Chia seeds are tiny but they pack a powerful punch. You may be familiar with them from the commercials that pop up around the holidays. However, they do much more than grow quickly on a small clay shape. The chia seed is native to South America and has been a mainstay in Mayan and Aztec diets for centuries. The word “chia” actually means strength, and according to stories, the native cultures ate the seeds to get an energy boost. Energy is only one of the many health benefits chia seeds have to offer.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation throughout your body. They strengthen your immune system and have been shown to improve cognitive function. They also reduce LDL (the bad cholesterol) and may impact mood, sleep, and fight diseases like cancer and diabetes. Omega 3 fatty acids are so important that many doctors recommend dietary supplementation. But you don’t have to supplement if you include chia seeds in your diet. One ounce of chia seeds contains 4915 mg of omega 3’s.
Antioxidants are nutrients found in many plant based foods, including chia seeds. These nutrients have been shown to reduce the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are released by your cells into your body during times of stress. They damage your body and cause cancer, heart disease, and many other deadly conditions. The antioxidants found in chia seeds can help you stay healthy and prevent disease.
Chia seeds are packed with fiber. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain one third of the recommended daily intake, 10 grams. Fiber improves digestion and reduces bloating. Fiber also helps you feel fuller. A tablespoon of chia seeds before each meal will help you eat less and lose weight. They’re excellent sprinkled on salads or yogurt. And unlike many seeds, you don’t have to grind chia seeds before consuming them. They can be digested whole.
Chia seeds have also been shown to help balance insulin levels and blood sugar. One of the common causes for weight gain are cravings. Cravings are often caused by a spike in blood sugar. When the blood sugar levels come down from a spike, your body craves sugar and calories. Consuming chia seeds can help prevent blood sugar spikes and the cravings that ultimately lead to weight gain.
Chia seeds can be found in your supermarket or in health food stores. You can buy them alone or as part of other items. For example, you can find Kombucha drinks with chia seeds. Dry, they’re shelf stable and do not need to be refrigerated. When they’re wet, a gelatinous shell forms around them, which makes them fun to eat. They have a mild nutty flavor and make a delicious and healthy addition to your diet.