Have you heard about the numerous health benefits of chia seeds and you are wondering if they are real? The only way to answer this question is to take a closer look at the plant, its composition, and its studied effects on human health. Stay with us to discover everything this plant has to offer and what research has concluded about its properties.
Chia nutritional properties
Chia or Salvia hispanica is a flowering plant from the Lamiaceae mint family. It is a pseudocereal native to Mexico and Guatemala but cultivated and consumed as food around the world. Its most valuable part is the seeds. They are highly appreciated for their high content of fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, especially α-linolenic acid, and for their low-calorie level.
Chia seeds are small, oval, approximately 1mm in diameter, and multicolored (a unique combination of brown, black, gray, and white). When placed in liquid, the seeds can absorb up to 12 times their weight. They develop a mucilaginous coating that favors their use in gelatinous foods and drinks (puddings and smoothies).
Their nutritional properties are impressive. A single ounce (28g) of seeds contains:
- 11g of fiber
- 9g of fat (5g of omega-3)
- 4g of protein
- 18% of the recommended daily dose of calcium
- 30% of the recommended daily dose of manganese
- 30% of the recommended daily dose of magnesium
- 27% of the recommended daily dose of phosphorus
- Decent amounts of zinc, potassium, and vitamins B1, B2, and B3
- Only 131 calories (actually 101 calories, as our bodies do not absorb fiber)
This makes chia seeds a great addition to any diet. Their properties impressed scientists so much that they started investigating the seeds’ health benefits. We will review their conclusions in the following lines.
Chia seeds benefits
Research in the field is only in its initial stages, but the results of the studies completed so far on animals and humans are very promising. We will review the most important benefits of chia seeds in the following lines.
1. Effective Weight Loss Adjuvant
Since they are high in fiber and low in calories, and they absorb water so well, chia seeds work miracles in any weight loss diets. Those who consume them feel full with less, so they take in fewer calories. This translates to lower weight, lower weight circumference, and more favorable lipid profiles. The weight loss benefits of chia seeds for diabetes patients have been documented as well.
2. Hypoglycemic Effects
Besides having a low content of carbohydrates, when added to the diet of diabetes patients, chia seeds slow down the absorption of the other carbohydrates they take in. They also boost insulin sensitivity, lowering blood sugar levels.
3. Improved Bone Mineral Density
As mentioned above, chia seeds are rich in minerals beneficial for the bones, like calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. This makes them an important adjuvant for bone health and an excellent alternative to dairy products.