Chia seeds may be tiny, but they are packed with important nutrients.
These small seeds come from the flowering plant Salvia hispanica, which is a member of the mint family. Chia seeds are native to central and southern Mexico and are widely considered to be the main ingredient in Mesoamerican cultures. There is evidence that the small gray-brown seeds were cultivated by pre-Columbian Aztecs.
Are Chia Seeds Good For You? In recent years, chia seeds have been popularized as “superfood” – a marketing term for ingredients and foods with remarkable nutrient density. Common superfoods include dark leafy vegetables, certain berries, turmeric, and cocoa.
The 9 benefits of adding chia seeds to a vegan diet
Chia seeds are commonly ground, stirred in, and sprinkled on healthy foods like oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt, and pudding. Made from ground chia seeds, the gel can even be used as an egg substitute in baking and pancakes.
They are both versatile and nutritious; But what are the health benefits of consuming chia seeds?
1. Nutrients vs. calories
Although chia seeds are rich in nutrients, they are extremely low in calories. Two tablespoons of the seeds – approximately 28 grams – contain 18 percent of the Recommended Daily Calcium Intake (RDI). This serving of chia seeds contains only 137 total calories.
It also contains 30 percent of the RDI of manganese and magnesium and 27 percent of the RDI of phosphorus. Chia seeds are rich in zinc, potassium and B vitamins. Overall, and calories for calories, chia seeds are an extremely efficient source of nutrients.
2. Chia seeds are high in fiber
In addition to various nutrients, a 28g serving of chia seeds contains approximately 11g of fiber. The RDI of fiber is 30 grams, and many people don’t get this recommended daily amount. High-fiber diets can lower cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. They can also regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Dietary fiber drastically reduces the risk of certain health conditions, including cancer, according to Minh Nguyen, a nutritionist registered with the Medical Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
“With fiber, you can lower your risk of colon cancer,” he said. “Also whole grain products. About three servings of whole grains a day can significantly reduce the risk of colon cancer. “
Additionally, most fiber doesn’t end up as usable calories in the body. So if you subtract the high fiber content of chia seeds, 28g contains only 101 calories.
3. Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants can prevent or delay certain types of cell damage. The exact effects of antioxidants on the body have not been confirmed. However, extensive research shows that taking it as part of a full plant-based diet can have various health benefits.
According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, chia seeds are a “potential source of antioxidants” due to the presence of chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol. It is widely believed that these substances protect the heart and liver – and have anti-aging and anti-carcinogenic properties.
4. Chia seeds are high in protein
Chia seeds are roughly 14 percent protein, which is relatively high for plant-based foods. They also contain all of the essential amino acids for human nutrition, including Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Histidine and Valine. These amino acids help build protein, build muscle and transport nutrients.
Protein is an essential nutrient for the human body. It is especially important to build and maintain body tissue. However, according to the PCRM, quality is preferable to quantity. Vegetable protein often contains less fat and cholesterol than animal protein. Many important sources of vegetable protein such as legumes, legumes, and chia seeds are also high in fiber.
5. Chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids
Chia seeds are extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids. They even contain more gram for gram than salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids have various anti-inflammatory properties and can also improve heart and brain health.
Dr. Brooke Scheller, DCN, CNS and Director of Nutrition at the food delivery service Freshly, told LIVEKINDLY that chia seeds are a great way to incorporate healthy fats into a vegan diet.
“Healthy fats are critical to blood sugar levels, which affects our stress levels,” she said. “Our brain is actually made up of ⅔ fat, a large part of which is in the form of our omega-3 fatty acids. You may have heard of these healthy fats touted for their heart health benefits or for reducing inflammation. However, omega-3 fats support the brain and improve our stress response. “
Humans are unable to synthesize the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and must include it in their diet. Chia seeds can increase blood levels of ALA for conversion to EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids for use in the body. Chia seeds are a valuable source of ALA for vegetarians and vegans, but they are best combined with additional dietary supplements.
6. Chia seeds are good for bones
Because chia seeds contain large amounts of calcium, magnesium, and protein, they also support healthy bones. Calcium is essential for healthy bones, and several studies indicate the potential benefits of long-term ingestion of chia seeds. A 25 g serving of chia contains 157 mg of calcium, which is higher than the calcium content of 100 ml of milk.
7. Chia seeds can help lower blood pressure
Several studies suggest that regular consumption of chia seeds could significantly lower blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure. The high omega-3 fatty acid content can act as a blood thinner and lower total blood pressure.
While chia seeds are safe to eat, intake should be moderated by those already taking blood pressure or sugar medication. Consumption of very large amounts of chia seeds could potentially interact with typical medications used to treat these conditions.
8. Chia seeds are good for heart health
Lowering blood pressure can also improve overall heart health, and some proponents suggest reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. In general, evidence suggests that a whole plant-based diet supports improved cardiovascular health. And high-fiber, high-protein foods like chia seeds can be extremely beneficial.
Diets high in nutritious plant foods like chia seeds have been linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.
9. Chia seeds can help regulate blood sugar
Because of the combination of fat, protein, and fiber in chia seeds, the body digests them slowly. This provides slow-release energy and can help keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. The high amount of fiber in chia seeds can slow the absorption of sugar into the blood and lower blood sugar levels overall.
Because of this high concentration of soluble fiber, chia seeds expand in the stomach. This can help you feel full longer and reduce snacking. Some health experts suggest that chia seeds can aid healthy weight loss as part of a balanced diet and in combination with exercise.
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