Don’t be fooled by the size… these tiny seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch.
A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains (1, 2):
- Fiber: 11 grams.
- Protein: 4 grams.
- Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
- Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
- Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
- Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
- They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.
This is particularly impressive when you consider that this is just a single ounce, which supplies only 137 calories and one gram of digestible carbohydrate!
Just so that we’re all on the same page, 1 ounce equals 28 grams, or about 2 tablespoons
This makes them one of the world’s best sources of several important nutrients, calorie for calorie.
To top things off, chia seeds are a “whole grain” food, are usually grown organically, are non-GMO and naturally free of gluten.
Bottom Line: Despite their tiny size, chia seeds are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. They are loaded with fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and various micronutrients.
2. Chia Seeds Are Loaded With Antioxidants
Another area where chia seeds shine is in their high amount of antioxidants.
These antioxidants protect the sensitive fats in the seeds from going rancid
Although antioxidant supplements are not very effective, getting antioxidants from foods can have positive effects on health (6).
Most importantly, antioxidants fight the production of free radicals, which can damage molecules in cells and contribute to ageing and diseases like cancer
Bottom Line: Chia seeds are high in antioxidants that help to protect the delicate fats in the seeds. They also have various benefits for health.
3. Almost All The Carbs in Them Are Fiber
Looking at the nutrition profile of chia seeds, you see that an ounce has 12 grams of “carbohydrate.”
However… 11 of those grams are fiber, which isn’t digested by the body.
Fiber doesn’t raise blood sugar, doesn’t require insulin to be disposed of and therefore shouldn’t count as acarb.
The true carb content is only 1 gram per ounce, which is very low. This makes chia a low-carb friendly food.
Because of all the fiber, chia seeds can absorb up to 10-12 times their weight in water, becoming gel-like and expanding in your stomach
Theoretically, this should increase fullness, slow absorption of your food and help you automatically eat fewer calories.
Fiber also feeds the friendly bacteria in the intestine, which is important because keeping your gut bugs well fed is absolutely crucial for health
Chia seeds are 40% fiber, by weight. This makes them one of the best sources of fiber in the world.
Chia seeds contain a decent amount of protein.
By weight, they are about 14% protein, which is very high compared to most plants.
They also contain a good balance of essential amino acids, so our bodies should be able to make use of the protein in them
Protein has all sorts of benefits for health. It is also the most weight loss friendly nutrient in the diet, by far.
A high protein intake reduces appetite and has been shown to reduce obsessive thoughts about food by 60% and the desire for night time snacking by 50%
Chia seeds really are an excellent protein source, especially for people who eat little or no animal products.
6. Chia Seeds Are High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Like flax seeds, chia seeds are very high in Omega-3 fatty acids
Plant Omega 3 is converted by the body to EPA and DHA only as and when the body needs it unilke fish oil which is easy to overdoes on resulting in thinning blood and bleeding problems
7. Chia Seeds May Improve Certain Blood Markers, Which Should Lower The Risk of Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes
Given that chia seeds are high in fiber, protein and Omega-3s, they should be able to improve metabolic health.
Rat studies have also shown that chia seeds can lower triglycerides, raise HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and reduce inflammation, insulin resistance and belly fat
8. They Are High in Many Important Bone Nutrients
Chia seeds are high in several nutrients that are important for bone health.
This includes calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and protein.
The calcium content is particularly impressive… 18% of the RDA in a single ounce.
Gram for gram, this is higher than most dairy products.
9. Chia Seeds Can Cause Major Improvements in Type 2 Diabetics
The most successful application of chia seeds to date was in a study on type 2 diabetic patients
In this study, 20 diabetic patients received either 37 grams of chia seeds, or 37 grams of wheat bran, for 12 weeks (27).
When they got the chia seeds, they saw improvements in several important health markers.
Blood pressure went down by 3-6 mm/Hg and an inflammatory marker called hs-CRP went down by 40%. A risk factor called vWF also decreased by 21%.
There was also a small drop in blood sugar, but it wasn’t statistically significant.
Given that chia seeds are high in fiber, it does seem plausible that they could help reduce blood sugar spikes after meals, but this needs to be confirmed in studies.
11. Chia Seeds Are Easy to Incorporate Into Your Diet
Okay, this last one is not a health benefit, but important nonetheless.
Chia seeds are incredibly easy to incorporate into your diet.
The seeds themselves taste rather bland, so you can add them to pretty much anything.
They also don’t need to be ground like flax seeds, which makes them much easier to prepare.
They can be eaten raw, soaked in juice, added to porridge and puddings, or added to baked goods.
You can also sprinkle them on top of cereal, yogurt, vegetables or rice dishes.
Because of their ability to absorb both water and fat, they can be used to thicken sauces and even used as egg substitutes in recipes.
They can also be mixed with water and turned into a gel.
Adding chia seeds to recipes will dramatically boost the nutritional value.
They do also seem to be well tolerated… but if you’re not used to eating a lot of fiber, then there is a possibility of digestive side effects if you eat too much at a time.
A common dosage recommendation is 20 grams (about 1.5 tablespoons) of chia seeds, twice per day.
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