The demand for chia seeds is skyrocketing and with good reason. When prepared properly they are easy to digest, loaded with an array of nutrients and pack a powerful energy boost.
In fact in ancient time’s chia seeds were known as ‘runner’s food’ because runners and warriors ate them as fuel to run long distances or when going into battle.
The benefits of chia seeds have been widely researched and include improving digestive health, promoting heart health, boasting your energy and metabolism, and can even help treat diabetes.
But before we delve into the top 7 benefits that come from eating chia, let’s take a look at the nutrients available from chia seeds.
Chia seeds are;
- High in antioxidants
- High in vitamins and minerals (including calcium, potassium and magnesium)
- Contains 37% dietary fibre
- Contains 20% protein
- High in omega-3 fats (20% Omega-3 ALA)
But that’s just the highlights, chia seeds also contain vitamins A,B, E and D; minerals, including iron, thiamine, iodine, niacin and sulphur and essential fatty acids, alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid.
7 Benefits from Eating Chia Seeds
Here are 7 powerful reasons to eat chia seeds.
1. Boost Your Metabolism & Lose Weight
Believe it or not, chia seeds are one of the most powerful sources of plant-based protein on the planet. This plant based protein is vital for building muscle, balancing blood sugar and burning fat.
Not only that, chia seeds, which contain high amounts of zinc, help with your body’s production of leptin, which is your appetite regulating hormone. If you’ve been on the diet merry-go-round then your body’s attempt to curb those cravings and manage appetite can be thwarted. As well as that, studies have shown that chia seeds when consumed, reduces visceral adipose tissues (aka ‘belly fat’)…..giving you another great reason to include chia seeds in your daily diet.
2. Promotes Heart Health
By regularly consuming chia seeds you may be less likely to develop atherosclerosis (a build-up of plague in your arteries) due to this seeds ability to reverse oxidative stress. In addition, the high amounts of omega-3s (the good fats) in chia seeds have been shown to reverse inflammation, lower blood pressure and regulate cholesterol.
3. Improve Digestion
Been super-high in fibre, one serving of chia seeds every day can provide you with your daily recommended fibre intake. In fact, the first thing you’ll notice when you start eating chia seeds (the right way, see more about that below) is it’s ‘poop effect’. Fibre (which you can only get from plants) is essential for regulating bowel movements and making a healthy poo.
Also, when consumed, or even better when soaked before consuming, chia seeds turn gelatinous. This gel-like substance is the soluble fibre in the chia seeds. Imagine the cleansing effect of this jelly going through your gut drawing out, soaking up and eliminating the toxins built up in your intestines, pure magic!
And there’s more; chia seeds work as a prebiotic that will aid the growth of good bacteria in the gut, and clinical studies have shown that chia seeds can induce satiation, curbing hunger and suppressing that appetite.
4. Skin & Aging
While we all know that you can’t halt the aging process, you can stop doing the things that is speeding it up. Research has shown that chia seeds are one of the richest foods in antioxidants. Antioxidants are responsible for repairing your skin from daily oxidative stress. Adding chia seeds to your diet can prevent premature aging caused by free radical damage and inflammation.
5. Fight Breast & Cervical Cancer
Another great reason to eat this amazing little seed is its ability to fight cancer. A study published in 2013 in The Journal of Molecular Biochemistry found that alpha lipoic acid (ALA) found in abundance in chia seeds, limited the growth of cancer cells in cervical and breast cancers. I look forward to seeing more research in this area.
6. Stronger Bones
Calcium is a mineral that you can get in abundance from plant based sources. In fact one ounce of chia seeds will give you 18% of your daily recommended intake of calcium.
7. Can Help Treat Diabetes
A study has shown that chia seeds can help prevent metabolic disorders like dyslipidemia and insulin resistance, which are two factors associated with the onset of diabetes. This is because of the rich supply of alpha-linolenic acid and dietary fibre contained within the chia seed.
How to Eat Chia Seeds the Right Way
I’m a firm believer that ‘if you’re gonna do it, do it right’. This is so true when it comes to eating chia seeds.
If you’ve been sprinkling a spoonful of dry chia seeds onto your meals here and there, you are not unlocking the power of this amazing little seed.
Soak (AKA Sprout) Your Chia Seeds
Chia seeds contain digestive inhibitors (as do all seeds). Digestive inhibitors are nature’s way of protecting the seeds as they lay on the ground waiting for the perfect conditions to germinate. Only when the seed germinates are the digestive inhibitors removed and the full nutritional power released.
So how do you germinate chia seeds before you eat them?
Don’t worry, there’s no soil or potting involved. All you need to do is soak the seeds in liquid (water or a plant-based milk), ideally overnight but even 20 minutes will go a long way to releasing its potential.
My 2 Favourite Ways to Eat Chia Seeds
Just to be clear, eating chia seeds without soaking/sprouting won’t cause you any harm but you definitely won’t be getting the full blown benefits that I’ve talked about here. Plus if you’re going to spend you hard earned ‘dough’ on fancy organic chia, then you really want to get the most out of it.
Here are the easiest and my two favourite ways to prepare and eat chia seeds;
1. Soak them overnight & add to a smoothie
Using a smoothie cup put in 2 tablespoons of chia seeds and add some liquid (aim for around a 1:8 ratio of chia seeds to liquid). Stir the seeds for a minute until they’ve combined properly. Then leave them to soak overnight. In the morning add your greens and fruit to the same cup, add more liquid and whiz it up. Easy peasy!
2. Chia seed pudding
This is my staple breakfast; chia seed pudding or porridge as I mostly call it. You can get my ‘go-to’ recipe over here. I usually prepare enough for 3 days at a time using 1 large container that I will leave in the fridge.
Chia Seeds Can Make You Dehydrated
Remember that chia seeds can hold up to 12 times their weight in liquid, so when soaked before consumed they’re wonderful for preventing dehydration. But if eaten dry, they can absorb water from your body causing you to become dehydrated.
They’re no better time to start eating chia seeds than now. These are available in all good supermarkets today. Just add some coconut milk (my favourite), a sprinkle of fruit, something for a bit of crunch and you’ve got an easy delicious breakfast.
Your turn: What’s your favourite way to eat chia seeds?