When most people think of chia seeds, they probably think about everyone’s favorite childhood decorations where they spread the seeds and watch the little sprouts grow to form some kind of humorous piece of art or character, but these tiny seeds are more useful than you would suspect in the world of health. When you take a closer look at these amazing seeds, they reveal a wide variety of uses, and a nutritional payload beyond the imaginations of the general population. If you’re asking yourself how this is possible, then you be happy to see that this article will be exploring the health benefits of chia seeds.
What Are Chia Seeds?
These seeds are a complete, or whole grain food that come from a plant called Salvia hispanica, which is very closely related to mint plants. It grows in desert climates and is thought to have once been native to areas in Central America where the Aztecs and earlier cultures lived and built early civilization. It is believed that during these time periods, chia seeds played a primary role in nutrition for these cultures. Today, science has given people a brand new look into just how useful these tiny seeds can be, and how they can be used to help you reach your health goals.
What Is in A Seed?
Chia seeds have attributes that make them a valuable nutrition resource. Even though they are only usually 1 millimeter in size, the fats that they are composed of can change into a more viable nutrient source with some small changes to its environment. They are said to be highly sensitive to expose to moisture and can absorb up to 11 times their weight in liquids. When they are wet they develop a mucilaginous outer layer that can be used in a variety of ways.
General Nutrition Facts
According to several research organizations like USDA and Nutritiondata.com, a serving size or roughly 28 grams of chia seeds contains just a little under 140 calories, 9 grams of fat, 13 grams of carbs, 11 grams of fiber, and 6 grams of protein. Chia seeds don’t contain any kind of sugar, so they are generally a safe food to include in diabetic diets. If you are trying to watch your salt very closely however, you might want to take note that there 5mg of salt in one serving size, although this is likely to be negligible for most people.
Interestingly enough, even though these seeds have many uses and contains a wide range of useful chemicals that can be utilized by the body, chia seeds have no known medicinal or synergistic reactions and side effects. This will be great news for people with sensitivities to certain food sources, but you should always use caution when adding a new type of food to your diet. You might even want to take a formal test to determine if you have a chia allergy.
Now for the primary health benefits of chia seeds.
1. They are Gluten-Free
Chia seeds are completely gluten free. If you’ve been looking for something to augment your gluten free lifestyle, then chia seeds could be a great addition for you. They are also normally non-GMO, so you have less of a chance that you’ll end up including seeds that could cause you to go outside of your diet. Just be sure to check the labeling to learn of their origin.
These seeds make great ingredients for gluten-free breads, muffins, snack mixes and granola bars. They are very neutral in flavor so you won’t have to worry about them changing the taste of your snack foods. When you eat your muffins, they will have a fancy feeling to them with a light crunch that can make even the most snobbish muffin connoisseur happy to have a bite.
2. They Help to Control Blood Sugar
Did you know that chia seeds can help you to control your blood sugar? These seeds can help your body to fight insulin resistance. The makeup of chia seeds causes the body to process foods into sugars more slowly. This results in a more stable form of sugar that the body can use for fuel and repairs. Surprisingly, this also creates a cyclical relationship that leads to a healthier balance of hormones.
3. You Can Eat Chia Seeds Whole
As more and more research becomes available, people everywhere are beginning to abandon flax seeds as their primary seed for health and protein. As it turns out, chia seeds can be prepared in different ways, but can even be eaten whole. Due to their size, they don’t need to be ground up to be usable or pulverized in any way to be included in a host of delicious recipes.
This means that you can try placing these awesome seeds into puddings, and even your favorite condiments to boost the nutritious power of your favorite snacks and side dishes. When they sit in liquid for a bit their texture will change so you might want to wait until you are ready to eat to add them, but if that’s something you like then you’re in for a treat and you can just go ahead and add them at the beginning.
4. The Nutrients Can Replace Eggs
Chia seeds have the interesting ability to replace eggs in baking recipes. When soaked in liquids, the seed coating of chia seeds turns into a substance that resembles the consistency of egg whites. This gel is extremely nutrient rich, and can lower cholesterol. This is an excellent additive for anyone who may be considering pursuing a vegan lifestyle, as it will open a door to an abundance of delicious and completely natural baked goods that would not be possible otherwise.
If you are interested in trying this egg replacement recipe, it’s very simple. All you have to do is put 2 tablespoons of chia seeds in 3 ounces of water and let it sit for around 20 minutes. There are a number of recipes available that can show you how to make some great tasting cookies and cakes from this amazing discovery.
