Chia seeds on your smoothies, chia seeds on your salads, chia seeds on everything! For a lot of people, this ubiquitousness is such a huge turn-off. It’s just another food fad, right? “Another *wonder food* ingredient being peddled around by marketers who are looking to make a quick buck off fitness enthusiasts and bandwagoners alike.
But alas, chia seeds are the real deal, people. A common misconception is that ingesting the seeds are a modern fad, something that popped up in the last decade or so. But this is absolutely not true. Chia seeds were an important foodstuff for Mayans and Aztecs centuries ago, long before hipsters and fitness-obsessed soccer moms started sprinkling them on every edible thing they could lay their hands on.
In case you’re still not convinced why you should get your chia seeds fix on, here are ten scientifically-proven benefits that you can get from eating them.
1. They are jam-packed with nutrients.
Chia seeds are tiny, but the amount of nutrients that are packed into those little things can rival even the most expensive of multivitamins. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds alone can give you a similar amount of calcium in a half cup of milk, the same amount of potassium in a banana, three times the amount of iron and magnesium in a cup of spinach, and almost thirty percent of your RDA (recommended dietary allowance) of manganese and phosphorus.
2. They can lower your “bad” cholesterol levels.
According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, chia seeds are an excellent source of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (also known as the “good” cholesterol). And when substituted for common cooking oils such as corn or palm oil, the ALA (alpha linolenic acid) content of the seeds are able to keep triglyceride levels at a stable level, thus reducing one’s risk for obesity.
3. They can help you regulate your blood sugar.
In a 2007 study published in Diabetes Care, a certain organic chia variant with white seeds called Salba was able to reduce the occurence of risk factors that are linked to Type 2 Diabetes such as high blood pressure and others.
4. They are chock-full of antioxidants.
Chia seeds have a significant amount of antioxidants that help the seeds from going rancid too early). So, why buy antioxidant supplements (which some studies have pointed out aren’t as effective as they are marketed to be) when you can get all of your antioxidant needs from chia seeds? Antioxidants help reduce the production of free radicals in the body, which in turn, slows down aging and reduces your risk for cancer.
5. They can help you bulk up.
A whopping fifteen percent of a chia seed’s weight is made out of protein. In fact, chia seeds are among the best plant protein sources that you can possibly get. If you’re vegan or vegetarian and are looking into bulking up, then chia seeds can be a great alternative source of protein for you.
6. They are a great source of energy.
Legend has it that Aztec warriors of old would consume a handful of chia seeds before every battle. The seeds would keep them full and provide them their energy throughout the day. It is said that they can go for a full 24 hours on just a handful of chia seeds alone.
Best of all, there must be a bit of truth to this legend according to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning. The study revealed that a half-Gatorade and a half-chia seeds mix can improve one’s physical performance the same way that a full bottle of Gatorade can do. Of course, the Gatorade/chia mix has significantly less sugar than a whole bottle of Gatorade.
7. They can keep your digestive system healthy.
Almost all of the carb content in chia seeds is fiber. In just two tablespoons of the seeds, you get an impressive ten grams of fiber, or one-third of the recommended intake of fiber for the day. Fiber makes you feel full, prevents constipation, and makes bowel movements easy.
8. They are gluten-free.
Celiac? Then you’re in luck, chia seeds are absolutely gluten-free, so you eat as much of them as you like.
9. They can keep you happy.
Among the amino acids that chia seeds contain is tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, one of the body’s major happy hormone (along with endorphin, dopamine, and oxytocin).
10. They can keep you hydrated.
Chia seeds can retain a LOT of water. Due to the seeds’ outer hydrophilic layer, they can absorb water ten times more than its original weight. This makes organic chia seeds a perfect addition to shakes and smoothies.