If you had asked me what chia seeds were a couple of years ago, I probably would have assumed that they were the things you put on those plastic heads that grew grass (You remember those commercials from the 90s).
A few years, a new job, and a massive lifestyle change later, the superfood craze is probably bigger now than it ever was and I’d even bet that you’d now be hard-pressed to find someone that doesn’t know what they are, even if the only explanation they’re able to offer is that they’re “some sort of health food thing”.
But they’re so much more than that! They’re incredibly versatile, they’re virtually tasteless, and they’re so good for you that it’s no wonder they’re labeled as a superfood. Here’s what you’re really getting when you invest in a bag of these magical little seeds, or rather:
Why Are Chia Seeds Worth Eating
Chia seeds are nutrient-dense and packed with antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, which can support heart health and digestion. Their ability to absorb water and expand can promote a feeling of fullness, aiding in weight management.
Additionally, they are versatile and easy to incorporate into a variety of meals, making them a convenient choice for boosting nutritional intake.
Full Of Nutrients
Especially when you consider how small they are. Just a one-ounce serving (which works out to be able two tablespoons) has 11 grams of fiber, four grams of protein, and nine grams of fat (five of which are the healthy Omega-3 kind). That single ounce also carries:
- 18% of your calcium RDA.
- 30% of manganese RDA.
- 23 % of magnesium RDA.
- 27% of your RDA of phosphorus.
And a bunch of other things your body needs like Zinc, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Thymine (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B2, and potassium.
This is coming from one ounce. There aren’t many foods that carry that much of a nutritional punch. If that’s still not enough reason to consider adding them to your diet, keep reading.
They Carry Very Few Calories
That one-ounce serving that we just talked about? The one that was full of a whole lot of everything you need in a day anyway – That serving is only 137 calories (and a gram of digestible carbohydrate). However, if you consider that the body may not use the calories from the fiber, the calorie count drops to only 101 calories. Per ounce! This is especially wonderful news for those who depend on calorie counting when it comes to watching their waistline.
They’re also naturally gluten-free, they’re generally grown organically and without the use of GMOs (which in itself is becoming harder and harder to find these days, isn’t it?), and they’re a natural whole grain food – Basically, they can (and absolutely should) be added to just about every diet.
A Ton Of Antioxidants
The antioxidants in these magical seeds help prevent them from turning rancid, but that’s certainly not their only benefit. They also fight the production of free radicals in your system so that they’re unable to damage the molecules of your cells.
You’ve probably read somewhere that antioxidants are moot and useless – That may be true as far as supplementation goes, however, as our ancestors have always known, food really is the best medicine.
I remember reading somewhere that chia seeds actually pack more antioxidants than blueberries do, but I can’t seem to find a study of any kind that proves that. In any case, they’re definitely there, and you’ll benefit from them if you incorporate the chia seeds into your diet.
Chia Seeds Carbs Come From Fiber
Looking at the nutritional information for chia seeds, you’ll notice that there are 12 grams of carbohydrates. You’ll also notice that I already mentioned that these seeds only have one gram of digestible carbs – That’s because 11 of the grams of carbohydrates in chia seeds come from fiber.
You see, fiber doesn’t raise your blood sugar when you eat it, and therefore shouldn’t be considered when you’re counting carbs. That means that if you’re on a low-carb diet such as the Akins diet or similar, you can still happily eat chia seeds without worry.
Good For Your Gut Health
That fiber we were just talking about? It allows the chia seeds to absorb up to 10-12 times their weight in water (which will obviously make you feel more full, and in turn, you’ll automatically ingest fewer calories).
But that’s not all – Fiber feeds all the healthy bacteria in your gut. A well-fed and healthy gut is a happy gut and is one of the most important factors when it comes to keeping yourself and your family in good health.
Chia seeds are 40% fiber by weight, making them one of the best sources of natural fiber available.
Lower Your Risk Of Heart Disease
And Type II diabetes because they’re high in fiber, protein, and Omega-3 fatty acids. That said, don’t think that simply incorporating these wonderful little seeds into your diet will be a magic cure-all – It’s not. For them to have a super significant impact on heart disease, inflammation, and other chronic conditions, they’ll have to be used as a small part of a bigger lifestyle change.
The fiber in chia seeds might help out diabetics the most since the high fiber content of them should help keep their blood sugar levels from spiking.
Excellent Pre-Workout Carbs
Are you someone who religiously takes your Gatorade bottle with you any time you head for the gym? You probably already know that Gatorade and other similar sports drinks are loaded full of sugar, which is why you might want to consider replacing that bottle with some chia seeds instead. A study was conducted in 2011 where 6 participants “carb loaded” with either solely Gatorade or a mix of the popular sports drink and some chia seeds – They then ran on a treadmill for an hour. Then they did a timed 10km run: At the end, there was no difference in performance.
That means chia seeds are a perfect carb-loading snack before a run or workout.
Good For Bone Health
We’ve been talking a lot lately about different ways to strengthen your bones, and incorporating chia seeds into your everyday diet is another way that you can better your bone health. In fact, chia seeds pack more calcium, magnesium, protein, and phosphorus than most dairy products do (gram for gram, anyway) – That makes them a perfect addition to vegan diets or any other diet that tends to lack in the calcium department.
I think that all women need to start eating chia seeds, if only for this benefit alone – Our bones need all the help we can get as we age.
Incredibly High In Protein Content
When you consider that they’re not meat. Vegetarianism and Vegan diets are absolutely healthy when they’re done properly. Because a lot of people tend to be uneducated, a lack of protein in the diet can actually make you sick and may even cause you to gain weight. In contrast, a high-protein diet can reduce obsessive eating behaviors by as much as 60%.
Whether you eat meat or not, chia seeds should make an appearance on your plate every once in a while.
Easy To Work Into Just About Everything
Chia seeds really don’t have much of a taste at all, which means you can put them into just about anything to get the nutritional benefits out of them without really altering the flavor of your dish (although you’ll still have to deal with the texture of seeds). They also don’t have to be ground up before you use them, making them a more convenient alternative to flax seeds. Stay tuned for a follow-up article that’ll give you an extensive idea of all the different things that chia seeds can be used in.
How Much Chia Seeds Should I Eat?
Eating 20 grams (one and a half tablespoons) of chia seeds twice a day seems to be the going rate if you want to get the most out of these magical little seeds.
However, suppose you’re someone who eats virtually no fiber at all. In that case, you might want to consider starting with maybe a teaspoon or so twice a day until your tolerance builds up to decrease the likelihood of you experiencing any digestive issues.
Generally, I’m not a huge fan of the term superfood – It’s become a word that’s used entirely too loosely and is now used to describe all kinds of things. That said, I truly do believe that chia seeds are one of the few and far-between foods that do, in fact, deserve that title, and I hope that after reading this article, you’ve decided to incorporate them into your diet.