Chia Seeds: 9 Health Benefits and 4 Benefits During Pregnancy. Chia seeds, originally grown in Mexico, have long been valued for their medicinal and nutritional values. They were once even used as currency. And Aztec warriors ate chia seeds to give them energy and endurance. To be sure, when it comes to nutrition, these little seeds pack quite the powerful punch. Aside from energy boosts, chia seeds health benefits include improving digestive health, treating diabetes, and protecting the heart.
But there is much more this little seed can do. There are also a couple of side effects to consider. You'll find chia seeds side effects stated at the end of this article. First, let's take a look at the health beneficial seeds can offer.
Nine chia seeds health benefits:
1. Skin and Aging. Chia seeds health benefits start with the ability to improve your skin and ward off signs of aging. This is due to the level of antioxidants within the chia seed. Research out of Mexico found that the seed shaves a higher level of antioxidants than first reported. The antioxidant activity was shown to stop up to 70 percent of free radical activity. When it comes to skin health, antioxidants help by speeding up the skin's repair systems. Furthermore, antioxidants can prevent further damage.
2. Digestive Health. The fiber content is also on the list of chickadees' health benefits. Chia is extremely high in fiber, providing almost 11 grams per ounce. Just one serving can provide the daily recommended intake. And as fiber can help your body pass stool, this helps deal with digestive issues such as constipation. The fiber in Chia can also help keep you fuller longer because it absorbs a good deal of water and expands in the stomach when consumed.
This comes in handy when trying to lose weight—Chia can help curb your appetite. Furthermore, chia seeds health benefits for the digestive system include promoting probiotics in the gut. Chia forms a gel in your stomach, which works as a prebiotic, supporting good bacteria's growth.
3. Heart Health. Chia seeds' ability to reverse inflammation, regulate cholesterol, and lower blood pressure makes it extremely beneficial to consume heart health. Also, by modifying oxidative stress, someone is less likely to develop atherosclerosis when they regularly consume chia seeds. Chia seeds are high in linoleic acid, a fatty acid that helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. For such a tiny seed, Chia is quite high in healthy fats, boasting more omega-3s than salmon.
Omega-3s work to protect the heart by lowering blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and inflammation. Inflammation can put a strain on the blood vessel and cause heart disease. So by eating chia seeds, you can boost and protect your heart thanks to the omega-3s — just another example of the unusual chia seeds benefits available. Chia seeds health benefits extend to your heart, as well.
This is because the seeds can fight inflammation, regulate cholesterol, and lower blood pressure. These little seeds are also high in a fatty acid called linoleic acid, which helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. In fact, the omega-3 content in Chia is even higher than it is in salmon!
4. Help Treat Diabetes. Because chia seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid and fiber, researchers from the University of Litoral in Argentina set out to determine how chia seeds can help prevent metabolic disorders like dyslipidemia (excessive fat in the blood) and insulin resistance, which are two factors in the development of diabetes.
Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, this research is incredibly fascinating because these scientists conducted two studies at the same time and uncovered some profound data: The first test evaluated how healthy Wistar rats responded to three weeks of a sucrose-rich diet in which chia seeds made up the primary dietary source of fats.
The second test took healthy rats and fed them a sucrose-rich diet for three months, so they developed dyslipidemia and insulin resistance. Then, they fed these newly diseased rats sucrose-rich food and chia seeds for an additional two months. The results were astounding: During the first examination, eating chia seeds completely prevented the onset of dyslipidemia and insulin resistance.
The blood levels in these rats didn't change despite having 65 percent of their diets composed of sugar for three weeks! During the second examination, after the dyslipidemic and diabetic rats were fed chia seeds and sucrose-rich diet for two months, they completely recovered from their conditions. The researchers also discovered that chia seeds' dietary addition also reduced visceral adipose tissue, a "belly fat" tissue that affects the metabolism of the body and is a component of obesity.
5. Boost Your Energy and Metabolism. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning concluded that consuming chia seeds enhanced exercise performance for workouts that lasted 90 minutes the same way a sugar-laden sports drink would, but without all the unhealthy sugar.
Half of the athletes drank 100 percent Gatorade in the study, while the others consumed half Gatorade and half chia drink. The runners' times were matched, and the half-chia group consumed far less sugar. By adding a serving of chia seeds a day, you can help boost your metabolism and burn belly fat. Studies show that the addition of chia seeds to your diet also reduces visceral adipose tissue, a "belly fat" tissue that affects the body's metabolism and is a component of obesity.
6. Stronger Bones. Just one ounce of chia seeds has about 18 percent of the recommended daily amount of calcium. Calcium is fundamental in bone health and helps maintain bone strength and mass. Chia also contains boron, which is another essential nutrient for bone health. Boron helps metabolize calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus for the healthy growth of bones and muscles.
