Chia Seeds: Nutrition facts, benefits and how to eat

Chia seeds are a protein-packed health food that forms the vital ingredients of many healthy diets. It is the black seed we get from Salvia hispanica and people have eaten them since the times of the Mayans and Aztecs.

“Chia” translates to strength in Mayan. From being a dietary staple, it is now gaining recognition as a superfood. They taste like alfalfa sprouts. They only grow in the regions between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

Chia Seeds: Nutrition facts, benefits and how to eat

What Are the Nutrition Facts of Chia Seeds?

The nutrient content in one ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds is like this:

  • Fiber: 11 grams.
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are omega-3s).
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDI.
  • Protein: 4 grams.
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDI.
  • Phosphorus: 27% of the RDI.
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDI.

You also find a good amount of vitamin B3, vitamin B1, zinc, potassium, and vitamin B2.

The best thing about this is it is only one ounce or two tablespoons. It contains 137 calories with a little (1 gram) of digestible carbohydrates. This calorie content becomes even smaller (101 grams) when you subtract the amount of unused calories in fiber.

All this makes chia seeds a great source of important nutrients.

Chia Seeds Health Benefits

Now, let’s check out the amazing benefits of chia seeds.

1. Do chia seeds really help you lose weight?

Changing your diet is the only way to lose weight. Chia seeds form the first choice of food for the weight watchers. Moving to a diet that has more nutrients and a lesser amount of carbohydrates will improve your weight shedding.

A normal intake of 28-35 grams of chia seeds will help improve the quality of your diet. It amounts to a mere two tablespoons each day. It is easy to eat chia seeds because there is no need for any elaborate cooking or preparation.

Add two tablespoons of chia seeds to a glass of water. Stir it and wait for a minute or two. Do not wait until the seeds absorb water and get swollen. Drink the water fast and that is all there is to it. The fiber in the chia seeds helps you feel satiated for a longer time.

2. Chia seeds are high in Omega-3 fatty acids

This is one of the main reasons for picking chia seeds as a health supplement food for your diet. It is comparable to flax seeds and salmon on a gram to gram basis.

The drawback with this is that it contains Alpha-linoleic acid type of omega-3 that is not so beneficial to us because humans cannot digest this. They need to undergo conversion to docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) before the body can use them.

But, since the levels of DHA are low and this is the vital ingredient in the omega-3 food supplement, nutrition experts consider chia seeds an inferior source of omega-3. It does increase the levels of ALA and EPA to a good degree, especially if we consume them in the milled form. 

3. Supportive of healthy heart function

Being rich in antioxidants, heart-healthy fats, and fiber, chia seeds are a natural choice of food for those who wish to have a healthy heart. They reduce the risk of heart disease and promote good cardiovascular health.

Chia seeds reduce inflammation that is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. Omega-3 is a useful protective element in heart health. They also reduce cholesterol and blood pressure that play an important part in heart attacks. It helps reduce belly fat.

Taking chia seeds will help reduce the insulin resistance so there is better absorption of food you eat. People with hypertension will see a reduction in their blood pressure.

This helps prevent heart disease. It is also thought that eating chia seeds will increase the good HDL cholesterol in the blood. 

4. Good amount of bone nutrients

Many of the nutrients found in chia seeds are good food for the growth and preservation of bones. This is even more than that found in comparable food items like dairy products. Eating a less amount of chia seeds gives you almost one-fifth of the dietary supplement needed for your bone health.

It has magnesium, calcium, protein, and phosphorus. Calcium is good and we get as much as 18.3% of our daily need from two spoons. The phytic acid in chia seeds helps improve calcium absorption by the bones.

Improvement in the skeletal health needs magnesium and calcium. We find both in chia seeds and help make the teeth and bones strong.

Antioxidants help prevent damage to the teeth. Another ingredient is phosphorus that helps to add strength to the bones and teeth. 

