Chia seeds, obtained from Salvia Hispanica, a desert plant grown in Mexico, are edible seeds that are rich in fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, proteins, calcium, carbohydrates, minerals and antioxidants. These small black and white seeds are especially good for heart patients and those suffering from arthritis and Type 2 diabetes.
However, it is important to consume these seeds in the right manner. When consumed with milk, water or other liquids these seeds make you feel satiated and help in curbing food craving that in turn helps in maintaining weight. Rich in several micronutrients, Chia seeds also serve as energy booster and offer a number of other health benefits. As Dr. Mehmet Oz from the Oprah show puts it, “They just may be one of the healthiest things around.”
Let us have a detailed look at the various benefits offered by these nutritious seeds.
- Lower the risk of heart disease
Chia seeds are considered good for your heart as they help in lowering the bad cholesterol. As per a study dated 21st November 2012, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, chia seeds help in reducing triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels and increasing HDL, the good cholesterol. These are thus good for your heart health. The study further revealed that alpha linolenic acid, better known as ALA, present in these seeds prevents high triglyceride levels thereby lowering central obesity.
- Reduce Inflammation
Chia seeds are one of the richest sources of omega 3 fatty acids. These are particularly rich in alpha linolenic acid. The presence of these fatty acids helps in reducing inflammation. It is especially good for people suffering from arthritis as high levels of omega 3 fatty acids in these seeds helps in lubricating various joints and keeping them supple. Omega 3 fatty acids are also converted into prostaglandins that help in relieving pain. These are a good source of fiber too which again is known for reducing inflammation.
- Stabilize the blood sugar level
Studies reveal that chia seeds play an important role in regulating your insulin levels. These seeds lower the rate at which carbohydrates are digested and absorbed in the body. The soluble fiber present in chia seeds helps stabilize blood glucose level. As per a study conducted by Dr. Vladamir Vuksan from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, the blood of diabetic patients who consumed chia seeds regularly for three months was thinner and thus less prone to clotting. It also helped in controlling high blood pressure.
- Regulate Bowel Movement
These healthy seeds are rich in fiber that helps in regulating the bowel function efficiently. So next time you experience indigestion or poor bowel movement you know what to have. Merely two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 10 grams of fiber which is one third of the daily recommended fiber intake.
- Control Aging
Antioxidants help in controlling aging and chia seeds are rich in these. Consuming these regularly thus helps in keeping you healthy and controls aging.
6. Reduce weight
The consumption of chia seeds can help in reducing weight especially when these seeds are consumed with water or other liquid as the fiber present in these seeds absorbs water and expands inside the stomach making you feel full. This helps in controlling appetite. Chia is also rich in proteins that again help in reducing hunger.
However, though helpful in reducing weight, the consumption of chia seeds alone may not have as much impact. Your total calorie intake during a day as well as your overall lifestyle determines your weight.
How to consume Chia seeds?
Chia seeds have a mild nutty flavour and are almost tasteless. You need not necessarily have to ground these seeds as these can be digested whole. Chia seeds can be enjoyed as toppings on different dishes such as cereals, vegetables, rice, puddings and baked deserts. You may even add these to smoothies, yogurt, shakes and soups, mix these with peanut butter or sprout them. However, it is best to have chia seeds mixed in a glass of plain water, coconut water or cranberry juice.
Chia seeds have emerged as a super food over the last few years. Talking about these seeds, Dr. Andrew Thomas Weil said, “You will begin to see chia being added to more and more commercial products, such as prepared baby foods, nutrition bars, and baked goods.”
Having talked of all the positives of Chia Seeds, it is important to understand if there is any downside to chia? Researcher Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD, cautions that if you have food allergies (especially to Sesame and Mustard seeds) or are on high BP medications or blood thinners you should ask your doctor before adding Chia to your diet.