15 Reasons Why You Need to Eat More Chia Seeds (Number 8 is Amazing)

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

When someone starts talking about chia seeds, do you think about those little terra cotta animals that get covered in chia seeds and sprout “fur”?  Many people do think about chia seeds that way, but nowadays chia seeds are better known for their healthy omega-3 fats, fiber, and other nutritional benefits.

Chia seeds actually come from a plant that is native to Guatemala and Mexico. It’s believed that the Aztecs ate great quantities of these seeds, but was mostly unheard of anywhere outside of Mexico until a researcher began to study these seeds about 30 years ago.

Although there has not been a great deal of research into these seeds, what we do know about them is absolutely amazing. Chia seeds can come in white, black, or dark brown colors but don’t be fooled. Red seeds are immature chia seeds and don’t have all the nutritional benefits of mature chia seeds. Also, black seeds that are smaller than other chia seeds are most likely the seeds from various grasses and weeds and not chia seeds. Always buy your seeds from a reputable source.

These little seeds have so much to offer us, it’s almost a crime to not be eating more of them. Keep reading and find out the big band these tiny seeds have to offer.

 

1.  Regulate Almost Everything

Chia seeds are high in an amino acid called tryptophan. You have probably heard of this amino acid every Thanksgiving as turkey meat is also high in this compound. Yes, it can make you feel sleepy, but this is because it gives you a feeling of well-being. Tryptophan regulates your moods, sleep patterns, appetite, and much more. Chia seeds will help you feel full quickly and keep you feeling that way. Since they are pretty much tasteless, why not add them to just about everything?

 

2. Lots of Nutrients – Very Few Calories

Related to the mint family, these tiny seeds come from the native plant salvia hispanica, which grows in Mexico and South America. Both the Mayans and Aztecs prized these seeds for their nutritional makeup. In fact, the word itself “chia” is a Mayan word that means strength. These are true superfoods as they have tons of nutrition but have very few calories. Just one ounce of chia seeds (and that’s a lot of seeds) has zinc, thiamine, niacin, B2, fiber and protein, but only a tiny 137 calories and 1 gram of carbohydrates.

 

3. Speaking of Protein…

If you are a vegan, then you will definitely want to eat more chia seeds. These little black seeds have no cholesterol and a simple 28 gram serving has 4.4 grams of protein, which is about 10 percent of your recommended daily requirement. By weight, chia seeds are about 14 percent protein, which is super high when you compare this to most other plants. They also have a good balance of essential amino acids so that your body should be able to actually use the protein in these tiny seeds.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

4. Antioxidant Powerhouse

The antioxidants in chia seeds are what allow them to keep for years without going rancid and while some antioxidant supplements don’t get absorbed by the body very well, the ones found in chia seeds are super bioavailable. Antioxidants fight the body’s production of free radicals, which can damage cells and contribute to premature aging and the development of chronic diseases such as cancer.

 

5. Loaded with Phosphorus

If you want to keep your bones and teeth strong and healthy, then chia seeds are for you. One gram of chia seeds will give you 27 percent of your daily need for phosphorus. Your body uses phosphorus to build bones, teeth, cell and tissue growth, as well as repair of the same.

 

6. High Fiber – Low Carb

If you read some nutritional websites, they sometimes list them as having 12 grams of carbs. You might be thinking WOW! That’s a whole lot of carbs. What they don’t tell you, however, is that 11 of those carbs cannot be digested by the body. Fiber that does not require insulin and does not raise blood sugar should not be counted as a carb! That’s just not fair. Chia seeds slow the absorption of food in your stomach and feed the friendly bacteria in your intestines. Chia seeds are, by weight, 40 percent fiber. This would make them one of the most surprising, and the best, sources of fiber in the world.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

7.  Mad About Manganese

Although manganese isn’t as well-known as calcium or omega-3 fatty acids, it is still super important to our health. Manganese is also vital for strong bones as well as helping your body use other nutrients such as thiamin and biotin. A single serving of chia seeds (about 28 grams) contains more than 30 percent of your recommended daily intake. Find out more foods high in manganese.

