What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are edible black seeds from the chia plant which is scientifically known as Salvia hispanica.
The chia plant is a flowering plant in the sage family and is native to Mexico, Guatemala, and used to be the staple food for the ancient Aztecs. The word ”Chia” means strength in the ancient Mayan language.
The seeds are oval in shape, gray with black and white spots. They have a diameter of around 2 millimeters with hydrophilic abilities as they can absorb up to 12 times their weight of liquid when soaked.
Dried chia seeds contain about 6% water, 42% carbohydrates, 16% proteins, and 31% fat. This makes them excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, iron, and calcium.
From 100 grams ( 3.5 ounces) of chia seeds you get 486 calories, 34. 4 grams of fiber, 16.5 grams of proteins, 42.1 grams of carbs, 30.7 grams of fat, and no sugar.
The nutrients in chia seeds contribute to the many health benefits. Chia seeds may help you lose weight, lower the risk of heart disease, improve bone health, reduce blood sugar levels, and many others as we shall discuss in the next section.
What are the health benefits of chia seeds?
Chia seeds can aid weight loss.
Chia seeds have got a huge amount of fiber that adds up to more than 80% of the carb content present in the seeds. The high amount of fiber in chia seeds makes them great for weight loss.
Foods that are high in fiber take longer to be digested and can keep you satisfied for longer. This helps to overcome cravings. Fiber also makes one get satisfied much quicker making them eat less food thus fewer calories.
The healthy proteins in chia seeds also help to reduce appetite thus fewer calories consumed due to a reduced food intake.
You can also read about the best spices for weight loss.
Chia seeds are anti-inflammatory.
Chia seeds have antioxidants that can help reduce chronic inflammation. Although inflammation helps the body to heal and fight off viruses, it can sometimes damage healthy cells, tissues, and organs causing chronic diseases to the body.
However, in chia seeds are antioxidants that can reduce inflammatory responses.
Chia seeds can prevent constipation.
Chia seeds are rich in fiber which is known to ease and promote digestion. The insoluble fiber in chia seeds can turn into a gel when it gets in contact with water. When the insoluble fiber adds to your stool, it can ease bowel movements thereby relieving constipation.
Getting enough fiber in your meals can help promote proper digestion and prevent constipation. Learn more about gut health from the article: Herbs and spices for gut health.
Chia seeds may lower the risk of heart disease.
In chia seeds are fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids that can help reduce the risk of heart disease. An increased intake of fiber has been known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
The presence of omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds can also help lower blood cholesterol and prevent coronary heart disease in the process.
Although your body needs cholesterol to help the liver to function, too much cholesterol can clog the arteries leading to the heart causing heart disease and other unhealthy conditions.
Eating foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids can help lower cholesterol levels for good health.
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Chia seeds are good for the bones.
In chia seeds, there are nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and proteins. These nutrients can strengthen your bones.
Chia seeds can improve blood sugar levels.
Chia seeds have an effect on blood glucose and insulin resistance. According to a study by PubMed, chia seeds can reduce blood glucose and have the ability to convert glucose into a slow-release carbohydrate that has an effect on satisfaction too.
Blood sugar control can have a positive effect on type 2 diabetes.
The high fiber content in chia seeds can also lower the risk of developing diabetes as higher -fiber meals can keep the blood sugar stable.
Great source of proteins.
Chia seeds are a great source of proteins; accounting for about 19% of their body weight. Proteins are essential to the body as they can reduce hunger, build the body, and many other benefits.
The proteins from chia seeds are healthy with all essential amino acids needed for a healthy body and immunity.
What are the side effects of chia seeds?
Chia seeds are generally healthy though they have some side effects. Below are some of the side effects of chia seeds.
Too many chia seeds can cause digestive issues.
Excessive intake of fiber can cause abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and gas. This usually occurs when the high fiber intake is not accompanied by enough hydration.
Risk of choking.
You stand a risk of choking when you are eating chia seeds since dry chia seeds can swell when they get in contact with fluids.
Some people may be allergic to chia seeds.
Although this is rare, when eaten, chia seeds may cause allergic reactions to certain people. Allergic reactions such as vomiting, diarrhea, itching of the tongue, stomach complications, and others.
May cause interactions with medicine.
Eating chia seeds might cause interactions with certain medications making it ineffective. Chia seeds might cause interactions with diabetes and blood pressure medications.
What is the healthiest way to eat chia seeds?
Chia seeds can be eaten in quite a number of ways and they are;
- Chia seeds can be sprinkled into porridge, yogurt, or breakfast cereal.
- Chia seeds can be added to smoothies.
- Sprinkle onto salads
- Make homemade fruit chia jam.
- Chia water; soak chia seeds into your drinking water for about 30 minutes.
- Chia pudding.
- Baked in bread.
Do chia seeds really help you lose weight?
Chia seeds have a high content of fiber which plays a major role in weight loss. Fiber which is found in chia seeds can keep you satisfied longer. This can help reduce cravings and the amount of food you take on your next meal.
Additionally, the fiber in chia seeds can also promote easy digestion which is also a factor for weight loss.
According to UCSF, the daily intake of fiber should be 25 to 30 grams from food and not supplements. Therefore around 5 tablespoons of chia seeds are enough for you to meet your daily requirement. This makes chia seeds worth having in your weight loss meals.
Chia seeds have also got healthy proteins that are essential for weight loss. Proteins can help reduce appetite as well as keep satisfaction longer. This will help reduce cravings making you consume fewer calories throughout the day.
However, 100 grams of chia seeds are 468 calories. This implies that they should be eaten in moderation. otherwise, they will just increase your calorie intake causing weight gain instead.
The bottom line.
The information in this article is accurate but shouldn’t be used as a substitute or alternative to a doctor’s advice. Chia seeds shouldn’t be used for medicinal purposes without the consent of doctors.
It is recommended to use chia seeds as supplements to your medicine after consultation from your doctor.
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