Chia seeds are popping up in health stores and supermarkets in the past few years. It’s the trendy seed to add to your breakfast, especially in smoothies and cereals, make into pudding, and even bake into bread. It’s also a popular weight-loss aid that helps control hunger while enhancing the diet with super nutrients. Read more to see why many people are obsessed with these little seeds:
What is Chia?
Chia seeds are often referred to as a “superfood,” which means it’s dense in nutrients compared to other kinds of foods. It’s an edible seed that is grown in Mexico and added to Mayan and Aztec diets. These seeds are harvested from a flowering plant known as Salvia hispanica, which is native to Mexico and Guatemala. Chia seeds are naturally black or white in color. It has been popular only in recent years, but it’s one of the oldest forms of nutrition.
The mild flavor of chia makes it easy to add to any food and beverages. Usually, chia seeds are sprinkled on oatmeal, rice dishes, yogurt, cereal, sauces, or mixed into drinks. It’s also mixed with water to be made into a gel.
Benefits of Chia Seeds
The benefits of chia seeds are widely studied, including improved digestion, better heart health, boosted energy, and controlled blood sugar levels.
An ounce of chia seeds contains 139 calories, 9 grams of fat, 12 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, plus vitamins and minerals. It’s also rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. The omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds help raise good cholesterol that protects against heart disease and stroke.
It may aid in weight loss.
The desire to lose weight is probably the number one reason why people try out chia seeds. Foods rich in fiber help people feel full for longer, which leads them to eat less and lose weight in the long run. Chia seeds have about 5 grams of fiber per tablespoon, and the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids can also help weight loss. The protein in chia can also help in building muscle and burning fat.
However, evidence for chia seed’s ability to aid in losing weight is scant. There is limited data that suggests the effectivity of chia seeds for weight loss. But it surely does help in making you feel full, which counts in the diet department.
It improves digestion.
Almost all the carbs in chia are actually fiber. This means that you’ll not just stay full for longer – you can also be regular and have a healthy gut when you add chia to your regular diet. And we all know that fiber has a good effect on the gut and overall digestive health. A diet with enough fiber prevents constipation and promotes a regular bowel movement.
It promotes heart health.
Regular consumption of chia seeds can make you less likely to develop atherosclerosis, the buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in the arteries. This heart problem can cause different kinds of heart disease. A review of 67 controlled trials found that even a 10-gram daily increase in fiber can reduce bad cholesterol levels in the body.
It helps treat diabetes.
There aren’t many studies on the effect of chia seeds on insulin resistance and blood glucose levels, but a recent study suggests that chia seeds may have the ability to convert glucose into slow-release carbs. This can have a positive effect on persons with type 2 diabetes. Chia seeds can also help prevent metabolic disorders associated with the onset of diabetes, thanks to its dietary fiber and alpha-linolenic acid content.
It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for the body, decreasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest. It can also fight depression and improve sleep. Since chia seeds are rich in these fatty acids, it’s smart to add them to your diet to help decrease bad cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and support good health.
It’s an unusual source of calcium that promotes stronger bones.
Need more calcium? Chia’s got it. Chia seeds even have more calcium ounce per ounce than most dairy products. An ounce of chia seeds will give you 18% of the daily recommended calcium intake. But if you consume dairy, pair it with milk or yogurt for a healthy dose of calcium.
How to Eat Chia Seeds
For chia seed beginners, eating chia can be confusing. Do you eat it dry, or do you have to soften it first? Do you have to cook it? Here are the popular ways people consume and enjoy chia seeds with dishes and meals:
- Make a chia pudding by mixing a quarter cup of seeds in a cup of liquid, like almond milk or fruit juice. Let the seeds sit for at least 15 minutes, though chia pudding can stay on the fridge for several days. The seeds will gel up when soaked, and the mixture will no longer be watery. Then, the pudding will be ready to eat. Since chia doesn’t have much flavor, add some fruits, nuts, spices, or any toppings you like.
- Raw chia seeds can be sprinkled on oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, cereals, salads, and rice dishes. When you add the seeds to a “wet” dish or a drink, the seeds will slightly swell up, but it will retain a slight crunch.
- Chia seeds can be added to baked goods like bread and muffins for added fiber and nutrition.
- Chia seeds make an excellent replacement for eggs when vegan baking. To do this, mix a tablespoon of chia seeds with three tablespoons of water, and let it sit for a few minutes. It forms a gel that can be used instead of eggs when baking.
Potential Risks When Consuming Chia Seeds
Believe it or not, chia seeds can absorb up to 27 times its original weight in water. If you have problems with swallowing, avoid eating chia seeds dry. These seeds can expand while in your esophagus, causing obstructions, especially when you wash it up immediately with a glass of water. Let it soak in liquid or wet food for at least 15 minutes first, so that the seeds have expanded first before consuming. After eating raw chia seeds, it can also absorb liquids inside your digestive tract and belly and might leave you feeling dehydrated if you drink scarcely.