The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Chia seeds.

Chia seeds provide high amounts of essential omega-3 fatty acids. (Image: Marilyn Gould via Dreamstime)

Nowadays, people are very conscious about healthy eating habits. Diet experts often advise patients about the importance of eating specific types of nuts and seeds of fruits. If you have not included chia seeds in your diet, it is time you do that. 

What are chia seeds?

Even now, not many people are aware of chia seeds, and they do not know much about the importance and health benefits of these seeds. Chia seeds are tiny and rounded seeds found in the Salvia hispanica plant. They are either white or black-hued, and both have similar health benefits.

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The Salvia hispanica plant is related to the mint family. It grows natively in the deserts of Mexico and Guatemala. Today, the plant is grown commercially in its native Mexico and Guatemala and in Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Australia.

The United States is the greatest consumer of chia seeds and imported around US$168.9 million worth of seeds in 2020 from the rest of the world. Germany was the second major importer, with US$112.2 million worth of seeds in 2020. 

The Salvia hispanica plant is related to the mint family. (Image: Govindji via Dreamstime)

Chia seeds are new to the health food scene, but they have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. They were used extensively by the ancient Aztec and Mayan tribes. They have also been used for culinary needs as they have a crunchy, nutty flavor, but typically, the seeds are ground into flour and mixed with foods and beverages.

The nutritional benefits

Chia seeds are replete with omega-3 and six fatty acids. In addition, alpha-linolenic acid is a crucial nutrient. The seeds also contain fiber and protein and have several minerals, including zinc, calcium, and phosphorus.

Chia seeds can be immensely beneficial for people from many age groups. The main health benefits of eating the seeds are:

A good source of fiber

Chia seeds contain a considerable amount of fiber and insoluble fiber, about 10 grams in one ounce (28 grams) of seeds. That means they’re a whopping 35 percent fiber by weight. This makes china seeds ideal for enhancing digestive tract health. Eating fiber-rich food reduces the risk of developing digestive ailments. It also helps relieve constipation.

Supports healthy bones

To make bones more robust, you must eat foods rich in minerals like magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. Chia seeds are replete with these minerals. While dairy products also contain these minerals, those with lactose intolerance cannot consume them. Instead, they can gain sufficient calcium by eating chia seeds. In addition, studies have shown that plant-sourced minerals are just as adequate at enhancing bone density as minerals derived from dairy products.

Regulates inflammation

Chia seeds are rich in Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA), a potent antioxidant that may be beneficial for reducing oxidation and inflammation. Chronic inflammation paves the way for developing diseases like diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and heart disease. Studies have shown ALA aids in mitigating inflammation in the body. 

Chia seeds contain quercetin, an antioxidant that can reduce your risk of developing several health conditions, including heart disease. (Image: Zuberka via Dreamstime)

Supports heart health

Chia seeds contain quercetin, an antioxidant that can reduce your risk of developing several health conditions, including heart disease. The seeds are also high in fiber, which can help to lower high blood pressure and, in turn, reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

Maintains healthy skin

Chia seeds are laden with antioxidants, and these protect against free radicals that cause skin damage. So, you are less affected by skin aging and pigmentation. 

Are there any precautions?

Chia seeds are nutritious, but they may cause some side effects. Even then, these effects are not seen in everyone eating the seeds. Such side effects include upset stomach, bloating, and abdominal pain. Those taking blood pressure medications should talk with a doctor before consuming these.  

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