It seems impossible that such a little seed could pack such a nutrient-dense punch, but chia seeds defy the odds – probably even more so than you thought. The superfood seed is loaded with brain and heart healthy nutrients – and to no small degree. Just one ounce of chia seeds can supply more than half the calcium in a glass of milk and more than 30 percent of your required daily magnesium intake.
So what else do chia seeds bring to the table?
Here are 7 reasons you may want to start adding chia seeds to your salads, smoothies and dinner recipes:
1. Chia Seeds Are High in Powerful Antioxidants
Chia seeds are loaded with phenols, a class of powerful antioxidants that combat the free radical damage that’s associated with everything from inflammation to aging skin to cancer. In fact, a recent study found that the antioxidant capacity of chia seeds curbed free radical activity by nearly 70%. Chia seeds have been shown to be filled with more antioxidants than other plant foods, which have been known to promote heart health.
2. Chia Seeds are Packed with Protein
Weighing in with roughly 4 grams of protein per serving, chia seeds are nearly 14% protein, far higher levels than other plants and seeds. And unlike many other plant-based protein sources, chia seeds are what’s considered a complete protein, meaning they contain the nine amino acids essential for our dietary needs. On top of that, they also contain 18 of the 22 amino acids that make up various proteins, thereby helping other foods assimilate proteins required by the body.
3. Chia Seeds are Rich in Fiber
You really can’t beat the amount of fiber found in chia seeds. In only 2 tablespoons, chia seeds provide 10 grams of fiber – that’s 1/3 of the daily dietary recommendation of fiber consumption. The high fiber supply works as an appetite suppressant, fights inflammation and it is top-notch weight loss food. Add chia seeds to your morning oatmeal or overnight oats and you’re sure to stay full longer.
4. Chia Seeds are Loaded with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
You’d be surprised to learn chia seeds actually have more ALA (alpha linolenic acid) omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. Fish still proves to be one of the best sources of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) so don’t skimp on the most important omega-3s by consuming fish on a daily basis or taking a fish oil supplement to ensure you get those healthy fats. In an interview with EatThisNotThat.com, Carolyn Brown, MS, RD explained that “Chia seeds are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3s,” adding that they “can also help you lose inches.” The omega-3s found in chia seeds are heart-healthy, reducing high cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease. They also serve as brain boosters, promoting cognitive health.
5. Chia Seeds Boost Your Energy Levels
Chia seeds are packed with vital nutrients which can fuel you with the energy you need to get through the day. “Chia seeds give you stable energy because of their great ratio of protein, fats and fiber combined with the fact that they’re low-carb,” explains Brown. “They won’t cause spikes and drops in blood sugar or insulin levels, preventing cravings and overeating later.”
6. Chia Seeds Help Control Blood Sugar Levels
Remarkably, the fiber and protein content found in chia seeds can be of aid to people with diabetes. These nutrients work to regulate blood sugar, or insulin levels, through their ability to reduce the body’s resistance to insulin while decreasing unnaturally high levels of blood sugar. An article from Diabetes Self-Management shines light on a study reported on Harvard Health Blog in which 20 diabetic participants were given a type of chia seed called Salba. Results revealed this variety of the seed facilitated a regulation in blood glucose levels and reduced blood pressure. It even lowered the participants’ levels of C-reactive protein, thereby decreasing their risk for heart disease.
So How Can You Boost Your Chia Seed Intake?
The best part is that chia seeds can be added to almost any food, making the benefits listed above easy to take advantage of! Here are some simple ways to add chia seeds to your diet:
- Blend into a smoothie for added protein
- Mix into tuna salad for extra omega-3s
- Sprinkle onto your morning avocado toast or toss onto your lunchtime salad for added antioxidants
- To beat the afternoon slump, reach for a chia seed snack, such as a Chia Pod for an energy-lifting pick-me-up
- You can even add chia seeds to baked goods – check out this recipe for Hazelnut Cupcakes with Chia Pumpkin Frosting
Plus, If you are on a vegetarian or vegan diet, adding chia seeds to your meals can be a great way to bump up your daily protein intake. And if that’s not enough, you can take a chia seed supplement to ensure you’re reaping the benefits of this superfood every day. The options are endless! Enjoy!