Chia seeds are small-sized seeds that the plant Salvia Hispanica gives, originally coming from Mexico. It is historically proven that ancient Aztecs and Mayans used chia as currency and as a serving to the gods in various ceremonies.
These ancient people also consumed chia seeds and used them for medicine purposes such as treating sore throats, colds, wounds, body odors, prostate problems, constipation, upset stomachs as early as 3500 BC.
Aztec warriors believed that 1 spoonful of chia can keep their strength for 24 hours and they consumed it to give them energy and endurance. Interestingly, in the Mayan language chia meant strength and the seed was used as food for runners and warriors.
Nowadays, chia seeds are very popular as they are easy to digest if there is a proper preparation. They are particularly popular because they are full of nutrients and are considered energy boosters.
You can eat them raw, add them to baked goods, puddings, or porridge, you can soak them in a prepared juice or sprinkle them into your favorite breakfast, yogurt, or salad. Easily available in the stores, chia seeds can also be added to sauces because they absorb fat and water in food.
Here are 11 the most important proven benefits of consuming these seeds:
- The power of fiber
Chia contains big amounts of fiber, which affects the stomach in a way that expands and absorbs a lot of water. This leads to slowing down the food absorption and weight loss. The result is – you stay full for a longer period of time! One ounce of chia seeds contains 10 grams of fiber, which is half the daily intake recommendation for women over 50.
This suggestion came by the Food and Nutrition Board of the national Institute of Medicine, which also suggested that men under the age of 50 should consume 38 grams daily, whereas women – 25 grams. Men and women over 50 should consume 30 and 21 grams a day, respectively.
- Chia empowers your digestive system
It is again because of the fiber. It helps in balancing the insulin levels, according to the National Institute of Health. This promotes bowel regularity and provides a healthy stool. With a healthy digestive tract, you will prevent constipation from happening. What happens to your body when you consume chia seeds is that a substance similar to gelatin is created in the stomach. This kind of gel acts as a prompt for the growth of probiotics.
- The power of antioxidants
It has been proven that chia seeds are one of nature’s richest antioxidants. Antioxidants stop the production of free radicals damaging the cells, and hence speed up the process of skin repair and stop skin damage that comes with aging. Thus, chia seeds’ intake can keep your skin alive and young longer than you expected.
- The power of protein
Each chia seed contains 14% protein, higher than most plants. It also contains balanced amino acids, which help with the protein digestion in our bodies. Vegetarians and vegans can make use of this high percent of protein as a supplement for meat. Luckily for you, if you have a diet high in protein, you can lower appetite and boost muscle repair.
- High amount of fiber = losing weight
What makes chia so unique is the fact that it is able to absorb 10 times of its weight in water. Consequently, chia prolongs hydration, improves nutrient absorption of electrolytes and this causes digestion to slow down. The long-wanted result is the feeling of fullness, which will keep you away from the fridge and midnight sugar-cravings. Chia also contains a lot of zinc, which increases the formation of leptin. Leptin is a hormone which regulates appetite and spending energy. In this way, chia will keep you in shape.
- Chia’s powerful Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Chia contains more Omega 3 than salmon does. These Omega 3 acids are made up of Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA). Omega 3 in chia could decrease the risk of thrombosis and arrhythmias, they can lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improve endothelial function, and even lower blood pressure.
- Chia protects your heart
It helps you because it reverses oxidative stress and inflammation, regulates cholesterol and blood pressure. Inflammation might strain blood vessels and turn into a heart disease. By consuming chia, Omega 3 ALA keep your heart healthy and in shape. The Journal Reviews on Recent Clinical Trials published an article claiming that chia helps in the prevention of coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, vasodilatation, and many other diseases.
- Chia protects your bones
Chia contains many nutrients that protect and develop the bones, including magnesium, calcium, protein and phosphorus. Surprisingly, these seeds contain more calcium and protein than dairy products, which is an excellent supplement for those who are unable to consume dairy.
- Chia’s power in treating diabetes
Eating chia can balance your sugar levels because of the richness in fiber. Based on several studies and findings, The National Institute of Medicine found that diets with 14 grams fiber for every 1000 calories reduced the risk of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The study concerning type 2 diabetes showed that chia seeds can lower blood pressure and inflammation.
- Chia can enhance exercise performance and boost metabolism
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning concluded in an article that chia improved exercise performance in 90-minute workouts. This was compared to Gatorade sports drinks consumption. It is good news for chia lovers because they will consume less sugar than usual from the sports drinks.
Other studies also show that adding chia seeds to your diet causes a reduction in visceral adipose tissue (the “belly fat” tissue). This tissue is a component of obesity.
- Chia fights breast and cervical cancer
As we previously saw, chia seeds are rich in alpha lineic acid (ALA), an Omega 3 fatty acid. In 2003, the Journal of Molecular Biochemistry found that ALA limits cancer cells growth in breast and cervical cancer. ALA also causes cell death, but does not harm healthy cells. This is a great discovery especially for women struggling with breast cancer.