You may remember chia seeds from the 80s Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Pets. While you can still purchase these sprouting clay animals, chia seeds are even more popular today as a health food.
Chia seeds come from a flowering plant native to Mexico and Guatemala called Hispanic sagesays registered dietitian Kayla Kopp, RD, LD. For centuries, people in those regions have incorporated chia seeds into their diets. With good reason, chia seeds are packed with nutrition. Some people even call them a superfood.
Why are chia seeds good for you?
Even though chia seeds are small, they are among the best seeds to eat. Few foods pack such a nutritional punch, says Kopp.
Chia seeds are an excellent source of many nutrients. An ounce of chia seeds can contribute to your daily value of fiber, protein, minerals and B vitamins.
|Milligrams (mg) in 1 ounce of chia seeds
|Daily Value (mg)
|Percentage of Daily Value
|Thiamine (vitamin B1)
|Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
|Niacin (vitamin B3)
Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants, such as polyphenols. Antioxidants fight free radicals that can damage cells. Free radicals occur naturally in your body, as well as from exposure to harmful substances such as:
When you eat chia seeds, you also get a hefty dose of healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are essential for brain and eye health, immunity, and even heart health.
Benefits of chia seeds
The richness of nutrients in chia seeds can translate into many health benefits. Research into the health effects of chia seeds is still in its infancy, but the results so far are positive.
Of course, chia seeds are just one component of a healthy diet, notes Kopp. To maximize their benefits, they should be part of the healthy foods you eat every day.
Some of the benefits of chia seeds include:
1. Improve digestive function
Studies show that chia seeds increase the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the intestines. They also promote the growth of good intestinal bacteria.
And based on their fiber content, it’s also likely that chia seeds can help relieve constipation, adds Kopp.
2. Help with weight loss
Drinking a glass of chia water (chia seeds mixed with water) can help you eat less. Chia seeds expand when they get wet and take up space in your stomach. You may feel less hungry, which can lead to weight loss.
But be careful. Too many chia seeds can actually cause digestive issues, warns Kopp. If you don’t drink enough water, the seeds absorb water in the intestines. This can cause constipation, bloating and gas.
3. Helps prevent chronic disease
Research suggests that chia seeds may help prevent chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and possibly even cancer. Results from human studies show that chia seeds can:
- Decrease inflammation.
- Improve blood sugar control.
- Low blood pressure.
- Increases the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood.
- Reduce triglycerides.
But not all studies agree. For example, one study looked at disease risk factors in 76 people who were overweight or obese. Participants received chia seeds or a (fake) placebo supplement mixed with water twice a day for 12 weeks. The researchers found no differences between the groups in terms of weight, cholesterol levels, blood pressure or inflammation.
More research is needed to better understand the health benefits of chia seeds and the ideal amount you should consume each day. But even without this evidence, you can safely include chia seeds in your diet, says Kopp. We know they are excellent sources of nutrition and contribute to your overall health. Just don’t overdo it. Moderation is best with any food.
How to incorporate chia seeds into your diet
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate chia seeds into your diet, Kopp recommends starting with a simple chia pudding. You can also add them to a smoothie or morning oatmeal. The texture is similar to tapioca.
If you like texture, try exploring other recipes, like:
Not a fan of the plot? These Chia Turkey Meatballs provide all of the health benefits without the chia-like texture. And when you use ground chia seeds in baked goods, you won’t even notice the chia seeds are there. Pumpkin Apple Chia Muffins and Morning Glory Chia Seed Muffins are two recipes to try. Your body will thank you for the healthy and tasty treat.
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Image Source : health.clevelandclinic.org