9 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
The benefits of chia seeds are plentiful.
Chia seeds (salvia hispanica) have become one of the most popular superfoods in the health community. They’re easy to digest when prepared properly and a very versatile ingredient that adds easily to recipes.
Recent research has found that the chia seeds benefits are even greater than we realized. Chia seeds benefits include promoting healthy skin, reducing signs of aging, supporting the heart and digestive system, building stronger bones and muscles, and more. They’ve even been linked to helping reverse diabetes.
Top 9 Benefits
Being rich in so many key nutrients, research has uncovered that regularly eating chia seeds can improve your health in numerous ways. Some of the top chia seeds benefits are:
1. Skin and Aging
Researchers from Mexico uncovered that chia seeds had a total natural phenolic (antioxidants) concentration nearly two times higher than previously reported, and the antioxidant activity was shown to stop up to 70 percent of free radical activity. (2)
This research essentially proves that chia seeds are one of nature’s riches high-antioxidant foods. Antioxidants speed up the skin’s repair systems and prevent further damage. Taking chia seeds can prevent premature skin aging due to inflammation and free radical damage.
2. Digestive Health
Chia is super-high in fiber, providing nearly 11 grams per ounce. One serving can provide the recommended fiber intake for the day, according to the American Dietetic Association.
Fiber is essential for your body’s ability to balance insulin levels. According to the National Institutes of Health, seeds like flax and chia can be a natural blood sugar balancer due to their high fiber content and healthy fats.
Being high in dietary fiber, chia seeds benefits bowel regularity and healthy stool. The rich fiber content in chia seeds also helps people feel more full quicker because it absorbs a considerable amount of water and immediately expands in the stomach when eaten. (3) This may explain why clinical studies have proved that chia curbs hunger and suppresses appetite, which can also lead to weight loss. (4)
Also when consumed, chia seeds create a gelatin-like substance in the stomach. This gel-forming action is due to the soluble fiber in chia seeds, and it can work as a prebiotic that supports the growth of probiotics in the gut.
3. Heart Health
Chia seeds’ ability to reverse inflammation, regulate cholesterol and lower blood pressure make it extremely beneficial to consume for heart health. (5) Also, by reversing oxidative stress, someone is less likely to develop atherosclerosis when he or she regularly consumes chia seeds.
In a nutshell, according to research out of Massachusetts: (6)
The available human and non-human studies show possible effectiveness for allergies, angina, athletic performance enhancement, cancer, coronary heart disease (CHD), heart attack, hormonal/endocrine disorders, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, stroke, and vasodilatation. Some evidence also suggests possible anticoagulant, antioxidant, and antiviral effects of Salvia hispanica.
Chia seeds (salvia hispanica) are high in linoleic acid, a fatty acid that helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. For such a tiny seed, chia is quite high in healthy fats, boasting more omega-3s than salmon. Omega-3s work to protect the heart by lowering blood pressure, bad cholesterol and inflammation. Inflammation can put strain on blood vessels and cause heart disease. So by eating chia seeds, you can boost and protect your heart thanks to the omega-3s — just another example of the amazing chia seeds benefits available.
4. Help Treat Diabetes
Because chia seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid and fiber, researchers from the University of Litoral in Argentina set out to determine how chia seeds can help prevent metabolic disorders like dyslipidemia (excessive fat in the blood) and insulin resistance, which are two factors in the development of diabetes. Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, this research is extremely fascinating because these scientists conducted two studies at the same time and uncovered some profound data: (7)
The first test evaluated how healthy Wistar rats responded to three weeks of a sucrose-rich diet (SRD) in which chia seeds made up the primary dietary source of fats.
The second test took healthy rats and fed them a SRD for three months so they developed dyslipidemia and insulin resistance. Then, they fed these newly diseased rats SRD + chia seeds for an additional two months.
The results were astounding:
During the first examination, eating chia seeds completely prevented the onset of dyslipidemia and insulin resistance. In fact, the blood levels in these rats didn’t change at all in spite of having 65 percent of their diets composed of sugar for three weeks!
During the second examination, after the dyslipidemic and diabetic rats were fed chia seeds + SRD for two months, they completely recovered from their conditions. The researchers also discovered that the dietary addition of chia seeds also reduced visceral adipose tissue, a “belly fat” tissue that affects the metabolism of the body and is a component of obesity.
In a nutshell, chia seeds were proved to halt diabetes and reverse it, adding that to the list of chia seeds benefits.
5. Boost Your Energy and Metabolism
A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning concluded that consuming chia seeds enhanced exercise performance for workouts that lasted 90 minutes the same way a sugar-laden sports drink would, but without all the unhealthy sugar. (8)
In the study, half of the athletes drank 100 percent Gatorade, while the others consumed half Gatorade and half chia drink. The runners’ times were matched and the half-chia group consumed far less sugar.
By adding a serving of chia seeds a day, you can help boost your metabolism and burn belly fat as well. Studies show that the addition of chia seeds to your diet also reduces visceral adipose tissue, a “belly fat” tissue that effects the metabolism of the body and is a component of obesity.
6. Stronger Bones
Just one ounce of chia seeds has about 18 percent of the recommended daily amount of calcium. Calcium is fundamental in bone health and helps maintain bone strength and mass.
Chia also contains boron, which is another essential nutrient for bone health. Boron helps metabolize calcium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus for healthy growth of bones and muscles.
7. Build Muscle and Lose Weight
Chia seeds also rank among the top plant-based sources of protein. This is another reason this super seed is great to consume for those trying to put on lean muscle, burn fat and balance blood sugar levels.
Chia seeds pack a powerful antioxidant punch to help replace some of those nutrients lost when exercising. They’re high in essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, iron and niacin.
One of the characteristics that make chia seeds so unique is they can absorb up to 10 times their own weight in water. Because of this, chia seeds can prolong hydration and improve nutrient absorption of electrolytes. This also slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer, reducing sugar cravings.
Because chia seeds are also high in zinc, they help your body increase leptin. Leptin is a key hormone that regulates appetite, how your body spends energy and regulates your energy levels. It also improves stamina and endurance, making chia a great source of nutrition if you’re looking to get in shape.
8. Fight Breast and Cervical Cancer
Chia seeds are rich in alpha lipoic acid (or ALA), which is an omega-3 fatty acid. In 2013, the Journal of Molecular Biochemistry found that ALA limited the growth of cancer cells in both breast and cervical cancers.
Researchers also found that it caused cell death of the cancer cells without harming the normal healthy cells. While more research still needs to be done to find out the deeper implications of ALA on other types of cancer, this is a great discovery for women struggling with these increasingly common types of cancer. (9)
Thus, chia seeds are cancer-fighting foods, yet another one of the amazing chia seeds benefits you can get when you consume them.
9. Dental Health
With chia seeds packed with calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A and zinc, it’s no wonder that they’re a top food to help your teeth. Calcium is the building block of your teeth and necessary for tooth health.
Zinc prevents tartar by keeping plaque from mineralizing onto your teeth and has an antibacterial effect that keeps bad breath germs away. Vitamin A and phosphorus are also important for strong teeth and a healthy mouth.