Chia seeds are among the healthiest foods on the planet. Despite their small size, chia seeds are packed full of important nutrients that can have important benefits for your body and brain.
Chia seeds are relatively easy to find in any major supermarket and are only slightly smaller than a strawberry seed. They are black in color and have a very mild, nutty flavor.
Probable health benefits of consuming chia seeds
Eating of plant-based foods of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many adverse health conditions (obesity, diabetes, heart disease) and overall mortality. Maintaining a diet high in plant-based foods has also been shown to support a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
Chia and the power of fiber
The easiest way to increase fiber intake is to increase your consumption of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and unprocessed grains. Just one ounce of chia seeds provides 10 grams of fiber, almost half the daily recommendation for a woman over 50.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Institute of Medicine suggests that men under the age of 50 consume 38 grams per day and women under the age of 50 consume 25 grams per day. For adults over 50 years age, the recommendation for men is 30 grams per day and for women is 21 grams per day. Most people are not consuming even half of that recommendation in a day.
Importance of Fiber:
High fiber diets have been shown to decrease the prevalence in flare-ups of diverticulitis by absorbing water in the colon and making bowel movements easier to pass. Eating a healthful, fruit and vegetable and fiber-filled diet can reduce pressure and inflammation in the colon. Although the cause of diverticular disease is still unknown, it has been repeatedly associated with a low fiber diet.
Cardiovascular disease and cholesterol
Higher fiber intakes have also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A review of 67 separate controlled trials found that even a modest 10-gram per day increase in fiber intake reduced LDL (the harmful type cholesterol) as well as total cholesterol.
Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may even play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation, consequently decreasing the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
Digestion and detox
A diet with adequate fiber prevents constipation and promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract. Regular bowel movements are crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool.
High fiber diets are associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes and eating high fiber meals to keep blood sugar stable. Based on a review of findings from several large studies, The National Institute of Medicine found that diets with 14 grams fiber for every 1,000 calories were associated with significant reductions in the risk of both coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Bigger fiber intakes and high fiber diets have been shown to help with weight loss. Foods that are high in fiber help to keep you feeling full longer and are usually lower in calories.
Omega-3s to fight heart disease
Omega-3s can decrease the risk for thrombosis and arrhythmias, which can lead to heart attack, stroke and sudden cardiac death. It may also decrease LDL, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reduce atherosclerotic plaque, improve endothelial function, and slightly lower blood pressure. The richest sources of plant-based omega-3s are chia seeds, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, hempseeds, hempseed oil and walnuts.
How to incorporate more chia seeds into your diet?
You can eat them raw or cooked. Sprinkle chia seeds on cereal, yogurt, oatmeal or smoothies. Add them to baked goods like bread and muffins.
If are experimenting with vegan baking or you just run out of eggs, you can mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water, let them sit for a few minutes, and watch them turn into a gel that you can use as a substitute for eggs in baking.
Try some of these healthy and delicious recipes using chia:
Pumpkin spiced steel cut oats
Lemon raspberry zucchini bars
Homemade KIND bars
Spaghetti and lentil meatballs
Banana pumpkin power smoothie