The fast-paced nature of modern living can sometimes get in the way of cooking or preparing healthy and nutrition-rich meals, but could chia seeds provide a quick and easy way to add a boost to your food? In this article, we will discuss the health benefits of chia seeds and why you should consider adding them to your wellness lifestyle. These seeds might be small, but they sure are mighty when it comes to packing essential vitamins and minerals!
The health benefits of chia seeds
If you read health and fitness blogs and stay up-to-date on the latest wellbeing trends, chances are you've heard of the health benefits of chia seeds. Chia can contribute greatly to a balanced lifestyle by improving heart health, regulating blood sugar levels, and giving a general energy boost, making them an excellent pre-workout ingredient.
They feature antioxidants as well as a whole host of nutrients, including calcium, fiber and protein. The versatility of these seeds is a big part of their appeal, making them easy to incorporate into a wide variety of meals and snacks, from smoothies to desserts. But before you run to your nearest health shop, let's have a look at what they are and what makes them so good for us.
What are chia seeds?
These edible black and white seeds come from Salvia hispanica, a desert plant and member of the mint family that grows across Central and South America. People have been documenting the health benefits of chia seeds for a long time—there's evidence that they've been around for centuries and were eaten by Mayan and Aztec civilizations. These ancient communities celebrated the energy-giving properties of the seeds and named them chia after the Mayan word for strength—which goes to show just how highly regarded this superfood was.
The Mayans weren't the only ones who knew the potential of chia seeds. The Tarahumara people from Mexico turned to chia to sustain them on incredibly long runs, sometimes hundreds of miles at a time. Their secret was a drink called iskiate—a mixture of chia seed, water, and lemon—that they attribute to giving them the energy and stamina to last seemingly impossible distances.
Today, you can add the health benefits of chia seeds to your nutrition and fitness regimen by purchasing them from your local health-food stores and increasingly, regular supermarkets. Their popularity in health-conscious circles means that they're getting easier to find. Plus, there are plenty of recipes to try (like this vanilla pudding recipe), so why not make a healthy change and start experimenting with chia today?
Chia seed benefits
Even though they've been touted as a superfood for many years, it's only recently that scientific studies have started looking at the health benefits of chia seeds. Some evidence has shown many impressive health-giving properties, with the vast majority attributing it to their low-calorie, high nutrient content.
Below you'll find some of the best chia seed benefits out there and find out how you can improve your overall health by including this fantastic food in your diet.
Full of quality protein
Having a good source of protein is the foundation of a nutritionally balanced diet, and one of the main benefits of chia seeds is that it's high in this essential macronutrient. If you eat a mostly vegan or vegetarian diet, it's incredibly important to make sure you are getting enough protein and chia seeds could provide the solution you're looking for.
Because chia seeds have just the right balance of amino acids, they increase the body's ability to get the most use out of their protein content. In order to repair the damage done to muscle tissue through strength training and increasing muscle mass, the body requires a more high-quality protein than usual. The amount found in chia is significantly higher than most plants, making them a fantastic source for anyone with a diet consisting of little or no animal products.
High in nutrients
Chia seeds' benefits form a long list of nutrients that are incredibly important for the body. These include essential nutrients for bone health like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. Calcium is necessary to increase bone density and strength, which over time can reduce the risk of developing conditions like osteoporosis. Compared with dairy products, the calcium content of chia seeds is, in many cases higher, making them a useful addition to the diets of vegans and the lactose intolerant.
May promote weight loss
It's healthy to take a holistic approach to weight loss, and enjoying a varied diet is one way you can do that. Our favorite little seeds can help, too. Chia seeds are incredibly absorbent and able to hold up to twelve times their weight in water as they expand in the stomach. They also contain a significant amount of fiber and protein, making you feel fuller and less inclined to get the munchies.
Studies have also shown that eating a diet that is rich in high-protein foods, such as chia, can lead to a reduction in the levels of ghrelin, which is a hormone that helps to stimulate feelings of hunger. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?
Good for your skin
When it comes to having skin that's healthy and glowing, it's a good idea to eat a diet containing plenty of antioxidants. The good news is that chia seeds are full of them, with research showing the amount to be double what we initially believed. The reason that this is so important for skin health is the ability of antioxidants to fight the damage caused by free radicals. The high levels of antioxidants also help to counter the effects of oxidative stress and help to repair general skin damage.
Increases energy and boosts performance
One of the best health benefits of chia seeds is its ability to provide you with a source of energy, helping you stay on task and on top of your day. If you find yourself yawning mid-afternoon and are looking for a healthy pick-me-up, consider giving chia seeds a try. These low-carb seeds have an optimal balance of protein, fat, and fiber which offers a stable source of energy that lasts for a long time.
Some athletes even add chia seeds to their carb-loading routine, which is thought to increase the storage of glycogen in both the muscles and the liver. This, in turn, provides better endurance and can assist in boosting energy levels during exercise.
Improves heart health
Alongside a healthy lifestyle, the inclusion of chia into a balanced diet can improve the health of your heart and may even reduce the risk of heart disease. There are studies that show that adding chia seeds can help people with hypertension by lowering their blood pressure. The presence of fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3s in these small-but-mighty seeds can also help the heart by reducing inflammation. This reduction in inflammation helps prevent strain on the blood vessels. The fiber found in chia is also particularly good at managing and regulating cholesterol levels, and this can help to limit coronary heart disease by keeping arteries unblocked.
How to eat chia
So, now that you've learned a bit about chia seeds, how are you going to take advantage of their health-promoting properties? Well, below is a list of straightforward ways to harness the power of the chia, making sure that they are delicious as well as nutritious! And the good news is that you can enjoy them in any state—raw, cooked, or baked—so your imagination is the only limit.
Here's how you can use them:
Stir into soups: Add chia seeds your favorite soups. Not only do they add a good bit of nutrition, but they also act as a thickening agent which add a lovely texture to the liquid.
Add to baking: That's right—you can add these wonderful seeds to almost any bake. Muffins, cakes, and bread are seriously healthier with a little sprinkle of chia!
Upgrade your cereal: Give your morning bowl of cereal, muesli or porridge the added power of chia to upgrade your morning and keep you going all the way through to lunch.
Strengthen your smoothie: Whether you drink your smoothie in the morning or after a workout, you can add chia to keep you going or aid your recovery.
As an egg substitute: If you are looking for a replacement for an egg, especially in vegan baking, then look no further. By mixing the chia seeds with water and allowing to rest for a short time, you can easily swap out the eggs with them.
Are chia seeds good for you?
There's a wealth of evidence that suggests that chia seeds are good for you. Looking at their nutritional composition, it's clear to see that they provide a fantastic range of health-giving nutrients that the body craves. If you look at the fact that they also contain a large amount of protein and calcium, combined with a low calorie count, they should be a serious contender for one of the best additions to your meals, before and after a workout.
Although chia seeds can benefit our bodies, it's even more essential to remember that eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly will ultimately lead to an improvement in health and fitness. If you'd like to find more recipes featuring chia seeds, give 8fit Pro a shot and learn how to incorporate chia seeds into your breakfast, lunch, or dinner.