Chia Seed Benefits: Are You Eating This Superfood?

What superfoods have you been incorporating into your diet these days? Have you been making room for one of the most nutritious superfood seeds on the planet?

If not, we highly recommend that you do! Not only do these tiny seeds contain a variety of important nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals; they also contain a high concentration of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.

Yes, we are referring to chia seeds!

It is extremely easy to get your hands on some chia seeds—you can buy them at your local grocery store or find them in healthy food products like our Sprouted Chia Pudding OverNights!

Read on to find out why you need chia seeds in your life.

Chia Seeds—The Basics

Chia, otherwise known as Salvia hispanica L., is a plant species belonging to the mint family that is native to southern Mexico and northern Guatemala.

Chia seeds have a very mild, nutty flavor and can absorb up to 10 times their weight in liquid!

For all you history lovers out there, chia has made an interesting journey to its superfood status of today’s world.

Let me explain.

Chia was a common food eaten by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs. Aztec soldiers used chia during battle and expeditions to provide energy, endurance, and strength.

Chia was even used as a form of tax payment! Most interestingly, chia was used in religious ceremonies as an offering to Aztec Gods. Since it was used for religious purposes, chia was banned under the rule of the European conquerors and was re-discovered in the 1990s.

Fast forward to modern day, chia may no longer have godlike status, but the Aztec and Mayans were on to something because it certainly lives up to its superfood title!

chia seeds

 

Nutrients Found in Chia Seeds

Chia seeds contain many amazing nutrients, including:

Vitamins:

Chia contains riboflavin, niacin, and thiamine in amounts that are higher than other seeds.

Minerals:

Chia contains calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

  • Fun Fact: Chia seeds contain a higher concentration of calcium than milk and most dairy products! [Absorption may be reduced by phytic acid, but sprouting chia can help decrease this.]

Protein:

Chia seeds are made up of about 19% protein. It is a source of high-quality, complete protein because it contains all 9 essential amino acids, which our bodies cannot make. It is highest in glutamine, which is one of the most important nutrients for healthy digestion. This protein is well digested by our bodies (upwards of 78.9%), which is similar to casein (88.6%) and beans (77.5%), but higher than rice (59.4%), and wheat (52.7%) proteins.

  • Fun Fact: Sprouting chia actually increases their protein content and quality!

Fiber:

Chia seeds are a fantastic source of dietary fiber—according to research, its total dietary fiber content ranges from 47% - 60%. This fiber is composed of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Chia is higher in fiber than other seeds, including amaranth (7.3%), quinoa (7.0%), and corn (8.3%).

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Chia seeds are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Eating two tablespoons of chia seeds gives us 4,915 mg of ALA, which is much higher than the daily recommended intake. Research has shown that the oil extracted from chia seeds contains several phenolic compounds such as tocopherols, phytosterols and carotenoids.

  • Fun Fact: Oil extracted from chia seeds was used during ancient times as medicine to treat eye infections and stomach disorders.

Antioxidants:

Chia seeds contain a high concentration of antioxidant compounds, which are mainly phenolic acids and flavonoids (polyphenols), including caffeic and chlorogenic acids, myricetin, quercetin and kaempferol.

  • Fun Fact: Many of chia seeds' health benefits are attributed to their high content of omega-3’s and antioxidant compounds.
**Please Note: amounts of nutrients may vary depending on where the chia seeds were grown.

    Health Benefits

    The nutrients found in chia can give rise to a wide array of health benefits. Specifically, the nutrients found in chia may help to:

    Feed good bacteria in the gut, which helps to keep our microbiome healthy.

    Chia is high in soluble dietary fiber, which forms a gel when it is soaked in liquid. This gel becomes fermented in the colon, where it is feasted on by good bacteria in the gut. These good bacteria produce SCFAs (short-chain fatty acids) as a byproduct of the fermentation. SCFAs play a major role in keeping our microbiome healthy and balanced with good bacteria, which means they also play a significant role in our overall health.

    Protect the body from free radicals, aging, and cancer.

    Chia seeds are rich in antioxidant compounds like phenolic acids and flavonoids, which help to reduce inflammation and processes that can lead to the development of cancer. Antioxidants can also help to protect the body from other chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer and Parkinson’s.

    Improve heart health & decreases risk of heart attack and stroke.

    Chia seeds contain a high amount of dietary fiber, which helps to lower levels of bad cholesterol in the blood by binding to it, which prevents it from being absorbed. This is important because high blood cholesterol can lead to the narrowing of arteries, which increases our risk for heart attack and stroke. Chia seeds are also high in omega-3’s, which can lower high triglyceride levels (high levels can also narrow arteries and increase risk of heart attack and stroke). Recent research has also shown that chia proteins and bioactive peptides can block key markers that are involved in the production of cholesterol.

    Prevents blood sugar spikes and increases satiety.

    Chia seeds are low in carbohydrates and high in dietary fiber and protein, which can slow down digestion, prevent blood sugar spikes after eating, and lead to feelings of satiety and fullness. This means that chia can make a great breakfast or snack that will leave you feeling full and satisfied until your next meal. In other words, eat this to avoid feeling hangry!

    The Best Way to Eat Chia Seeds

    Ready to start adding chia to your diet, but don’t know where to start?

    We got your back! There is always the option of buying chia seeds and preparing them to your liking, but we have a much easier, convenient option for you. Try our Sprouted Chia Pudding OverNights

    This is literally the easiest, most delicious breakfast or anytime option. All you do it pour 1 cup of your favorite plant mylk into the package, shake it up, and leave it in your fridge overnight. The end result is a delicious pudding texture that is as satisfying as it is tasty.

    The best part is that you will be getting all of the nutrients that we mentioned and will be better absorbing them when you eat OverNights. This is because our chia seeds are SPROUTED, which increases their bioavailability (translation: nutrients are made more available so we can better absorb them!).

    Sprouting chia also increases:

    • Protein quality and content
    • Polyphenol content along with their associated antioxidant activity.

    Conclusion

    Don’t let chia seeds’ small size fool ya! They are packed with amazing nutrients that have a wide array of health benefits. 

    Sources:

    1. De Falco, Bruna, Mariana Amato, and Virginia Lanzotti. "Chia seeds products: an overview." Phytochemistry Reviews 16.4 (2017): 745-760.
    2. Grancieri, Mariana, Hercia Stampini Duarte Martino, and Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia. "Chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) as a source of proteins and bioactive peptides with health benefits: A review." Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 18.2 (2019): 480-499.
    3. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Chia Seeds”. The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2020, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/chia-seeds/.

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