Goodness of Chia Seeds
What are the benefits of chia seeds?Despite their small size, chia seeds are full of important nutrients.
They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, and they provide fiber, iron, and calcium.
Remember the chia pets that were popular in the 1990s? Chia seeds are the same small seeds you used to grow an Afro in your Homer Simpson terracotta vase.
Here are some key points about chia seeds. More detail is in the main article.
- Chia seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, iron, and calcium.
- A 28-gram, or 1-ounce, serving of chia seeds also contains 5.6 grams of protein.
- Mixed with water, they can replace egg in vegan cooking.
- Chia seeds can be eaten cooked or raw, but they should be added to another food or soaked before eating.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, a 28-gram, or one-ounce serving of chia seeds contains:
- 131 calories
- 8.4 grams of fat
- 13.07 grams of carbohydrate
- 11.2 grams of fiber
- 5.6 grams of protein
- No sugar
Chia seeds provide more omega-3s, calcium, phosphorus, and fiber than flaxseeds. Most people do not consume enough of these essential nutrients.
They have been shown to support a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
Chia and the power of fiber
The United States (U.S.) dietary guidelines for 2015 to 2020 suggest that men under the age of 50 years should consume 30.8 grams (g) of fiber per day and women under the age of 50 years should consume 25.2 g per day.
For adults over 50 years of age, the recommendation for men is 28 g per day, and for women, it is 22.4 g per day. Most people consume less than half of that recommendation.
The easiest way to increase fiber intake is to eat more plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and unprocessed grains. Just one ounce of chia seeds provides 10 grams of fiber, almost half the daily recommendation for a woman over 50 years.
Foods that are high in fiber help people to feel full for longer, and they are usually lower in calories. Increased fiber intake and a high fiber diet have been shown to help with weight loss.
Aside from chia seeds' fiber content, their high levels of omega-3-fatty acids and alpha-linoleic acid may be useful for weight loss.
However, evidence is scant. A review, published in the Journal of Obesity, concludes that "there is limited data to suggest the use of chia seeds for weight loss."
Another study, published in Nutrition Research, concludes that, in overweight adults, chia seeds have "no influence on body mass or composition, or various disease risk factor measures."
High-fiber diets have been shown to decrease the prevalence in flare-ups of diverticulitis by absorbing water in the colon and making bowel movements easier to pass.
Eating a healthful, fiber-filled diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables can reduce pressure and inflammation in the colon.
The exact causes of diverticular disease are not known, but the condition has repeatedly been associated with a low fiber diet.
Cardiovascular disease and cholesterol
Increased fiber intake has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
A review of 67 separate controlled trials found that even a modest 10-gram per day increase in fiber intake reduced LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, as well as total cholesterol.
Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation. In this way, it may decrease the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
High-fiber diets are associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes. Eating high-fiber meals helps to keep blood sugar stable.
Based on a review of findings from several large studies, The National Institute of Medicine found that diets with 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories were associated with significant reductions in the risk of both coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Digestion and detox
A diet with adequate fiber prevents constipation and promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract. Regular bowel movements are crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool.