Chia seeds are undoubtedly one of the most popular superfoods amongst health foodies everywhere. While these seeds are tiny, they are filled with lots of nutrients that are beneficial for heart health, bone strength, and management of blood sugar.
These versatile seeds are not only incredibly healthy, they can also be eaten in many different ways. In this article we’ll discuss all the incredible health benefits that these tiny seeds offer as well as some great ways to implement them into your diet!
What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are the seeds of the Salvia hispanica plant, a member of the mint family. The seeds are typically black or white and are native to Mexico and Guatemala, though they are now grown in many areas of the world including some parts of the United States, Argentina, and Australia.
With a long history of use that goes all the way back to Mesoamerican cultures such as the Mayans and Aztecs, these small seeds are bound to be one of your favorite health foods.
Health benefits of chia seeds
Packed with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fiber, and protein, these tiny seeds are filled with nutrients and have many beneficial qualities that improve any diet that you incorporate them into.
Some of the health benefits of chia seeds include:
- Supporting digestive health
- Brain boosting nutrients
- Strengthening bones
- Reducing inflammation
- Improving heart health
- Fueling your energy
Chia seeds and digestive health
As an excellent source of fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, chia seeds are extremely beneficial for your digestive health. Getting enough fiber in your diet can help to prevent certain diseases such as colorectal cancer and generally improve your digestive health. Insoluble fiber acts to clear foods through your digestive system and can help with digestive struggles such as constipation.
The recommended amount of daily fiber intake is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men, though aiming a little higher than these numbers is especially encouraged.
Brain boosting benefits of chia seeds
Chia seeds are not only high in omega-3 fats, which are beneficial for brain health, but are also rich in magnesium. Magnesium is a critical brain boosting element often associated with reducing anxiety and depression.
Chia seeds and bone strength
Magnesium isn’t the only mineral that chia seeds are rich in, they also contain a high amount of calcium and phosphorus. These three minerals are all incredibly important for bone strength and can help with improving bone density.
Chia seeds and inflammation reduction
Chronic inflammation can make the body prone to many diseases, including autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, heart diseases, and type 2 diabetes. Research has shown that the omega-3 fat ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid) may be especially effective in reducing inflammation in people struggling with metabolic syndrome and similar diseases.
Chia seeds and heart health
Once again due to their high amount of healthy fats like ALA, chia seeds are great for heart health. They also contain many antioxidants including quercetin, which may help reduce risk of heart disease.
The high amounts of fiber contained in chia seeds are also beneficial in reducing high blood pressure, another factor that determines cardiovascular health.
Chia seeds and energy
Historically used by Aztec warriors to fuel their power and energy, chia seeds are a great source of energy with their high amounts of omega-3s, fiber, and protein. They are also incredibly beneficial as post-workout recovery snacks for athletes and individuals who exercise on a regular basis.
No matter what you eat chia seeds to help with, you’re bound to get a lot of extra benefits with it. Other benefits of chia seeds include:
- Regulation of appetite and sleep
- Improvement of mood
- Support weight loss
Best ways to eat chia seeds
Now that you know some of the many ways in which chia seeds can be your health food best friend, how do you implement them into your diet?
Chia seeds are great for snacking and can be included in many of your favorite foods! Some of the best ways to include chia seeds into your diet are:
- Chia seed pudding
- Baked goods
Have a favorite breakfast smoothie but want to add just a little more nutrients to it? A tablespoon of raw chia seeds or chia gel can add a lot of texture and nutrients to any of your favorite fruit or veggie smoothies.
Interested in a dessert smoothie? A common favorite and surprisingly nutritious smoothie loved by many is a chocolate almond and chia seed smoothie. Sweet and saturated with nutrients, it can be a great treat in the morning or evening!
Chia seed pudding
One of the most recognizable ways to eat chia seeds, chia seed pudding makes for a great breakfast food. It’s delicious and packed with nutrients and can make for a delicious breakfast or lovely after dinner dessert.
All you need is milk or a milk alternative, chia seeds, and a flavor of your liking. Some common flavors for this great dish include vanilla, cinnamon, lemon zest, and maple syrup.
Another breakfast favorite, boost your favorite granola recipe with a cup of chia seeds incorporated in or add it into granola and yogurt for an extra delicious treat.
While some people love the gelatin-like texture of chia seeds, others can’t stand it. If you’re one of these people, try adding chia seeds to some of your favorite baked goods. Whether you make chia seed and banana muffins or bake them into a favorite bread or cake recipe, chia seeds are a great addition to baked goods.
Chia seed gel also makes for a great egg alternative. Substitute one egg with 1 tablespoon of chia gel mixed with 3 tablespoons of water for a great vegan alternative.
Whether you buy chia seeds in bulk at your local health food store, or buy as you need them in a mainstream grocery store and toss them into your favorite baked goods or granola, you’re bound to fall in love with these tiny superfoods!