 

8. Helps You Lose Weight

Many experts, as well as chia seed lovers, believe that chia seeds can help people lose weight. Chia seeds expand to 10 times their size when soaked in water, which means that eating them with a meal and drinking liquids will make them expand in your stomach as well. Since most of the fiber in chia seeds cannot be digested and makes your stomach empty more slowly, you should feel really full for a good long time after you consume them. Combining chia seeds with a healthy diet and exercise program can be a terrific addition to your weight loss efforts.

 

9.  Lowers Your Risk of Heart Disease

Since chia seeds are high in fiber, omega-3s, and protein, they can improve metabolic health. In one study, a diet loaded with soy protein, oats, nopal, and chia seeds were shown to lower bad (LDL) cholesterol as well as triglyceride levels, increase the good cholesterol in the body and reduce inflammation. Of course, consuming chia seeds alone won’t give you a strong, healthy heart or lower cholesterol levels, however, when chia seeds are added to an otherwise healthy diet and lifestyle program, they can be a super beneficial addition.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

10.  Omega-3s

Chia seeds are super high in omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, ounce for ounce, chia seeds have more omega-3s than salmon, and no concerns about mercury contamination, something that salmon fans certainly cannot claim. A one ounce serving of chia seeds has nearly 5 grams of omega-3s. Omega-3s are very important for brain health.

 

11. Super Bone Health

Since chia seeds are high in magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, calcium, and protein, this means that these tiny seeds can go a long way towards keeping your bones strong and healthy. In fact, the calcium content in particular, 18 percent of your RDA in one ounce, is very impressive. Ounce for ounce, this is higher than most dairy products and is good news for those following a vegan diet.

 

12.  Improves Performance

Settle down, guys, we mean exercise performance. Both the Mayans and the Aztecs used chia seeds to help fuel their athletic performance, especially those who were long distance runners carrying messages. Several studies show that consuming carbs, such as those in chia seeds, before an exercise or an athletic performance increases performance levels, in some cases better than many sports drinks.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

13. Health Improvements for Diabetics

Chia seeds have been shown to dramatically help those who suffer from diabetes. One study used 20 diabetic subjects who consumed either 37 grams of chia seeds or 37 grams of wheat bran for the 12 week study period. The subjects how received chia seeds saw their blood pressure drop by 3 to 6 mm/Hg and their inflammatory marker (hs-CRP) go down by an astounding 40 percent. There was a small drop in blood sugar, but nothing significant.

 

14.  Helps to Stop Cravings

Chia seeds are packed full of protein and protein has all kinds of health benefits, not all of them something you can see, but something you can definitely feel.  Diets that are high in protein have been shown to reduce overall appetite and, perhaps better still, reduce obsessive thoughts about foods and reduce cravings by as much as 60 percent! A high protein diet can also cut your desire for night time snacking by 50 percent. So it you are one of those nighttime eaters, or if you get frequent food cravings, adding chia seeds to your diet only makes sense!

 

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Reasons Why You Should be Eating More Quino

 

15. Easy to Eat

Some foods are so bulky that even though they have a great deal of health benefits, it can be difficult to eat enough of them. Chia seeds, on the other hand, are super easy to add to any diet. You can put them in smoothies, eaten raw exactly as they are (they don’t need to be ground like flax seeds do), soaked in juice, added to baked goods, salads, puddings, cereal, yogurt, rice, or vegetable dishes. Chia sees will absorb both fat and water, so you can add a handful to thicken sauce or add them to egg substitutes. Simply by adding a tablespoon or two of chia seeds to whatever you are eating or drinking will dramatically improve the nutritional value of that food. Since chia seeds have no real taste, they go well with any dish!

Chia seeds appear to be well tolerated by everyone, however, if you are not used to eating a great deal of fiber, you might find that you get some gas when you first start eating them. Start with one tablespoon a day and work yourself up to 1.5 tablespoons of chia seeds twice per day.

References:

Nature.com

Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Fasebj.org