The versatile nature of this ancient crop, health benefits and variety of uses inspired the top 20 benefits of chia seeds list to be created. From omega 3 fatty acids and high protein to being used as a sustainable, allergen free replacement for numerous foods.
Research has just begun to show us the benefits from chia seeds, how they can be used to better our diets and improve our nutrition on a large scale.
- Chia seeds are an excellent replacement for foods that need to be gluten free. Many people don’t know that chia can be ground into a fine powder and used to make any recipe a wheat flour could make. Used as an oil, flour, topping and eaten raw they have a variety of uses.
- They will soon be a more sustainable alternative for omega 3 fish oil. Chia seeds contain 2.5 grams of naturally occurring omega 3 fatty acids per tablespoon. When combined with DHA and EPA the formula is a more sustainable alternative to the over fishing problems caused by the popularity of fish oils. As western culture consumes more omega 6 fatty acids we require more omega 3 to balance levels out.
- The nutrition content in chia seeds contains high fiber, protein, fatty acids, potassium, magnesium and iron. High nutrition in a raw, easy to grow crop backs up the importance of a food that has been around for centuries.
- Pesticides and fungicides are not necessary for the crop. However, it is very easy to find brands that have certified organic chia seed crops at a relatively low cost.
- Unlike flax seeds that have a hard outer shell and have to be processed in order to get to the nutrition, chia seeds have a very porous outer layer and will readily absorb moisture in a matter of minutes. This makes it easy for the body to process and digest the nutrition inside chia seeds.
- They can be used to make a very popular drink in South America call chia fresca. This is essentially the seeds soaked into a fruit juice and drank in that form. A simple chia pudding can also be made using the same method and substituting almond milk.
- The high fiber and gel like substance that forms around wet chia seeds benefits digestion and can be used to reduce caloric intake.
- Studies have also shown a good balance in the amino acid profile. Amino acids are vital to life and our muscles have high levels of amino acids that should be supplemented.
- Because they are a seed they have concentrated amounts of energy. So when used as a food we require less calories and they benefit an active lifestyle.
- For certain animals like horses chia can be used as an alternative to the unnatural grain diet. Animals often have visible health improvements when using this diet change. Chia seeds are something that these animals would come across when grazing random fields in nature.
- Chia seeds are not known as an allergen. People who have food allergies don’t have any reactions to chia. Since chia can act as a wheat flour replacement in recipes with a pleasant taste its an option for people allergic to wheat and other foods.
- Nutritional research has recorded significant levels of alpha linolenic acid which the body turns into EPA and DHA the primary elements found in fish oils. These types of fatty acids are known to have heart and cardiovascular benefits.
- Natural chemical compounds in chia seeds are known to balance blood glucose levels. This is one of the many benefits of chia seeds helpful for diabetics.
- Due to the nutrition content and health benefits from the natural compounds chia is an ideal food for athletes especially runners. Native Mexican runners (equivalent to our postal system) would take these with them on long journeys because of their lightweight and apparent nutrition levels.
- When properly stored in a dry, cool place chia seeds stay fresh and store for long periods of time even up to 2 years.
- The same properties that provide the cardiovascular benefits in combination with the omega fatty acids have also been shown to help relieve joint pain. Another benefit for athletes.
- Chia meets the requirements explained in the paleo diet and can be used to add more nutrition in order to get numerous vitamins and minerals.
- For crop growers chia pollinates quickly due to the unique shape of flowers stemming from it. They usually grow in large clusters which also explains why it grows so easily in the wild. If you live in California you have probably walked right by a chia plant without noticing.
- The extraction of chia oil keeps a lot of the fatty acids and natural components intact which is why its widely used for medicinal and supplemental purposes.
- High protein content allows this seed to replace egg protein and provide an ideal source or protein for vegetarians and vegans.
There is so much more that could be added to the benefits of chia seeds list. The main topics and most common benefits have been listed to give an idea of what can be done with chia and provide a brief description of what we know so far.