5. They Make You Feel Fuller
Much of the food today is loaded with unnatural chemicals, preservatives, and as a consequence, will often lack the nutritional content that the human body needs to function in a healthy more balanced way. Studies have shown the food with a more balanced and available nutritional content tend to help people to feel more full after they’ve eaten, and reduces the chances that they will snack, or eat more foods that are low in this precious content. Adding chia seeds to meals, smoothies, and other forms of meal supplement or replacement can help you to fulfill your dietary needs while rounding out your delicious food.
You can try adding a few tablespoons of the seeds to your favorite salad to give it a nutrient rich power punch. If you let it sit and the seeds begin to get a gel texture then that will bulk up your salad as well. This can help you to be more successful when you are trying to increase the amount of vegetation in your diet.
6. High in Fiber Content
In the world of health, high fiber is mostly associated with bowel regularity. This is an extremely important function of the high fiber foods we eat, because buildup of any sort of material in the intestines can lead to serious infections, obstructions and a lot of other very unpleasant conditions that can only be solved by medical intervention. The particles of waste can also form small pockets in the in the intestine and lead to other even more serious issues if the intestines were to be pierced or rupture in some way. Keeping a consistent amount of fiber in your diet can help shield you from the possibility that you could develop one of these conditions.
You can easily add chia seeds to your favorite drinks to get a quick bit of fiber. That is why they are an excellent addition to smoothies and can help them to become more of a meal on their own.
Aside from the more obvious uses of fiber are the new scientific discoveries that have come to light. According to recent research, the soluble fiber contained in many plants can help the human body to clear the blood of free floating fats, or cholesterol by adding a good type of cholesterol to the blood stream. The good cholesterol attracts the bad cholesterol and helps it be metabolized, or carried to disposal sites.
The implication of this are massive, because this means that the introduction of chia seeds to your diet could be a serious advantage in the fight against cardiovascular disease and cholesterol. The presence of these factors has a cyclical relationship to health, blood pressure, being overweight, fatigue, and other associated conditions. This is also important because the bad cholesterol helps to ramp up inflammation in the body, which can lead to the same conditions that you will want to avoid, and make it more difficult for you to metabolize fats and gain access to stored energy.
7. A Good Source of Omega 3s
Chia seeds contain an extremely high level of polyunsaturated fats, and more than half of these polyunsaturated fats are omega 3 fatty acids. One of the most important roles that Omega 3 fatty acids play in the body is that of inflammation reduction. As mentioned before, heavy inflammation makes it easier for serious life-threatening conditions to take hold of the body. High cholesterol can put you at risk for a serious cardiac event when there is a lot of inflammation in the body because a constricted circulatory system gives the particles more places to build up and create a bottleneck that could lead to a stroke or heart attack. Being sure to include large doses of omega 3 fatty acids into your diet will help your body to fight off all sorts of inflammation that not only affects your circulatory system, but your joints as well.
If you want to add some weight to your drinks, you can use the egg replacement recipe to bring some more thickness to your favorite smoothie.
8. You Get Essential Minerals
One of the most important parts of healthy nutrition is the presence of magnesium. This mineral is responsible for the communication of a large array of biochemical signals and commands that run some of the most vital organs like the heart. It supports immune functionality, and helps to keep nerve functions. It aids with fatigue and can help excite the body and keep you feeling energized for longer periods of time. Magnesium is also known to have a pivotal role in controlling glucose levels in the blood, so this has given rise to a new volley of research studies centered around using magnesium to help improve the health of people who suffer from blood sugar diseases like diabetes. Chia seeds have been found to have very high levels of magnesium, but they also have a high level of manganese, which is yet another important mineral found in the seeds that is partially involved in the creation and maintenance of human DNA.
Deficiency in manganese over time can cause a lot of unpleasant effects such as blurry vision, sweating, heart palpitations, fatigue, and intense muscle cramps can signify that you need to find a better source of manganese. These sorts of symptoms are normally only encountered under extreme circumstances, but they are still possible in developed nations. Using chia seeds as extra ingredients to help supplement food can help to prevent encountering these symptoms.
9. There are Lots of Antioxidants
One of the greatest things about chia seeds besides their extreme nutritional payload, is that they are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are an essential part of the body’s defenses against harmful agents that come from outside the body. Antioxidants fight free radicals that cause cancer, and help to slow the aging process of the many organs of the body including the skin.
Free radicals can actually damage the DNA in humans. This can cause all manner of problems because DNA needs to be properly formed in order for the body to heal itself and create new cells. Antioxidants can protect individual cells against this kind of damage and help the body to replace old, tired or damaged cells with new healthy cells. They also help to fight various types of inflammation that can hinder the body’s process of healing. How do you think you can use chia seeds for your diet?