One of those special foods that have earned the nickname “superfood,” Chia seeds are known for some pretty awesome health benefits. Chia seeds are gluten free and a good addition for almost anyone (People who are allergic to mustard or sesame seeds may also be sensitive to chia). For the majority of us, chia seeds make some big promises. The following are some of the most common:
1 ounce of chia seeds contains 10 grams of fiber. In fact, nearly all the carbs in the chia is fiber! That is good news for our digestion, hearts, and weight. A good amount of fiber can decrease our risk for some scary things like colon cancer and heart disease. Plus, a working digestive system just helps us feel better on a daily basis.
Chia is a great source of protein. There are 5 grams per ounce! This means that in just half a cup of chia seeds, we get 21-26% of our daily protein need. Also, chia contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete source of protein.
When chia seeds are mixed with water, they absorb the liquid and form a gel. In this way, the conversion from carbs to sugar is slowed making for more lasting energy. They can help improve endurance, muscle repair, and mobility. Another advantage of the chia seeds gelling is weight loss. It keeps you full longer and decreases appetite.
Chia seeds can help prevent diabetes. These little seeds control blood glucose levels, diminish body fat, and decrease insulin resistance.
Due to the fiber and nutrients, chia acts as a natural detoxifying agent. It can cleanse our bodies of harmful things and help us feel and look healthier.
OMEGA-3 and OMEGA-6 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are so important to our health. There are very few sources of these acids besides seafood. Chia is one of them (4500mg/oz)! In fact, chia actually has more omega-3s than some fish. However, plant sources tend not to be as good as fish sources for this specific thing since omega-3s are mostly alpha-linolenic acid. This acid needs to be converted into icosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) before it’s useful to the body. Studies have found that chia increases ALA and EPA in the body but is not great for DHA, so you won’t want to completely replace your fish or fish oil with chia, but the omega-3s in chia can still do some great things. These acids can help keep our skin moisturized. (Chia also boasts other nutrients that contribute to the health of our hair and nails. A good natural way to improve your appearance.)
Chia seeds are also an excellent source of omega-6 fatty acids, boasting 24-34% of the daily recommendation.
VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Chia has an impressive nutrient profile. Here are some highlights (the percentages are based on the recommended daily value for each nutrient). A half a cup of chia seeds is considered to be an “excellent” source of the following:
- Thiamin -This vitamin is a key player for metabolism and chia provides 0.4mg/half cup (33.3%).
- Niacin – Chia contains 6.3mg/half cup (39.4%) of niacin which plays a crucial role in several systems in the body.
- Calcium – Chia is higher in calcium than any other grain on this website. A half cup contains 34% of our daily need for calcium. And we all know what that means for our bones and teeth!
- Zinc – Such a cool mineral, zinc plays a role in our immune systems and the creation of proteins and DNA. Chia boasts 2.5mg/half cup (22.7%).
- Copper – We don’t need much copper but a little is necessary for our tissues, the creation of red blood cells, and the upkeep of nerve cells, and the function of the immune system. A half cup of chia contains a third of all the copper we need in a day.
- Iron – Iron deficiency is no picnic. It’s so important to get enough iron. Chia is a great plant source of iron, coming in at 5.5mg/half cup (30.6%).
- Magnesium – This mineral is a jack of all trades and plays a role in muscles, nerves, blood sugar and pressure, bones, and DNA. It’s not something we want to be without. Chia seeds have the second highest magnesium content of the grains on this website, with 239.3g/half cup (57%).
- Phosphorus – Another great one for metabolism and the skeletal system, phosphorus is one of chia’s brightest stars. A half cup provides 53% of the daily need for this mineral, second only to hemp hearts.
- Manganese – Last but not least, chia is an excellent source of this little vitamin so essential for bones, healing, and the use of carbs and amino acids. A half cup of chia provides 1.5mg. This may not sound like much, but it’s 65% of what we need!
Chia seeds are super easy incorporate in non-invasive ways. They can be thrown into a baked good or smoothie, used to make pudding, sprinkled on a salad or yogurt. They have so many health benefits, you’ll be glad you gave them a try.