In our busy lives it’s often hard to get all the nutrients our body requires to stay healthy. It’s suggested you eat a variety of foods in order to get in your daily dose of such nutrients like fiber, protein, magnesium and fat (the healthy ones, of course) but sometimes it’s a challenge to stick to a meal plan and eat balanced.
Well, what if we told you a solution that by simply adding a small amount – no more than two tablespoons – of this superfood to your diet you can boost your meals and make them even healthier! Hard to believe but let us further explain…
The superfood we’re referring to is chia seeds – they can pack a nutritional punch and offer many health benefits.
What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds date back to Aztec times and were found primarily in Mexico. They were used for medicinal and nutritional benefits and added to many meals, and turned into oil and flour.
It wasn’t until the 1990s when American scientists took note of this nutritional powerhouse and now chia is grown in Argentina, Peru, Mexico and Bolivia and is widely available.
Chia seeds grow from a flowering plant and come in different varieties. Don’t let their size fool you though; as in the case of chia seeds, big things come in small packages.
Types of chia seeds
As we mentioned, chia seeds come in a few different varieties, but don’t think that different forms mean less of the good stuff. No matter how you enjoy chia seeds they’ll always provide you with essential nutrients and health benefits.
Ground or milled chia: While milling chia seeds, hot temperatures are not used so they do not lose their omega-3 content. Ground or milled chia seeds are easy to incorporate into meals and used in flour as well.
White and black chia: This version is the whole seed. Both rank similar on the nutrition chart but the black ones have slightly higher antioxidant content. When it comes to taste, there is no difference. Generally the white seeds can be pricier, so the only real difference here is color.
Pre-hydrated chia: This form of chia has absorbed liquid and it best used in puddings and beverages. The only downfall to pre-hydrated chia seeds are they don’t have as long of a shelf-life as the regular seeds so something to be mindful of.
Nutritional value of chia seeds
So why don’t we finally reveal to you all the nutrients these little seeds are holding?
Despite their size, chia seeds can provide you with many nutrients that are essential to good health. From fiber to omega-3s – 5 out of the 9 grams of fat are from omega-3s – you can get in your daily requirements with ease by sprinkling some chia in your meals.
Furthermore, these nutrients aren’t just for well-being. Chia seeds offer many health benefits as well which will make you want to enjoy them even more.
Health benefits of chia seeds
It seems unfair to limit the list of health benefits of chia seeds to just 9, but these are enough to make you eat chia daily:
1. They provide fiber. Fiber is essential to good health. It can aid in healthy cholesterol as well as maintaining a healthy weight. Additionally, fiber keeps things moving along – if you catch our drift. Getting in enough fiber than is a sure-fire way to better health.
2. They provide antioxidants. Your body’s defense against free radical damage is through antioxidants. You may have heard berries and red wine are high in antioxidants but you can now have some more variety by eating chia.
3. They make you feel full. It may not seem like a health benefit but it truly is. Why? Well, when we feel hungry or experience sugar crashes, we generally reach to the first thing near us – and trust us that is rarely a healthy option. Feeling full reduces sugar cravings and overeating, which means healthier weight – which ultimately reduces our risk of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
4. They provide us with protein. Chia seeds pack protein which is important for good health. Better yet, they are a great option for vegetarians to still get in their protein requirements. Protein is useful for muscle recovery, feeling full and potentially aiding in weight loss.
5. They can make bones and teeth strong. Lactose allergies and intolerances are among the most common food allergies out there so many people can’t get their calcium fix through dairy products. Chia seeds then are useful because of their calcium content, making them a great alternative to dairy. By soaking them and adding almond milk they create a yogurt or pudding-like texture so don’t feel like you’re missing out!
6. They help your heart. We love any food that’s also heart-friendly and you should, too! According to the Cleveland Clinic, chia seeds help support a strong heart because they can benefit blood pressure in diabetics as well as aid in healthy cholesterol numbers.
7. They provide energy. When you’re full and well nourished that can translate to having more energy. Additionally, research published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning revealed that chia seeds were more effective than typical sports drinks in improving workout performance.
8. They can replace eggs. Eggs are a superfood in their own right but even though the cholesterol claims have subsided, you still may want to enjoy them in moderation. Once again, chia seeds come to the rescue in this regard. When soaked, chia seeds create a gel which packs the nutrient value of an egg. This is what makes them a great alternative to eggs and also useful as an egg substitute for baking.
9. They provide healthy fat. When we hear the term fat we get concerned, but there are healthy fats essential for our body. Chia seeds provide omega-3s which have been shown to boost brain health and overall well-being.
Right way to eat chia seeds
Now that we know why chia seeds are amazing, there are different ways you can incorporate them into your diet.
If you opt for the seed variety, chia seeds can be sprinkled onto meals and into smoothies. The ground variety is great in flour so feel free to bake some healthy treats. Lastly, the soaked version is how you can utilize chia seeds as an egg replacement. It can also be added to liquids to make a simple glass of water into an energy drink.
Chia seeds are truly a superfood and for very good reasons. Something so small and so easy to use is a great way to boost your diet and get the most out of the foods you’re eating. Adding them to smoothies is a great way to get added benefits and make the most of the nutrients.
If you’re unfamiliar with chia seeds, why not visit your local health food store and check out the different varieties and brands. We’re sure you can find one that fits your needs!
Our busy lives take energy! We need energy to work, we need energy to perform activities, heck we even need energy for socializing. As you can seem a lot of our energy becomes depleted by outside sources.
There are many superfoods you can enjoy if you want to protect your heart. From salmon, to blueberries, to even a glass of wine, these foods all contain the nutrients your heart needs to keep beating strong.