Chia seeds are a terrific choice if you’re looking for an easy approach to increase the amount of nutrients in your diet. The health-promoting fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, and minerals found in these small seeds make them nutritional powerhouses.
Here is everything you need to know about the advantages of these tiny but mighty seeds, as well as delicious ways to incorporate them into your diet, whether you currently add them to your overnight oats or have never heard of them.
How Do Chia Seeds Work?
Chia seeds are a herbaceous plant native to Mexico and Guatemala called Salvia hispanica, which belongs to the mint family. Chia seeds were initially grown by the Aztecs and Mayans for use in food and medicine preparation, but they have recently gained popularity because of their many health advantages.
According to Jenna Volpe, a functional registered dietitian and the owner of Whole-listic Living, LLC in Austin, Texas, some chia seeds are brownish-black in color while other varieties might be white. She claims that while chia seeds are smaller and lighter in texture than sesame seeds, they are similar in size to sesame seeds and impart a crisp and gelatinous feel to puddings, overnight oats, and beverages.
What Are Chia Seeds’ Health Advantages?
According to Volpe, chia seeds are rich in fiber, antioxidants, vital omega-3 fatty acids, and plant-based protein. In actuality, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds have 6.7 grams of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids, 9.7 grams of fiber, and 4.6 grams of protein. According to Volpe, their distinct nutritional profile can help those who want to eat more fiber, manage their blood sugar levels, improve their digestion, feel fuller after meals, and more.
Here are six chia seed advantages supported by science.
Possibly Helpful For Weight Loss/Maintenance
According to Kim Kulp, a registered dietitian, gut health nutrition specialist, and proprietor of the Gut Health Connection in Novato, California, chia seeds may help with satiety when incorporated in a meal. This might eventually support weight loss.
Chia seeds have received little attention in the literature, however one study on rats indicated that those given chia seeds shed more visceral fat than those who did not. According to Kulp, visceral fat, the kind that wraps around your organs, may make you more susceptible to diabetes and heart disease.
Could Aid in Lowering Heart Disease Risk
According to Long Beach, California-based registered dietitian and gut health nutritionist Amanda Sauceda, omega-3 fatty acids are one of the greatest fats for heart health. In fact, studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids may lower triglycerides and lower the risk of coronary heart disease. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a particular form of omega-3 found in chia seeds, may also lower the incidence of cardiovascular events, according to the author.
Increased ALA consumption on a daily basis can assist to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by 10% (and up to 20% for fatal coronary artery disease), according to a meta-analysis published in Advances in Nutrition in 2022. According to Volpe, this is due to ALA’s ability to lower blood pressure, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol as well as its anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
encourages bone health
According to Saucera, chia seeds include elements including magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium, all of which are crucial for bone health. In fact, studies show that getting enough of these nutrients is essential for building bones.
Despite the dearth of human trials, a 2018 study published in Nutrients reported that rats given a diet containing 10% chia seeds for 13 months had considerably higher bone mineral content than the control group.
May lessen oxidative stress and inflammation
Free radicals are erratic molecules that develop as a result of a cell’s chemical alterations. According to the National Cancer Institute, when free radicals accumulate, they can harm other molecules (such as DNA, proteins, and lipids) and raise the chance of developing cancer and other disorders.
According to Kulp, chia seeds have a variety of antioxidants that help shield cells from damage brought on by free radicals. These include quercetin, myricetin, and caffeic acid, among others.
According to Volpe, quercetin is a particularly effective antioxidant since it can reduce inflammation and shield cells from oxidative stress and damage. In fact, she continues, foods high in quercetin, such as chia seeds, are being investigated for their potential to halt and postpone cellular aging.
It might aid in reducing blood sugar levels.
Additionally, the soluble fiber and polyphenols included in chia seeds may act as prebiotics, feeding the beneficial gut bacteria that in turn make chemicals that protect the lining of the intestines, so enhancing gut health.
Expert-Recommended Methods for Increasing Chia Seed Intake
According to Kulp, chia seeds are simple to incorporate into yogurt, hot porridge, and smoothies. She also suggests the following delectable dishes to try:
Construct a pudding. Making chia pudding, a morning favorite (because it absorbs water and gelatinizes), is one of the most well-liked ways to consume chia, according to Kulp. In a container with a lid, combine 4 tablespoons of chia seeds, 1 cup of your preferred milk, 2 teaspoons of maple syrup or another sweetener, and 14 teaspoon of vanilla to make chia pudding. Stir well and let sit for three to four minutes, advises Kulp. She advises giving it one more stir, covering it with a lid, and chilling the pudding for at least two hours. You may then top it with any fruit you like.
Prepare some jam. According to Sauceda, you may prepare a jam with fresh berries and chia seeds that is ideal as a topping for pancakes, toast, yogurt, or ice cream. 1 cup of berries should be simmered in a pot over low heat until they soften and start to exude juices. After that, Sauceda advises turning off the heat, adding honey or other sweetener to taste, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, and letting it sit until it thickens.
Replace it with an egg. Chia seeds can be used in place of eggs in recipes for pancakes, muffins, and banana bread if you are out of eggs or would like to try an alternative, according to Sauceda. To replace one egg, combine a tablespoon of chia seeds with three tablespoons of water, and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes until a gel forms.
While adding extra fiber is healthful, Kulp warns that doing so quickly might cause gas, bloating, and other digestive discomfort. If you’re not used to consuming fiber, be cautious to introduce it gradually.
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