Small but powerful: The health benefits of chia seeds
Dr. Sneha Ganatra
November 17, 2020
Every year, a new food trend becomes a rage, but this also helps bring certain healthy foods into the spotlight. It was due to such trends that chia seeds gained newfound popularity and made their way into people’s lives. The chia seed is a little black seed from the plant Salvia hispanica and is absolutely packed with nutrients. Not to be confused with basil seeds or sabza, these seeds are free of gluten, which is important to many health-conscious individuals, and rich in fibre, making them immensely beneficial for maintaining good bodily function. In fact, chia seeds are one of the best sources of fibre in the world. At 40% fibre by weight, they are extremely calorie-efficient too!
These seeds have a mild, almost neutral, flavour. For this reason, there are several chia seeds uses, ranging from salad to pudding recipes, and the seed pairs with almost any food type. In fact, before chia seeds got adopted by this generation, they were used for their ability to retain water, with some cooks even mixing them with flour. As such, it can be used quite flexibly and given its many health benefits, it should.
So, if you’ve ever wondered, what is chia seeds or what benefits does chia seeds have, here are a few pointers to take note of.
Serves as rich source of antioxidants
When it comes to staying healthy, antioxidants play an important role in the body. This is because they combat the production of free radicals. These can bring about molecular cell damage in the body, leading to oxidative stress. Over time, this contributes to rapid aging and can also be the cause of several diseases like diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and cataracts. Thankfully, antioxidants can either reduce or prevent the effects of free radicals and chia seeds are loaded with a whole range of these such as:
- Chlorogenic acid
- Caffeic acid
Studies have found these have heart-healthy, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-aging properties. Further, these antioxidants also keep the fats in chia seeds for becoming rancid.
Aids weight loss
Weight loss can be tricky for many but the basic principle is to consume fewer calories than the amount needed to maintain your current weight. One good way to go about this is to consume protein as high-protein intake is linked to lowered appetites and reduced snacking. Chia seeds have a particularly high protein content, when compared to other plant foods, making them a good solution for those who do not eat animal products.
Further, chia seeds are also rich in soluble fibre, which is known to absorb large amounts of water. As a result, eating chia seeds should help increase satiety and slow down the absorption of food. Feeling fuller for longer, in combination with a reduced appetite due to the protein intake, is an effective way of keeping calorie levels in check, which serves as an effective weight loss practice. However, it is important to note that consuming chia seeds in combination with a healthy lifestyle and diet has proven effective in this regard. Using it as a standalone weight loss food may not give you the desired results.
Helps treat diverticulosis
Diverticulosis is a condition of the colon where pouches form in the colon wall. These can become infected or inflamed causing immense pain and discomfort. While the causes of such a condition remain unknown, high-fibre diets have been known to provide relief, mainly by decreasing the frequency of flare-ups. Fibre-rich foods like chia seeds absorb water and make bowel movement smoother, while reducing inflammation and pressure in the colon.
Reduces the risk of heart disease
As mentioned earlier, chia seeds are rich in fibre and protein. These have health benefits of their own, but in combination with omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds may reduce the risk of you developing heart disease. Chia seeds may help lower risk factors like inflammation, triglycerides, and insulin resistance, while raising the amount of HDL cholesterol in the blood. Moreover, studies have found that chia seeds help normalise blood pressure in those with hypertension, which is known risk factor for heart disease.
Keeps post-meal blood sugar levels in check
High blood sugar levels, especially when fasting, are characteristic of type 2 diabetes, and can be quite hard to keep in check. These increase the risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses. Besides this, blood sugar spikes after consuming meals are also undesirable as they can lead to health problems, especially if they spike excessively on a regular basis. Thankfully, there is a way to control this post-meal sugar spike and a study has found that eating bread that contains chia seeds has worked to this effect.
Owing to the many chia seeds benefits and the fact that they have absolutely no sugar content, it is safe to say that the seeds could very easily be part of most diets. In fact, chia seeds nutrition facts show that even as little as 28g a day provides for 27% of your daily phosphorous requirement and 18% of your daily calcium requirement. Both of these nutrients are essential to optimal bodily function and it can be very easy to miss out on these without a balanced diet.
However, like with any food, overconsumption has its downsides and can come with health complications. In this case, digestive distress is a very real possibility and to avoid it, it may be wise to consult a trained nutritionist before making chia seeds a regular part of your diet.
With the Bajaj Finserv Health app, availing such specialised healthcare is easier and simpler than before! Using this app on your smartphone, you can find the best doctors near you, book appointments at clinics online, and skip physical queues.
What’s more, if an in-person visit isn’t possible or needed, you can also opt to virtually consult with your doctor over video for added convenience. This makes remote healthcare a reality, thus ensuring you have access to medical care wherever you are. In addition to that, getting adjustments or tweaks to diet plans is also a lot simpler as you can share digital patient records with doctors, who can then advise you accordingly. To get all these benefits and more, download the app today from Google Play or the Apple App Store and start including chia in your weekly meals!