Although many people often associate chia seeds with the infamous ch-ch-ch-chia pet, their purpose goes beyond a ceramic puppy planter. Chia seeds are powerful little bundles that can offer serious health benefits. Beyond their impressive nutritional profile, chia seeds are versatile and quite delicious to eat. Here are 6 reasons to consider adding more chia into your diet, plus some useful tips for working them into your meals.
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds provide crucial, hard-to-find nutrients like omega 3s.
For such a tiny seed, chia packs a mighty punch. They are very high in fiber, high in protein, high in healthy and hard-to-find omega-3 fatty acids, and are even a good source of calcium and phosphorus. That’s in a single, tablespoon serving. All of these nutrients are packed into a lean little powerhouse, making chia an excellent go-to snack when you need energy.
Chia seeds prevent premature aging and free radical damage.
Due to an incredibly high quantity of phenols, chia seeds have incredible anti-inflammatory properties. A study in Mexico showed that they have the potential to thwart a huge amount of free radical damage. If you’re looking to prevent inflammatory damage like premature skin aging, try adding in some chia.
They aid in digestion.
With a high amount of fiber, chia promotes regularity and a healthy stool. Its gel-like consistency when soaked can also support the growth of beneficial probiotics in the gut. Your gut bacteria are essential to your health and can even influence your weight and immune system, so it’s important to support them in any way you can.
The ALA content in chia seeds may help fight cancer.
Alpha linoleic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in chia, has actually been shown in studies to limit the growth of cancer cells in both breast and cervical cancers. While the research needs to be continued, getting more omega-3s in your diet is generally a beneficial idea, as it also largely aids heart health.
They may help prevent diabetes.
Chia seeds are loaded with fiber and healthy fats, which combine to balance blood sugar levels. However, there have been some fascinating studies demonstrating chia’s ability to prevent metabolic disorders like insulin resistance, perhaps due to its high ALA content. Chia was shown to prevent the onset of insulin resistance in mice fed a sugar-rich diet, and was shown to reverse insulin resistance in mice that had already developed the condition. What a great reason to enjoy some chia!
Chia seeds improve energy and metabolism.
Chia seeds aren’t laden with sugar, but have actually been shown to have the same energizing benefits as a sugar-heavy sports drink. A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning showed that chia was as effective as sports drinks for endurance activities lasting over 90 minutes. Although chia may not have a huge impact on shorter workouts, it’s still a smart choice to fuel up pre-workout while improving metabolism and weight maintenance.
The Best Ways to Add Chia Seeds to Your Diet
Chia seeds are as versatile as they are healthy. You can sprinkle them on your breakfast or bake them into your cookies. Here are ten creative suggestions:
Sprinkle chia seeds on yogurt.
Adding chia seeds to your yogurt is a great way to eat these flavorless seeds. This combo has lots of health benefits since you’ll get probiotics from yogurt plus antioxidants from chia seeds.
Eat chia seed pudding.
Let two tablespoons of chia soak in two cups of milk (half coconut, half cashew is a good call) overnight. Chop in freshly diced mango or berries, maple syrup, pecans, and/or some vanilla extract, and enjoy!
Drink chia water to debloat.
If you’re bloated or want to keep hunger at bay, put 1 tablespoon of chia seeds into a glass of water and drink. You can also add them in teas or coffee.
Mix them with smoothies.
You can make your smoothies more nutritious by mixing them with chia seeds. Add one tablespoon per glass.
Replace eggs with chia seeds.
Chia seeds can be used as an egg substitute in most vegan recipes. When mixed with water, chia seeds turn into a jelly-like texture. 1 tablespoon of chia seeds mixed 3 tablespoons of water is equivalent to one egg. Use them to bake cookies, muffins, pancakes and so on.
Make your soup thicker.
If you want to thicken your soup look no further than chia seeds. Ground chia seeds are the best option but whole seeds will work too.
Mix them with guacamole or hummus.
You won’t even notice a difference in your dip if you add a few seeds. Your dips will be healthier because they’ll be loaded with protein and fiber. In fact, you can reduce the calorie content of your dips by replacing high-calorie ingredients like avocado with chia gel.
Add ground chia to breakfast foods and snacks.
It’s much easier to add chia to oatmeal, protein pancakes, and homemade energy bars when it’s in powder form. Ground chia seeds also make a good substitute for breadcrumbs in different meat recipes.
Sprinkle chia seeds on peanut butter.
Sprinkle chia seeds on peanut butter before spreading it on bread or celery sticks.
Buy chia bars.
Buy chia bars if you don’t have time to make your own energy bars. You’ll get different flavors including acacia berry, apple cinnamon, coconut, chocolate and so on. One bar contains 100 calories.