As we strive to become healthier people in order to improve the quality of life we enjoy, it is always useful to find secret weapons along the way. Many people disregard the term ‘superfood’ as marketing hype, but when it comes to chia seeds there is no disputing this term! Chia seeds have been adored throughout history as a health boosting food, all the way back to the Aztecs and the Mayans. The word ‘chia’ actually means ‘strength’ in the Aztec language, and those who had to be active all day, such as messengers, would consume these seeds regularly to help keep their energy up.
High in Fiber
Chia seeds are incredibly high in fiber, with a two tablespoon serving providing 9.6 grams of the good stuff. That roughly equates to 38% of your recommended daily allowance of fiber. Getting an adequate amount of fiber in your diet is arguably the best way to avoid constipation, lower your cholesterol levels and to help to tackle the risk of heart disease and obesity. When eaten often, chia seeds could also help to keep your blood sugar levels at an optimum level.
A one ounce serving of chia seeds will provide your body with 4.6 grams of protein, 11.8 grams of carbohydrates and approximately 8 grams of heart healthy unsaturated fat! Research has also concluded that chia seeds are a complete source of protein, making them fantastic for those following a plant-based diet.
How to Consume Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are so small that it is easy to add them to practically anything. You can sprinkle them into smoothies or yogurts, over a salad or soup, and you can even scatter a teaspoon or two over your dinner plate - regardless of what it is! Because they are so small, this won't generally alter the taste or texture of your meal in any way!
Benefits to the Body
The omega-3 fats that are found in chia seeds are absolutely essential for keeping your brain and heart healthy. Other great sources of omega-3 fats are flaxseeds, walnuts and soybeans. Niacin and thiamine also contribute towards the function of your brain and both of these B vitamins can be found in chia seeds. By consuming two tablespoons of these amazing seeds each day, you will be hitting 12% of your RDA of these vitamins. Niacin and thiamine also help to convert the food you eat into energy, as well as contributing to the optimum function of your immune system.
In addition to all the great aforementioned reasons to consume chia seeds, they are also a great dietary source of selenium, iron, copper and calcium - essentially they are an all-round winner! Let’s take a closer look at why these things are essential for optimum health.
Selenium plays a pivotal role in the metabolic process and also has beneficial antioxidant properties. It is generally not common for a person to experience a selenium deficiency because of the relatively small amount that your body needs. However, if you aren’t eating a healthy, varied diet then you may begin to struggle with this. Chia seeds are a good source of selenium and can help you to meet this dietary need with ease.
If you often feel tired for no reason then you may be experiencing an iron deficiency. This is actually one of the most common nutritional deficiencies for people in the United States. The most important reason that we need adequate amounts of iron from dietary sources is that it is essential for the circulation of oxygen around the body. When you do not have enough iron, your body is unable to make enough red blood cells to transport the oxygen. Not only will this affect your energy levels, but it can also compromise your immune system function and your cognitive abilities.
Copper is important for the health of the heart, as well as supporting the immune system and the nervous system. When you have low copper levels your white blood cell count can also become low. This then impedes your bodies ability to fight infections and you could quickly become ill.
It is generally known that calcium plays an essential role in the health and maintenance of the bones. However, it also plays a key role in maintaining the natural rhythm of the heart, as well as the optimum function of the muscles.
Consuming a wide variety of healthy foods is the best way to ensure that you do not suffer from a deficiency of any vitamin or mineral. However, adding chia seeds to your existing diet can be an easy way to up your nutritional intake without making any drastic changes. This can help you to get a head start on your journey to better health while you evaluate and make changes to your diet.