With today’s ever-increasing stress at work and in school, people are usually exposed to sedentary lifestyles and bad food habits. The combination of these two factors can have serious and adverse health effects on people and can even lead to deadly illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and certain cancers. It is not surprising then, that people nowadays look for different food items that can help them improve their overall health and wellness. One such food item or ingredient is chia seeds which are touted as one of the healthiest food item available in the market today. In this article, we will look at the benefits of Chia seeds.
What Is Chia: A Brief Backgrounder
Chia seeds are black seeds that are relatively small in size. Chia Seeds come from the Salvia Hispanica plant and are valued as an important and staple food item by the Mayans and the Aztecs in olden times. It was highly prized by both Mayans and Aztecs for the energy boost that the seeds can provide so much so that its name “chia” is a Mayan word that translates to “strength”. While the ancient Mayans and Aztecs may have been the first civilizations to consider chia seeds as an important food item, modern societies the world over have also acknowledged the health benefits of this plant-based food item.
Some of the Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are known as one of the healthiest foods on the planet today and for good reason. Science was able to prove that chia seeds indeed have exceptional health benefits. Listed below are some of the said health benefits:
Provides adequate nutrients with the lowest caloric content
As mentioned earlier, chia can be quite small in size but this seed can pack a punch in terms of its nutritional value. In fact, a single serving of Chia which is around twenty-eight (28) grams contains a potent mix of health-enhancing minerals and nutrients which include nine (9) grams of omega 3s from fats, four (4) grams of protein, eleven (11) grams of fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, calcium, niacin or vitamin B3, zinc, potassium, vitamin B2 and Thiamine or vitamin B1. The enumerated list of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals from the single serving of chia seeds comes from just around 137 calories, which is exceptionally impressive considering the number of nutrients an individual can get for such a small number of calories. As an icing to all of this, chia seeds are considered a non-GMO food item, usually organically grown and they are also gluten-free.
It has significant amounts of antioxidants
Aside from chia seeds being loaded with a ridiculous amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, Chia seeds also contain significant amounts of antioxidants. The antioxidants in Chia protects the seeds from being spoiled and acts as a preservative for this specific food item. While further research is needed on the exact effect of chia seed antioxidants, it is generally accepted that antioxidants can fight the development and build-up of free radicals, compounds that initiate DNA damage, advance the stages of aging and lead to certain cancers.
Carbohydrate content is mostly composed of fibers
A serving of Chia contains around 12 grams of carbohydrates. Out of the 12 grams, 11 grams are composed of fiber. Fiber is neutral in terms of blood sugar management and insulin sensitivity which means it does not really affect any of these variables. Instead, chia seeds are considered to be low in carbohydrates and can actually absorb other consumed food items by up to 12 times the weight of the chia seeds consumed. This should ideally help the individual feel more satiated and help curb hunger, prevent overeating and ultimately lessen calorie intake. Fiber also promotes the balance of good bacteria in the gut which can give individuals enhanced digestive health.
Considered as a protein of the highest quality
The protein content of chia can be considered as some of the highest quality of protein in any food item because it is quite simply a protein of significant amounts compared to other plant-based food items. These proteins are also composed of essential amino acids which means that the human body can readily use these proteins for muscle building and repair. This increased level of protein content can also give the individual the sensation of being full or satiated leading to less snacking and consumption of calories. The protein in chia seeds is also significant enough that vegans and vegetarians, people who don’t eat meat, can still get their protein requirements from this plant-based food item.
Its high fiber content can help an individual in losing weight
Evidence suggests that the protein and the high fiber content of Chia can help individuals lose weight. As stated earlier, the fiber in chia seeds can absorb food particles and expand in the gut giving an individual that satiated sensation which can lead to less hunger and cravings for food. This satiation and lessened consumption of food will obviously lead to weight loss. However, further studies are needed to establish the direct link of chia consumption to that of actual weight loss. Suffice it to say, that consuming chia together with other healthy and whole food items can greatly increase an individual’s chances of achieving weight loss.
It may help individuals prevent the development of cardiovascular diseases
Due to the high fiber content of Chia, it is highly possible that the consumption of chia seeds can lead to a decreased chance of developing cardiovascular disease. Aside from the fiber content of Chia, the omega-3s and the proteins in the said plant-based food item can also contribute to better blood circulation and flow within the bodies arteries and veins. Chia seeds can also help regulate blood pressure, another contributing factor to the development of cardiovascular diseases. With regulated blood pressure and controlled hypertension, the chances of having a heart attack and stroke are significantly decreased.