antioxidant; and calcium, which is essential for muscle and bone health.
Ways to Use Chia Seeds
It can be difficult to find an egg replacement for vegan baked goods, but chia seeds are an excellent option. Once placed in water, chia seeds swell up into a gelatinous texture, similar to the texture of an egg.
To make your chia seed egg, combine 1 tablespoon whole or ground chia seeds with ¼ cup water. Leave aside the mixture for about 5 to 10 minutes until it thickens into a gelatinous consistency. This recipe yields the equivalent of 1 standard egg.
Chia Seed Pudding
Chia seed pudding can be a delicious breakfast or healthy dessert packed with fiber, healthy fat, and essential minerals. Make your own by combining 1 tbsp of chia seeds to 1 cup of your preferred milk: cows, oat, almond, etc. For extra flavor, feel free to add honey and fruit toppings.
Throw into Oatmeal
One of the easiest ways to incorporate chia seeds into your diet is by throwing some into your oatmeal. The chia seeds will add more volume to your oats and help you stay full until lunchtime.
Store-bought granolas are packed with sugar and additives. Making your own granola allows you to add whatever ingredients you like and allows you to control how much sugar is added. Chia seeds are a great addition if you are looking to boost the nutritional value of your homemade granola.
Add into Smoothies
Smoothies are an awesome way to incorporate an abundance of nutrient-dense foods. Chia seeds are an excellent addition to any smoothie.
Toss into Pancake Batter
Boost your pancakes with an additional source of healthy fats, fiber, and protein to keep you energized throughout the day.