Chia seeds, originally grown in Mexico, have long been valued for their medicinal and nutritional values. In fact, 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 benefits chia seeds can offer.
Here are 9 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 seeds have a higher level of antioxidants than first reported, in fact. The antioxidant activity was shown to stop up to 70 percent of free radical activity. (1)
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 chia seeds health benefits. In fact, 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 is helpful for dealing 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. (2, 3)
Furthermore, chia seeds health benefits for the digestive system include promoting the growth of probiotics in the gut. Chia forms a gel in your stomach, which works as a prebiotic, supporting the growth of good bacteria.
3. Heart Health
Chia seeds health benefits extend to your heart, as well. This is because the seeds can fight inflammation, regulate cholesterol and lower blood pressure. (4) These little seeds are also high in a fatty acid called linoleic acid, which helps your body absorb fat-soluable 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
5. Boost Your Energy and Metabolism
Say goodbye to sugary sports drinks! When it comes to working out, natural, whole foods are the best way to give yourself the energy you need. One study shows that consuming chia seeds enhances exercise performance in the same way drinks like Gatorade can. The difference is with chia seeds, you’re avoiding a world of unhealthy added sugar. (6)
Furthermore, chia seeds can boost your metabolism. This is because chis seeds reduce visceral adipose tissue, which is belly fat that effects your body’s metabolism.
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 healthy growth of bones and muscles.
7. Build Muscle and Lose Weight
Chia seeds health benefits also include the ability to help you build lean muscle. They also help you burn fat and balance blood sugar levels. This is because these little seeds are one of the top-ranking plant-based protein sources. Plus, they’re high in antioxidants, which can help replace nutrients lost when exercising. They’re also high in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, iron, and niacin.
And with the ability to absorb water, the chia seed can prolong hydration as well as improve nutrient absorption of electrolytes. Furthermore, as stated above, eating these seeds keeps you fuller longer, which cuts down on cravings for foods that may get you off track.
The zinc found in chia seeds increase leptin in your body. Leptin is a hormone that regulates appetite, as wella s how your body spends energy. Plus, it regulates energy levels. This makes it helpful in improving stamina and endurance.
8. Fight Breast and Cervical Cancer
Chia seeds, being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, can limit the growth of breast and cervical cancer cells. Furthermore, researchers have found that chia causes cell death of cancer cells without harming healthy cells. (7)
Perhaps, then, chia seeds may be a good option for fighting various forms of cancer.
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 plague form mineralizing onto your teeth. Plus, it has an antibacterial effect, which keeps away the germs that cause bad breath.
Chia Seeds Side Effects
While chia seeds health benefits are many, there are a couple of side effects to consider. However, chia seeds side effects are minimal. There has been conflicting studies involving chia seeds and prostate cancer. One study showed that the fatty acid from the chia seed can increase the risk of prostate cancer. Although, at a later date, the study was shown to have some bias. (8)
Furthermore, a study in 2010 showed that the fatty acid did not increase prostate cancer risk. In fact, it decreased the risk in participants. (9)
And when it comes to chia seed consumption, be sure to drink plenty of water, and don’t overdo it. Eat them in moderation. This is because some people may experience stomach discomfort when eating chia seeds, due to the high fiber content.
Wondering how to prepare and eat chia seeds?
You can make a pudding out of chia seeds and use it in a variety of dessert dishes. For example, you’ll want to try this sweet potato and coconut chia pudding parfait. Delicious!