Chia Seed Benefits

Who would have known that Chia pets, the small ceramic pots sprouting grass hair, would become one of the world's most popular superfoods 30 years later? Chia seeds have gained superfood status and a massive resurgence of popularity, only this time, it’s due to their powerful nutritional value and touted health benefits. Not their marketable grass hair growing capabilities.  We cover the 6 advantages of having Chia seeds in your diet.

What Are Chia Seeds

Chia, also known as Salvia hispanica is native to Southern Mexico and Northern Guatemala and surprisingly related to mint. Chia was used alongside corn, beans, and amaranth by ancient Mesoamerican cultures, namely the Aztecs and Mayas, for food, cosmetics, and religious rituals [R]. Recently however, chia seeds have become known as a tiny superfood.

Chia Seed Nutrition Facts

Chia Seed Nutrition

A one ounce serving of chia seeds contains the following micro and macro nutrients.

  • Fiber: 11 grams.
  • Protein: 4 grams.
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are omega-3s).
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDI.
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDI.
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDI.
  • Phosphorus: 27% of the RDI.
  •  Zinc, vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2.

Chia Seed Benefits 

1. Chia Seeds Have a Massive Amount Of Nutrients   

Just one ounce of chia seeds contains 141 calorie, 7g of healthy omega fats, and 3g of protein, and a macro breakdown of 30% healthy fats, 30-35% carbohydrates, and 25% protein [R]. Calorie for calorie, Chia seeds are one of the most nutrient dense, fiber and protein packed seeds on the planet. Chia contains are also extremely nutrient dense with vitamins a,b,k,e,d, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

2. Chia Seeds Have A Ton of Fiber

Chia seeds are comprised of 30-40% fiber, and just one ounce contains 10g. 2020 U.S Dietary guidelines recommend consuming 25-30g of dietary fiber per day.

Fiber’s most prominent role is helping your digestive health. Fiber comes in two forms, soluble and insoluble. Chia seeds contain 85-93% insoluble fiber which promotes the movement of material through your digestive system and increases bowel movement. Essentially, it’s like a broom that sweeps your system, so you can easily pass bowel movements on a consistent basis. Therefore, adding chia seeds to your diet, may help normalize bowel movement and relieve constipation. Fiber also slows down digestion and allows better nutrient absorption, lowering cholesterol and maintaining stable glucose levels [R]. It’s also important to note, that since all of the carbohydrate content comes from fiber, chia seeds contain zero net carbs.  

RELATED ARTICLE The Truth Behind How Much Fiber You Really Need 

3. Chia Seeds Contain Healthy Omega-3 (ALA)

Chia seeds contain alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) and have more omega-3 content than flaxseeds [R]. ALA is a type of polyunsaturated fat [PUFA] with a 0.3:0.35 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that ALA may help prevent and treat cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, cholesterol and reverse atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels) [R]. Additionally, research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids contain powerful anti-inflammatory effects and antimicrobial activity [R].

A very large-scale cohort of more than 63,000 participants found that individuals with higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, had a 17% reduced risk of cardiovascular events and mortality rates. The Nurses’ Health Study found a 40% reduced risk of sudden cardiac death in women who ate the highest amounts of ALA. An additional Cardiovascular Health Study cohort with more than 5000 study participants, ages 65 years and older, found a 50% lower risk of fatal ischemic heart disease with higher intakes of ALA.

4. Chia Seeds Have Powerful Antioxidants Polyphenols

Chia seeds contain polyphenols which are antioxidants, and are comprised of nearly 10% phenolic compounds. Antioxidants have the ability to scavenge free radicals, and reduce the risk of chronic disease states, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s [R].

5. Chia Seeds Are An Amazing Source Of Protein

Chia seeds contain anywhere from 14-25% protein content, dependent upon growing conditions. They also have a great amino acid profile, with high levels of arginine, leucine, valine, and lysine, which have been shown to increase oxygen and blood flow as well as stimulate muscle protein synthesis.

6. Chia Seeds Help Hydration

Chia seeds absorb nearly thirty times their weight in water, which means they help regulate body fluids and retain electrolytes. Athletes can make what’s referred to as, “chia gel” which will help them with hydration and better athletic performance.

Chia Seeds Benefits In Summary 

Animal studies have shown that chia seeds may provide potential benefits to positively influence cholesterol levels, weight loss, and increased satiety. However, human clinical trials are still lacking in evidence, and have not shown any specific benefits of chia seeds on cardiovascular events, or risk factors such as weight loss, blood pressure, glucose levels, and inflammation. Yet, chai seeds do provide valuable micronutrients and superfood plant compounds like ALA and polyphenols.

In summary, the nutritional benefits of Chia Seeds are that they are an amazing source of

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Healthy Omega-3 (ALA)
  • Naturally Gluten Free
  • Powerful Antioxidant properties
  • Anti-Inflammatory properties 

Chia benefits - Swolverine

6 Reasons Why You Need Start Chia Seeds In Your Diet: Takeaway

Chia seeds are packing some serious nutritional benefits. In fact, just one tablespoon of chia seeds contains nearly 20% of your daily recommend fiber goals, which can help with satiety and digestive health. Chia seeds are also packed with protein and essential amino acids arginine, which promotes increased nitric oxide levels, and the branched chain amino acids valine and leucine which promote the muscle building process. Naturally gluten free and loaded with healthy omega-3 fats, chia seeds make an appealing addition to your diet.

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Blondeau, Nicolas et al. “Alpha-linolenic acid: an omega-3 fatty acid with neuroprotective properties-ready for use in the stroke clinic?.” BioMed research international vol. 2015 (2015): 519830. doi:10.1155/2015/519830

Ullah R, Nadeem M, Khalique A, et al. Nutritional and therapeutic perspectives of Chia (Salvia hispanica L.): a review. J Food Sci Technol. 2016;53(4):1750-1758. doi:10.1007/s13197-015-1967-0

Grancieri M., Martino H.S.D., Gonzalez de Mejia E. Chia Seed (Salvia hispanica L.) as a Source of Proteins and Bioactive Peptides with Health Benefits: A Review. Compr. Rev. Food Sci. Food Saf. 2019;18:480–499. doi: 10.1111/1541-4337.12423.

Knez Hrnčič, Maša et al. “Chia Seeds (Salvia hispanica L.): An Overview-Phytochemical Profile, Isolation Methods, and Application.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 25,1 11. 18 Dec. 2019, doi:10.3390/molecules25010011

Koh AS, Pan A, Wang R, Odegaard AO, Pereira MA, Yuan JM, Koh WP. The association between dietary omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular death: the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2015 Mar;22(3):364-72.

Albert CM, Oh K, Whang W, Manson JE, Chae CU, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Hu FB. Dietary α-linolenic acid intake and risk of sudden cardiac death and coronary heart disease. Circulation. 2005 Nov 22;112(21):3232-8.

Lemaitre RN, King IB, Mozaffarian D, Kuller LH, Tracy RP, Siscovick DS. n− 3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids, fatal ischemic heart disease, and nonfatal myocardial infarction in older adults: the Cardiovascular Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Feb 1;77(2):319-25.

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