Chia seeds are an exceptional superfood, and provide a long list of health benefits. While being surprisingly low in calories, they are a powerhouse of nutrients vital to both our brain and body. Being high in dietary fiber, they are also an excellent vegetarian source of protein, anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids and are packed full of free radical fighting antioxidants. They can be enjoyed in a smoothie, mixed with yogurt or sprinkled on a salad. Making chia seeds part of your regular diet is certainly something your body will thank you for.
30 g chia seeds
1. Chia seeds are packed full of antioxidants
One of chia’s top benefits is its impressively high antioxidant profile (1). Because chia seeds are also loaded with healthy fats, these antioxidants are particularly valuable from protecting these delicate fats from oxidation (2) (which occurs when certain fats are exposed to heat and light). Oxidation of fats causes them to become rancid, which can produce dangerous free radicals in the body, and free radicals have been linked to a long list of chronic diseases and cancers (3). Obtaining antioxidant from food sources (such as chia seeds) is preferred over their supplement counterparts, as the body can more readily absorb and assimilate nutrients from foods.
2. Chia seeds are low in calories and high in nutrients
The definition of a superfood is the relative amount of nutrients per calorie. Chia seeds contain only 127 calories per ounce, but in just that one ounce they offer 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of healthy fat, 18% of the RDA for calcium, 30% of the RDA for manganese and magnesium, and
3. Most of chia seed’s carbs come from fiber
11 of chia seed’s 12 grams of carbohydrate come in the form of indigestible dietary fiber, which does not affect blood sugar or require an insulin response from the body. For this reason, chia seeds are considered a very low carbohydrate food, as they actually only contain 1 gram of digestible carbohydrate. All of this fiber content allows chia seeds to absorb a large quantity of water, therefore expanding in your stomach and increasing fullness and satiety, potentially setting you up to eat fewer total calories (4). Fiber is also crucial for proper gut function and health, and ensures that your digestive tract remains balanced with healthy gut flora (aka, probiotics). (5)
4. Chia seeds are a great plant-based source of protein
By weight, chia seeds are actually 14% protein, which is quite high. Furthermore, the specific combination of amino acids of chia seed protein is easily used by the body (6), making it an even better plant based protein source. Protein is essential for weight loss, as it helps to control appetite and reduce cravings (7). Especially for vegetarians or vegans, chia seeds should be part of your daily diet.