Chia seeds are definitely among the most popular superfoods on Earth these days. I am not exaggerating – there are 5 health benefits to prove it.
The most commonly used chia seeds come from the plant Salvia Hispanica. Native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala, these small oval seeds are originally grown (not GMO) and are gluten free.
No wonder why they are so popular and preferred by modern day health conscious people around the globe. Everyone finds whatever they need in chia seeds – weight loss aid, heart support, Type 2 Diabetes aid, excellent source of Calcium for those who don’t eat diary products, etc…
Some of their most important benefits are their extremely fiber rich content, their ability to absorb up to 10 times their weight in water, and are slow to digest. The last one is very important for controlling your appetite and food cravings, cause slow digesting actually makes you feel full longer.
So far I just marked some of the most important health benefits of chia seeds. Let’s get into more details about this amazing superfood:
! Reminder: 1 gram or fat equals 9 calories, 1 gram of carbs and proteins equal 4 calories!
1 ounce of chia seeds (28 grams) equals 145 calories, but if we subtract the calories from fiber, which most likely don’t get used by the body, we get as low as 101 calories per 1 ounce of chia seeds. Fantastic, isn’t it?
That being said – 101 calories per 1 ounce, rich in fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids, originally grown, non-GMO product, that is a whole grain food and free of gluten – make these tiny little seeds called Chia almost miraculous.
As we already cleared that 1 ounce of Chia seeds contains 12 grams of carbohydrates, 11 grams of which are fiber that doesn’t get digested by the body. That leaves only 1 gram digestible carbs per 1 ounce of chia seeds, which makes them extremely low carb food – one of the best in the world.
Chia seeds are such a rare and fiber rich food – nearly 40% of their own weight is fiber. That means that can adsorb huge amounts of water inside your body (around 10 times their own weight), which means they turn into gel-like liquid inside your stomach, thus expanding it and making you feel full longer.
This gel-like liquid inside your stomach, formed by the chia seeds, slows food absorption, thus you eat less calories, which aids healthy eating and weight loss.
The high amount of antioxidants in chia seeds fight the production of free radicals, which are quite destructive to cells and lead to aging of cells and worse – cancer.
A great alternative and an excellent source of high quality protein for people who eat less or no proteins from animal products.
Nearly 14% of chia seeds own weight is protein, which is quite impressive compared to other plants.
They also contain a good number of essential amino acids, which are quite beneficial for the body .
Supplying your body with such a high protein food intake, chia seeds in fact reduce your appetite and food cravings in general, especially the desire for night time snacking, which sounds just perfect to me 🙂
They contain the Omega-3 fatty acid ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid), which is not as beneficial as the DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) – the most important Omega-3 fatty acid.
ALA should be transformed into DHA before being used by the body, but unfortunately human bodies are not that good in turning the one type of acid into the other, so this benefit of Chia seeds is actually not so essential, although very widely advertised.
! Note that chia seeds only by themselves won’t miraculously aid all of the above !
But in combination with other factors such as healthy diet and moderate physical activity, smart food and lifestyle choices, it is possible to improve some of these risk factors.
Unlike flax seeds, Chia seeds don’t need to be ground, which makes them much easier to prepare and/or add to almost any food you eat.
I’ve used them as well – mostly soaked in water, or as an additive to my home baked bread. Recently I ran out of chia supplies and now as I am writing this I remind myself to restore them 🙂