7 health benefits of chia seeds
Chia seeds: they’re black, they’re white, and they’re teeny tiny. They’re also a nutritional powerhouse. But why are they getting so much attention all of a sudden? Do they really live up to the health hype?
“The humble chia seed has been labelled a superfood for good reason,” says Scotty Gooding, former MKR contestant, personal trainer and clean eater. “Originating in South America, these seeds were a rich source of nutrients for the Mayans and Aztecs, and are packed with health benefits.”
7 health benefits of chia seeds
#1. They’re full of omega-3s
Chia seeds contain around eight times more omega-3s than salmon, making them one of the richest plant-based sources of this essential fatty acid, which is imperative for optimal brain, heart and skin health.
#2. They’re a high source of protein
One serving of chia seeds – around 28 grams – contains over four grams of protein. This is nearly 10 per cent of the daily-recommended intake, making it a wonderful choice for vegetarians or those wanting to easily boost their protein intake.
#3. They’re gluten-free
Chia seeds do not contain any gluten or grains. This is wonderful news for coeliacs and those on a gluten-free diet as they’re free to make use of this superfood’s many nutritional benefits.
#4. They’re packed with fibre
Fibre is a must for digestive health, reducing inflammation, regulating bowel function and lowering cholesterol. One serving of chia seeds contains around 11 grams of fibre – that’s around a third of your daily intake.
#5. They’re rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants help protect the body from free radicals, ageing and cancer. Chia seeds have an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity – a measurement that lists the antioxidant value of foods) four times higher than blueberries. This high level of antioxidants also means chia seeds have a long shelf life of around two years, even without refrigeration.
#6. They’re bursting with minerals
Chia seeds contain a decent daily dose of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese – all of which are vital for maintaining healthy weight, strong bones, preventing hypertension and encouraging a speedy metabolism.
#7. They’re awesome for diabetics
Chia seeds have the unique ability of slowing down digestion, and the gelatin-like coating of chia seeds can help prevent blood sugar spikes when exposed to liquid. This means they naturally have a positive impact on regulating blood glucose levels, which help treat type-2 diabetes.
Now that we know how exceptional this teeny tiny goodies are, how does one easily add chia seeds to their diet? Scott suggests adding a tablespoon – the recommended daily dosage – of seeds to your breakfast or smoothie in the morning, or your lunchtime/dinnertime salad. They’re also a great addition to bread or muffin recipes. “Look out for wraps and bread made from chia, too – they’re a healthier alternative to wheat, are gluten-free and are perfect for lunches,” he adds. Too easy.
Shopping tip: when purchasing chia seeds, look for the black or white varieties. The red ones are immature chia seeds, which may lack all the nutritional benefits mentioned above.
Do you eat chia seeds? Are you surprised to hear they have so many health benefits? Will you be adding this superfood to your diet from now on?