If you have spent much time scrolling through facebook recently, I can guarantee that you have seen some sort of link to an article that is promoting one the many health benefits of that come with the consumption of one of the many different ‘superfoods' available today.
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If you actually clicked on one of those links, I can further guarantee that one of those superfoods mentioned was Chia Seeds.
The use of Chia seeds as a nutritional supplement has been increasing in popularity significantly in recent times, due to the positive effects they have been suggested to have on the health and wellbeing of the human body.
Interestingly, while only becoming a popular mainstream supplement recently, chia seeds have actually been consumed for thousands of years.
Chia Seeds are small black seeds that come from the Salvia Hispanica, a plant that is related to the Mint, and is found growing natively in areas of South America.
Chia seeds were once considered a prized food source by those from Aztec and Mayan society, with the word ‘Chia’ being the ancient Mayan word for ‘strength’. They were considered prized due to the ‘energy boosting’ properties they were suggested to have.
Funnily enough, the ancient Mayan and Aztec people were not actually far from the truth.
Chai seeds are in fact loaded with essential nutrients that can have an abundance of positive effects on the human body.
Here are some of the key proven benefits of chia seeds.
Chia seeds are full of antioxidants
Chia seeds typically stay fresh for a LONG time.
While this is quite convenient, it doesn’t happen for merely storage purposes.
Chia seeds contain a very high amount of antioxidants . So much so, they actually protect the quality fats found in the seeds from going rancid.
These antioxidants play an important role in the body by limiting the production of free radicals. Free radicals cause cellular damage which can lead to uncontrollable cellular growth, cell disease, and in some situations, even cancer.
By limiting the effects of, and reducing the production of, free radicals in the human body, Chia seeds can protect us from the onset of disease, while simultaneously reducing our risk of developing cancer .
Chia Seeds are extremely dense in nutrients
Nutrient density refers the amount of essential nutrients a serving of food contains relative to its energy content.
The Chia seed truly shines here, where a single 28 gram (~2 tablespoons) serving contains an unbelievable amount of vitamins and minerals (among other health promoting nutrients).
Chia Seeds are extremely high in the minerals Calcium, Manganese, Magnesium, Zinc, Potassium and, Phosphorus, while also containing Vitamins B1, B2, and B3.
Chia Seeds also contain a heap of fibre, protein, and Omega 3 fatty acids.
These vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients help the immune, cardiovascular, digestive, and respiratory systems of the body function efficiently, leading to a reduced risk of acute and chronic disease and cellular degradation.
And as a massive bonus?
You get all these health benefits for a mere 137 calories!
Not to mention that Chia Seeds are what is considered ‘whole grain’, are free of any gluten, and are typically grown organically.
This truly makes one Chia Seeds one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet .
Chia Seeds can help promote weight loss
As mentioned in the previous point, Chia Seeds are extremely high in Fibre.
In fact, while a single serving of Chia Seeds contain 12 grams of carbohydrates, 11 of those are derived from fibre, which does not actually get digested by the body.
This is fantastic, as it means that in reality, within this single serve, Chia Seeds only contain 1 gram of ‘usable carbohydrate’, making them a quality food choice that is very low in carbohydrate content.
Additionally, as fibre is not digested, it stays in the stomach and GI tract, where it slows the digestion of food significantly.
This slowed digestion process creates a feeling of ‘fullness’, leading to an automatic reduction in calories eaten throughout the day.
This reduction in calories can lead to significant weight loss, without the extreme feelings of hunger associated with heavy dieting.
In conjunction with their high fibre content, Chia Seeds are also very high in protein.
Protein is the most satiating of all macronutrients, creating the greatest sensation of fullness while also requiring a significant amount of energy to breakdown and digest in the gut.
This protein consumption can stop overeating and reduce appetite significantly, while also reducing the amount of energy actually absorbed from our food .
This combination of protein and fibre (not to mention the low energy content) creates a great tool that can help promote weight loss.
By adding Chia Seeds into the meals you eat throughout the day, you can reduce sensations of hunger, increase sensations of fullness, while also increasing the amount of energy used in digestive processes, causing a subsequent reduction in energy intake.
These, when combined with a healthy diet and exercise, can help cause significant reductions in weight.
Chia Seeds can lower our risk of cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes
In addition to fibre and protein, Chia Seeds are also high on Omega 3 fatty acids.
These have the ability to significantly lower the amount of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood, while also causing a subsequent increase in blood HDL (good) cholesterol.
In conjunction with the change blood cholesterol profile, these omega 3 fatty acids can cause a reduction in the levels of triglycerides in the blood, while also stimulating a reduction in cellular inflammation .
High levels of blood LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, and inflammation, with low levels of blood HDL cholesterol, can all contribute directly to the onset of both type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The consumption of Chia Seeds has the potential to negate these abhorrent risk factors, which will go a long way in reducing the risk of developing these diseases.
Chia Seeds help promote strong bones
As previously mentioned, Chia Seeds are extremely high in the minerals calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium.
These minerals play important roles in the production of new bone growth, and the maintenance of bone density.
By increasing our consumption of these minerals through the consumption of Chia Seeds, we can improve bone density, which can cause a reduction our risk of developing osteoporosis as we age.
Additionally, Chia Seeds are therefore a great alternative to dairy for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan, as they actually contain higher levels of these important minerals than most dairy products.
Chia Seeds could truly be considered a ‘super food’.
They contain a vast array of essential nutrients that can promote health.
This can lead to a reduction in disease and illness, while also promoting weight loss.
Chia Seeds can also be easily incorporated into meals, making them a simple and effective addition to our diet!
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2. Ames, B. N., Shigenaga, M. K., & Hagen, T. M. (1993). Oxidants, antioxidants, and the degenerative diseases of aging. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 90(17), 7915-7922. Viewed at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC47258/
3. US DARS (2016). Basic Report: 12006, Seeds, chia seeds, dried, National nutrient database for standard reference. Viewed at: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3610
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5. Vazquez-Manjarrez, N., Guevara, M., Tovar, A., Flores, A., Ayala, B., Radyx, M., … & Castaño-Jameson, M. (2014). Effect of a dietary portfolio (nopal, soy, oat, chia seed and inulin) on lipoprotein subclasses and LDL-cholesterol in Mexican subjects with hypercholesterolemia (1035.8). The FASEB Journal, 28(1 Supplement), 1035-8. Viewed at: http://www.fasebj.org/content/28/1_Supplement/1035.8.short