Small but Powerful: The Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds
- The chia seeds are little black seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica and are absolutely packed with nutrients.
- These seeds are also rich in soluble fiber, which is known to absorb large amounts of water.
- In this case, digestive distress is a very real possibility. Consulting a trained nutritionist can help.
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 seeds are little black seeds from the plant Salvia hispanica and are absolutely packed with nutrients. These seeds are free of gluten, which is important to many health-conscious individuals, and rich in fiber. This makes them immensely beneficial for maintaining good bodily function. In fact, chia seeds are one of the best sources of fiber in the world. At 40% fiber by weight, they are extremely calorie-efficient too!
Chia seeds have a mild, almost neutral, flavor. For this reason, there are several chia seeds uses, ranging from salad to pudding recipes, and the seed pairs with almost any food type. Earlier, they were used for their ability to retain water, with some cooks even mixing them with flour. It can be used quite flexibly, and given its many health benefits, it should.
Here are a few pointers to take note of.
Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds hold very high nutritional value. They are rich in iron, calcium, antioxidants, and more. They are also suited to bring a great balance to your diet. In addition to the above, chia seeds are great for bowel movements owing to their high fiber content. Due to their high water absorbent nature, chia seeds are known to make people feel fuller. This helps in curbing overeating, thereby keeping weight gain in check. If consumed regularly, chia seeds are the perfect ingredient to keep cholesterol in check. Keeping cholesterol at bay can only result in improved cardiovascular health.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) .
National Nutrient Database, a 28 g (1 ounce) or 2 1/2 tbsp. serving of chia seeds contains :
131 calories (kcal)
8.4 g of fat
13.07 g of carbohydrate
11.2 g of fiber
5.6 g of protein
0 g sugar
Chia Seed Facts
Chia seeds belong to the mint family and are grown without pesticides or insecticides. This is because pests and other insects are not attracted to mint. This makes it completely safe for consumption.
Chia seeds were so vastly used in the Aztec civilization that they were also used as currency. The cultivation of chia seeds happens under very specific climatic conditions. Also, it is grown between 23 degrees north and 23 degrees south latitude.
The flowers of the chia seeds plant are white and purple in color.
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 from becoming rancid.
Chia seeds help in weight loss
The basic principle for weight loss 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. A high protein intake is linked to lowered appetites and reduced snacking. They have a particularly high protein content, making them a good solution for those who do not eat animal products.
Further, these seeds are also rich in soluble fiber, which is known to absorb large amounts of water. As a result, eating chia seeds helps increase satiety and slow down the absorption of food. 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.Additional Read: Top Myths On Weight Loss
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. Fibre-rich foods like chia seeds absorb water, decrease flare-ups, make bowel movement smoother while reducing pressure in the colon.
Reduces the risk of heart disease
As mentioned earlier, chia seeds are rich in fibre and protein. 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. Moreover, studies have found that chia seeds help normalise blood pressure in those with hypertension.
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.
Side Effects of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are mostly found in snacks, health drinks, and desserts. Chia seeds can be a great combination of healthy and tasty. However, there are chances of certain side effects that might occur.
High in fiber, chia seeds must not be overconsumed. This can cause intestinal issues, stomach pain, or dysentery. This can be a cause of huge discomfort.
While it is absolutely safe to consume chia seeds, it does not eliminate the risk of choking. The reason behind this is that the seed swells up when in moisture. This swelling of chia seeds might cause discomfort in the throat.
Some people are known to be allergic to chia seeds. By all means, you must avoid chia seeds if it causes any kind of irritation in the throat or stomach.
Chia Seed RecipesChia seeds can be used to make a variety of desserts, drinks, and smoothies. Chia seeds are primarily used in custard, puddings, fruit juices, and smoothies. If you are someone who enjoys slurping on thick shakes, do not forget to add chia seeds to your smoothie.
1. Chia seed pudding
Take a jar and mix all ingredients in it. Let it rest for about 4 hours. As a result, the chia seeds will expand and convert into slightly thick pudding. Do add sliced fruit or toasted nuts and serve.
2. Blueberry Chia seeds and Smoothie
Add chia seeds to a jar along with half a cup of milk. Stir well and keep the mixture aside for about 10 minutes. You can also refrigerate it for about 4 hours. Next, transfer the entire mixture to a blender. Add blueberries, vanilla extract, coconut oil (or coconut butter), and cinnamon to it and blend until it is smooth. Finally, you can add honey for sweetness. This step is entirely optional.
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 best healthcare platform provided by Bajaj Finserv Health, availing of such specialised healthcare is easier and simpler than before! 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. Begin your journey to a healthy life!
Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.
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