Chia seeds have been cultivated as food since ancient times. Chia seeds are known for their high protein content (12-16%), high fiber content (10% dry weight), and rich omega-3 fatty acid concentration (up to 10%). There are two types of chia seeds widely consumed today depending on how they are processed; whole chia seeds and ground chia seed flour. Whole chia seeds are eaten raw while chia seed flour is used to make a variety of baked goods and smoothies. Because of their high nutritional value, chia seeds are often added to body products and foods as a way to enhance nutrition.
Chia Seeds Health Benefits
Because of their high fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acid concentrations, chia seeds offer many potential health benefits. Each of these benefits are detailed below:
High Fiber Content
All grains contain some amount of dietary fiber, but chia seeds are unique as they contain a much higher quantity than any other grain. In fact, chia seeds’ high level of soluble fiber makes them one of the best sources of dietary fiber in our diet. Soluble fiber binds water and forms gels, which slows down digestion and reduces blood cholesterol levels. High levels of dietary fiber may reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, constipation, and arthritis.
High Protein Content
In addition to being a great source of soluble fiber, chia seeds are also a great source of protein. A 100 gram serving of chia seeds contains approximately 15 grams of protein. The high protein content of chia seeds contributes to making them a good choice for vegetarian diets, athletes, pregnant women, nursing mothers, people who suffer from digestive issues, vegetarians, vegans, and anyone looking to increase muscle mass and lose fat.
High Omega-3 Fatty Acid Concentration
The majority of Americans do not consume enough fish per year due to its cost and the lack of time in their daily lives. Fish is also a major source of omega-3 fatty acids, however, these fats tend to be harder for the body to digest. When chia seeds are ground into flour, they release the oil present in each seed. Ground chia seed flour is easier for the body to digest and convert into usable protein. Once ingested, omega-3 fatty acids are stored in the liver where they help promote healthy joints and cardiovascular systems. Increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods, like fish, helps decrease the risk of many chronic diseases like cancer, arthritis, depression, heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Promotes Healthy Joints & Cardiovascular System
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for maintaining joint function and maintaining good circulation throughout the body. They also contribute significantly to promoting brain function, visual acuity, and normal eye development. Eating chia seeds regularly lowers your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and arthritis. Since chia seeds can easily be digested and converted into usable protein, they are a great option for vegetarians and those following a low-protein diet.
Contributes To Muscle Growth & Weight Loss
When combined with exercise, chia seeds provide an effective method for increasing lean muscle mass and losing unwanted weight. These benefits can be achieved by eating chia seeds before working out and consuming them after a workout session. Eating chia seeds right before a workout increases stamina and endurance. After a workout, chia seeds help build stronger muscles and aid in recovery. By combining chia seeds with a balanced diet, you can achieve a better physique.
Antioxidants help fight free radicals in our body. Free radicals cause damage to cells, DNA, and organs. Antioxidants are substances that prevent free radical production. Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants like Vitamin E, Beta Carotene, Caffeine, Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids, Lignans, Fiber, Protein, Tocopherol, and Essential Minerals.
Chia seeds have anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, when researchers at Arizona State University looked at the effect of chia seeds on inflammation, they found out that chia seeds effectively reduced the levels of inflammatory markers in mice.
When you start eating foods that are rich in fiber, it helps stimulate peristalsis and aids in digestion. Eating a diet rich in fiber reduces bloating, gas, constipation, and even diarrhea. Food fibers consist of complex carbohydrates and starches. Your body digests these slow acting types of carbs and starches over time. Chia seeds are a great way to add fiber to your diet.
The polyunsaturated fats contained in chia seeds have been shown to decrease bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol. Chia seeds are also packed with antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress on the heart. Oxidative stress is linked to cardiovascular disease.
Diabetes comes in two forms: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetics produce little insulin and often do not feel hungry. Type 2 diabetics make less than enough insulin and tend to become overweight. Chia seeds can improve your glucose tolerance and help control both types of diabetes. In addition to being low glycemic, chia seeds also have anti-oxidant effects.
Recipes and cooking tips of Chia seeds
Chia seed is full of omega-3 fatty acid and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and some vitamins and minerals. We’ll show you how you can incorporate chia seeds into your diet and start enjoying their amazing nutritional value today!
• 1 cup water
• 1 tablespoon chia seeds
Mix the ingredients together well; let stand for 5 minutes. You can serve the mixture immediately or keep it overnight in refrigerator.
Recipe 1: Chia Seed Breakfast
Add about 2 tablespoons of chia seeds into a bowl. Add 4 teaspoons of almond milk or any other non-dairy milk, mix them well. Top the mixture with ½ teaspoon of honey and top off with a few pieces of fruit.
Recipe 2: Chia Seed Pudding
Mix two cups of unsweetened Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup of vanilla soy milk and some cocoa powder. Mix the ingredients together well; add 3 tablespoons of chia seeds. Let the mixture chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.
Recipe 3: Chia Seed Cookies
Melt ¼ cup of butter in a pan over low heat and stir until melted completely. Add � cup of brown sugar and mix until combined. Stir in one cup of flour along with baking soda, salt and cinnamon until dough comes together. Divide the dough into thirds; roll each third into balls and place onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool thoroughly before removing from pans. Cool cookies completely before icing with cream cheese frosting.