Dating back to ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures, chia seeds have long been cultivated for their amazing health benefits. Chia seeds were considered so valuable, they were even used as currency! Fast-forward to the 21st
century... ...and it seems chia seeds are no less relevant than they were all those centuries ago. And, just because the health community has caught wind of this ancient superfood, does not mean there isn't scientific research to back them up. While you may not suddenly develop superpowers when consuming chia seeds (bummer!), you may discover a few handy health benefits and delicious ways to use them (yay!).
First, what are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are harvested from the desert plant Salvia hispanica --
native to Mexico and parts of Guatemala. This plant is actually a member of the mint family! These tiny black and white seeds naturally possess a wide range of health benefits! Here are 5 reasons to keep this ancient superfood in your pantry...
#1 -- They're loaded with antioxidants.
A team of researchers in Mexico discovered
the high antioxidant potential of chia seeds to be nearly twice as much as previously thought. Antioxidants assist in reducing the number of free radicals and cell damage in your body. Chia seeds are also wonderful food to incorporate into your diet to promote healthy skin and assist in skin cell repair.
#2 -- Chia seeds may help maintain stable blood sugar.
found chia seeds to be immensely useful in improving glucose metabolism and reducing insulin resistance. Maintaining balanced blood sugar is helpful for having steady energy and an even mood throughout the day. Due to their high omega-3 content, chia seeds are also a wonderful energy boost for long endurance exercise and can be an effective tool to use for carbohydrate loading and athletic performance. This can help reduce the need for loading up on sugary sports drinks (source
#3 -- They're rich in fiber.
Around 83% of the carbs found in chia seeds are fiber -- making them a wonderful addition to a healthy diet, particularly for those wanting to keep their carb intake low. A large portion of this dietary fiber is insoluble
fiber. Insoluble fiber provides prebiotics to feed beneficial gut bacteria, regulates insulin levels, and helps support a well-functioning digestive tract. Studies
have found that high dietary fiber intake helps to reduce the risk of many chronic illnesses. Coupled with their amazing ability to soak up water, chia seeds will also help you feel fuller for longer!
#4 -- Chia seeds are high in protein & healthy fat.
Just two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 4g of protein and 4.9g of omega-3 fatty acids. As a plant source for omega-3 fatty acids, they rate higher than the popular flax seed and also contain a favorable omega-6 to an omega-3 ratio (source
). Chia seeds are also high in essential amino acids. This all contributes to helping you feel more satiated after a meal.
#5 -- They have a superior nutrient-to-calorie ratio.
A tiny 100g serving provides the recommended daily intake of the minerals phosphorous, copper, manganese, and selenium. Furthermore, chia provides a hefty dose of many more micronutrients such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Add in the antioxidants, fiber, and omega-3s, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a more nutrient dense food source!
How To Use Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a great addition to smoothies, juices, porridge
, puddings, and even baked treats. When left to soak in water for a period of time, chia seeds absorb the water and have a gelatinous texture, similar to eggs. Therefore, chia seeds can be used in some baking recipes as an egg replacement! You can even sneak them into savory recipes for an added nutrient boost! Recipes with chia seeds:
Do you eat chia seeds? What's your favorite way to use them?