5. Chia seeds are rich in magnesium and manganese

The good amount of magnesium and manganese proves very beneficial for body health. Manganese is a vital ingredient in the treatment of epilepsy, diabetes, and arthritis.

Manganese has rich antioxidant properties. Wounds heal faster and the metabolism improves. We get 30% of our RDA of magnesium from one serving of chia seeds. 

6. Improves sleep quality

Chia seeds have a good quantity of tryptophan, an amino acid that makes hormones. This hormone produces melatonin and serotonin; two hormones that help induce sleep.

Eating chia seeds will help improve the production of these hormones that give you good sleep. Make sure you have good amounts of chia seeds twice a week at least. 

7. Relief for diverticulosis

This is a condition where we find pockets inside the intestine. There is no inflammation. We can get relief from this condition by eating chia seeds.

The rich content of fiber helps with the bowel movement. This helps better passage of food through the intestine. The improved metabolic activity helps your body get more energy and this, in turn, improves our health.

Antioxidants preserve the body cells and so our skin will develop a glow when we have chia seeds often. 

8. Chia food is rich in antioxidants

Antioxidants help prevent oxidative damage due to free radicals. Chia seeds contain high amounts of antioxidants so they prove very beneficial to our health. Antioxidants help prevent the incidence of cancer and other debilitating diseases. 

9. Rich in proteins

Proteins are the building blocks of our body. Eating enough proteins is necessary for good, health. The amount of proteins is 19% and it is of high quality.

It remains balanced with a good amount of amino acids so the body is able to make use of the proteins for repairing and building new tissue. 

10. Regulates blood sugar levels

If one eats chia seeds often, it will prove beneficial for controlling blood sugar. Diabetics can use this to keep their blood sugar under check.

Sprinkling seeds on the food items will help prevent sugar spikes in the blood. This property remains attributed to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids in the chia seeds. 

How do we eat chia seeds

How do we eat chia seeds?

While it is simple to add chia seeds to our daily diet, there are choices when it comes to using it.

  1. Powder it: This is useful when you want to add thickness to your dish. Powder the chia seeds and add it to your curry or buttermilk. Use the coffee grinder to make a fine powder. Coarse powder is useful for adding to salads and other crunchy food items.
  2. Soak it: This is simple to use. Put the needed amount of chia seeds in a bowl of water. Soaking overnight will help improve the texture and the seeds will become fully swollen. They have a gluey consistency that helps digestion. Soaked seeds will be more readily absorbed by our body.
  3. Whole seeds: Sprinkle some seeds in the morning drink or yogurt. You could add them to the smoothie you have as a mid-morning snack.

What are the side effects of eating chia seeds?

Though there are many good things, chia seeds come with their own share of side effects. The most prominent one is that of gastrointestinal problems.

It can be present in the form of bloating, hard stools, or constipation. So, make sure you start with a small amount and then increase to the needed amount over the course of one or two weeks. 

Is Chia safe during pregnancy?

Pregnant women need more nutrients. Protein, calcium, iron, and fiber are present in chia seeds. Good iron intake is necessary for the healthy development of the baby.

The omega-3 fatty acids are essential for keeping the heart healthy. Fish has omega-3 fatty acids but people don’t prefer them due to the high mercury levels. Chia seeds are useful for promoting bowel movement and giving relief from constipation.

Chia seeds reduce the sugar spikes and keep the digestion stable. We can eat it raw and so there will be no complications.

It helps oral health by promoting good teeth and keeping gums healthy. It digests easily so it gets absorbed by our body in a short time. 

Conclusion

Supplementing your diet with chia seeds is useful because it does not increase the calorie content much but provides great nutritional value. It is possible to add this to any type of dish by roasting and sprinkling them on to the food item.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3518271/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4926888/

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Anoop Sharma

About Anoop Sharma

Anoop Sharma is an IT professional, freelance health writer and creator of www.medicinalplantsanduses.com. He is passionate about helping others learn about health issues and their natural remedies, yoga and healthy food.

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