In case you haven’t heard, chia is the new nutrition powerhouse on the block! Chia seeds, members of the Salvia Hispanica family, are packed with a variety of crucial nutrients and are considered to be among the healthiest foods on the planet. The ancient Aztecs and Mayans, who were well aware of this fact, used chia seeds both as a medicine and as a part of religious ceremonies. Chia seeds got their name from “chia”, the ancient Mayan word for strength, which neatly sums up their valued energy-boosting properties.
In the modern health-oriented community, chia seeds have gained popularity as a food item that’s loaded with an incredible amount of nutrients – two tablespoons (one ounce) of chia seeds contain 137 calories, including 9 grams of fat, 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and 12 grams of carbohydrates, plus vitamins and minerals.
Their health benefits are similar to those of flax seeds, but there’s a big difference: chia seeds don’t need to be ground prior to consumption and can last up to two years with no refrigeration, thanks to their abundance with antioxidants. In addition, they can be absorbed by the body as seeds, unlike flaxseeds.
Their nutritional value and pleasant, nutty flavor makes them a great addition to all kinds of foods and beverages. Their versatility is amazing – chia seeds can be added to cereal, oatmeal, sauces and salads, mixed into drinks and baked goods or mixed with water and made into a gel. According to nutritionists, taking one ounce of chia seeds per day is one of the most convenient ways to boost your intake of protein, fiber, antioxidants and healthy fatty acids and rejuvenate your entire body. Here’s a list of some of their impressive benefits:
- They contain phytochemicals with antioxidant properties
More specifically, cyricetin, quercetin and kaempferol, which are well known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Also, did we mention that chia seeds pack four times more antioxidants than blueberries?
- They’re gluten-free and vegan-friendly
And can be used as an egg substitute in all kinds of dishes. Just mix them with water to create a gel and add them to your favorite recipes. And because of their high nutritional profile, chia seeds can help vegans and vegetarians meet their recommended daily nutrition requirements pretty effortlessly since they can be added to almost all kinds of vegan dishes.
- They protect digestive health
Due to the high concentration of fiber, chia seeds are considered a super-food for the digestive tract and can be especially helpful in the prevention of colon cancer.
- They’re also brain food
Chia seeds contain eight times more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon and three times more iron than spinach!
- They’re great for the skin health
Chia seeds contain vitamin E, which helps combat inflammation and wrinkles, keeping your skin smooth and soft.
- They’re packed with crucial vitamins and minerals
Not only that chia seeds contain seven times more vitamin C than oranges, but only 2 tablespoons of chia provide 18% of the daily recommended value for calcium, 35% for phosphorus, 24% of magnesium and around 50% for manganese.
- They are a low-carb friendly food
If you’re on a low-carb diet, chia can be the perfect addition to it. Two tablespoon of chia contains 12 grams of carbohydrate, 11 of which are fiber.
- They contain a significant amount of protein
They are about 15% protein, which is very impressive when compared to most plants. They also contain a good balance of 8 essential amino acids.
What more could anyone ask for?
Try blending chia seeds into your healthy smoothies, add them to your favorite salads, batter for pancakes and dough for muffins or bread. The options are pretty much endless and very tasty.
Or, add them to a cup of yogurt for an extra boost of protein. Leave them to soak for 15 minutes and they will substantially grow in size. Thanks to their high amount of fiber, consuming chia seeds on an empty stomach will kick start your metabolism, keep you full for longer and help you lose weight faster!