7. Build Muscle and Lose Weight. Chia seeds also rank among the top plant-based sources of protein. This is another reason this super seed is high to consume for those trying to put on lean muscle, burn fat, and balance blood sugar levels. Chia seeds pack a powerful antioxidant punch to help replace some of those nutrients lost when exercising.
They're high in essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, iron, and niacin. One of the characteristics that make chia seeds so unique is they can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water. Because of this, chia seeds can prolong hydration and improve nutrient absorption of electrolytes.
This also slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer, reducing sugar cravings. Because chia seeds are also high in zinc, they help your body increase leptin. Leptin is a crucial hormone that regulates appetite, how your body spends energy, and governs your energy levels. It also improves stamina and endurance, making Chia an excellent nutrition source if you're looking to get in shape.
8. Fight Breast and Cervical Cancer. Chia seeds are rich in alpha-lipoic acid, which is an omega-3 fatty acid. In 2013, the Journal of Molecular Biochemistry found that alpha-lipoic acid limited cancer cells' growth in both breast and cervical cancers. Researchers also found that it caused cell death of the cancer cells without harming the normal healthy cells.
While more research still needs to be done to determine the more profound implications of alpha-lipoic acid on other types of cancer, this is a great discovery for women struggling with these increasingly common types of cancer. Thus, chia seeds are cancer-fighting foods, yet another one of the unusual chia seeds benefits you can get when consuming them.
9. Dental Health. Chia seeds health benefits include the health of your teeth, too. With them being chock-full of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A, and zinc, the chia seed is a great choice when it comes to dental health. Calcium is the building block of your teeth. And zinc prevents tartar by keeping the plaque from mineralizing onto your teeth.
Plus, it has an antibacterial effect, which keeps away the germs that cause bad breath. And here are 4 Chia Seeds Benefits During Pregnancy These tiny seeds pack such a nutritional punch that expectant mothers should also consider incorporating them into their diets. Pregnancy can deplete your body of essential nutrients, and eating chia seeds can help replace those lost nutrients while providing a much-needed energy boost.
Chia seeds are easy to incorporate into your daily routine and benefit the mother's health and the baby's development. Here are the top chia seeds benefits for pregnancy and why they're among the best superfoods for a healthy pregnancy:
1. Excellent Source of Omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for a baby's brain development. Most people choose to meet their daily requirements by consuming salmon or fish oil supplements. The mercury content in fish tends to make most pregnant women skeptical, so Chia is a great alternative.
For such a tiny seed, Chia is quite high in omega-3 fatty acids. Typically, nuts and seeds with high-fat content have short shelf lives before they turn rancid, but chia seeds are so rich in antioxidants they can be kept in storage for up to four years without deterioration.
2. Replenish Lost Nutrients. Pregnancy is very taxing on the body. Chia seeds pack a powerful antioxidant punch to help replace some of those lost nutrients. They're high in essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, iron, and niacin. During the final three months of pregnancy, it's essential to get adequate calcium for proper skeletal development.
Chia seeds contain almost five times the amount of calcium as milk. A bonus: They also contain boron, another critical mineral for bone health. Iron is essential to develop the red blood cells that transport oxygen through the body. During pregnancy, increased iron intake is necessary to accommodate the mother's increased blood volume and improve the baby's blood.
Chia seeds have shown possible effectiveness for allergies, angina, athletic performance enhancement, cancer, coronary heart disease, heart attack, hormonal/endocrine disorders, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, stroke, and vasodilatation. Some evidence also suggests possible anticoagulant, antioxidant and antiviral effects.
3. Slow Sugar Absorption. High blood sugar makes for a risky pregnancy. It's been linked to high birth weight complications, increased chance of C-section deliveries, and preeclampsia. When consumed, chia seeds create a gelatin-like substance in the stomach. This slows digestion and keeps blood sugar levels stable.
4. Energy Booster. In addition to slowing sugar absorption, Chia also slows down-converting sugars and carbohydrates from the seeds into energy. This slow-burning process, in combination with the high protein content, leads to a sustained energy boost. Conclusion, Chia is quite versatile.
The seeds can be eaten raw, soaked in water to form a gel, or sprouted like alfalfa sprouts. When eaten naturally, they have a nut-like flavor and are a great addition to your morning quinoa porridge, yogurt or tossed on a salad. They can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water, so they're a great way to thicken up soups or a smoothie. However, you choose to incorporate them into your diet, and it's best to do it gradually.
Chia is high in fiber, so start with a small amount and be sure to drink plenty of water. The recommended daily serving is one to two tablespoons of dry seeds. Start slow and give your body time to adjust to the increased fiber intake. Also, make sure to choose an organic brand. That way, you know you'll get some fantastic chia seeds benefits, such as helping with skin, aging, digestive health, heart health, diabetes, energy, metabolism, bones, muscle, weight loss, certain cancers, dental hygiene, and pregnancy.