What Are Chia Seeds?
Table of Contents
- What Are Chia Seeds?
- Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts
- Benefits of Chia Seeds – Are They Good for You?
- Chia Seeds: How to Eat and Prepare Them
- Chia Seeds For Weight Loss
- Keto Diet And Chia Seeds
- Chia Seeds Vs. Hemp, Basil, Poppy & Flax Seeds
- Chia Seeds Side Effects
- Where Can I Buy Chia Seeds?
If you’re anything like us, you’re always looking for ways to become healthier. We often hear foods proclaimed as “superfoods,” with statements that these foods help to provide the body with a range of nutrients, while also fighting against disease and oxidative stress. Chia seeds are one of the latest trends – in actual fact, chia seeds have been around for a very long time, but recently, we have seen these seeds becoming quite popular.
Chia seeds become popular due to the high nutritional content found in these seeds. The seeds are extracted from the Salvia hispanica plant, which is a type of desert plant. The Salvia hispanica plant forms part of the mint plant family, and the seed is commonly referred to just as “chia.” There are also many particular trademarked names for these seeds.
While the exactly location not all is known about chia seeds, it has been established that the Salvia hispanica plant originated from the Central American region. In the ancient Aztec diet, chia seeds are believed to have played a crucial part and was a staple food. There is a closely related plant as well, that is known as the Salvia columbariae. The seeds of this plant are commonly referred to as golden chia seeds and were used in the Southwestern region of the United States by the Native Americans many years ago.
One of the primary benefits that chia seeds can offer would be the fact that they are exceptionally high in plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. This type of fatty acid is a crucial part of a healthy diet and contributes to improvements in cardiovascular health, as well as brain health.
These seeds also contain large amounts of fiber, another substance that should ideally be part of a healthy diet. In fact, approximately two tablespoons of chia seeds can offer a person as much as 10 grams of fiber.
In addition to the fiber and omega-3 fatty acids contained within chia seeds, there are many other important nutrients that the seeds can offer the human body. These include several minerals, such as calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and iron. There are certain vitamins in chia seeds as well, including vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and vitamin B3. Additionally, chia seeds have also been found to be high in protein.
Several research studies have been conducted on the potential benefits of chia seeds. While studies on human subjects are still somewhat limited, there is emerging evidence that the seeds can contribute to many health-related advantages in the average person, when added to a balanced diet.
Scientific studies found that chia seeds may help to lower blood pressure levels, which can be beneficial for individuals with hypertension. The seeds may also help to reduce triglyceride levels and lower total cholesterol levels in the body. This helps to improve blood circulation, supports cardiovascular health, and may lower the risk of heart attacks, stroke, as well as heart-related diseases.
Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts
Chia seeds have become a popular health trend today, mostly due to the high protein, fatty acids, and fiber content found in these seeds. While all three of these factors are true when it comes to looking at what chia seeds can offer the body, there are much more to consider in terms of the nutritional provisioning that chia seeds provide.
Let’s break down chia seeds and see what exactly this particular superfood is really made of – and what particular nutrients it can really offer you when you decide to eat a spoonful or two of the seeds on a daily basis.
First of all, chia seeds are relatively high in calories. This, however, does not mean that they will actually contribute to weight gain. An approximate two tablespoons worth of chia seeds contain around 138 calories. When it comes to 100 grams of chia seeds, then the calorie count goes up to 486 calories in total.
This is a breakdown of the content found in chia seeds:
- 6% of water content
- 19% of the protein content`
- 34% of fat content
- 46% carbohydrate content (about 83% of the carbohydrates are fiber content)
A 100-gram container of chia seeds would contain the following nutritional content:
- 16.5 grams of protein
- 42.1 grams of carbohydrates
- 34.4 grams of fiber
- 30.7 grams of fat (3.33 grams saturated fats, 2.31 grams monounsaturated fats, 23.67 grams polyunsaturated fats)
- 17.83 grams of omega-3 fatty acids
- 5.84 grams of omega-6 fatty acids
There is no sugar in chia seeds. Furthermore, there is a very small amount of trans fats as well – about 0.14 grams per 100 grams chia seeds. Chia seeds do not contain any gluten, making these the perfect snack choice or health product for people who have gluten sensitivities.
The majority of the fiber content that is found in chia seeds are considered insoluble fiber. This is a very useful type of fiber that has been found to reduce the risk of many diseases, including diabetes. Furthermore, the fiber content in chia seeds may assist with increasing the production of short-chain fatty acids in the stomach, which can assist in improving digestive health and function.
It should be noted that there is also a large variety of minerals and vitamins that are found in chia seeds. This is an important factor as the body relies on these nutrients for cells to function normally and for the body to be healthy in general.
The minerals that are found in chia seeds include:
There are also certain plant compounds that are found in chia seeds. These plant compounds are known as powerful antioxidants and can help to fight against free radical damage in the body. The particular plant compounds that have been found to exist in chia seeds include:
- Caffeic acid
- Chlorogenic acid
The compounds have been shown to help reduce blood pressure, as well as reduce inflammation in the body. Some of these antioxidants may also help to reduce a person’s risk of developing some cancers, and may also help to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases that affect the human body.
Benefits of Chia Seeds – Are They Good for You?
Chia seeds are popular for a good reason – these little seeds are packed with essential nutrients, ranging from minerals and vitamins to protein, fiber, and even essential fatty acids. These nutrients, along with the plant-based phytochemicals found in these seeds, contribute to quite a number of potential benefits associated with a person’s health. In this post, we take a look at some of the most important benefits that chia seeds have in store for a person who adds this superfood to their daily diet.
High In Antioxidants
One of the primary benefits of chia seeds would be the fact that the food is high in antioxidants. Most of the antioxidants come from plant-based compounds that are often referred to as phytochemicals. Antioxidants are molecules that can help to protect the body against damage by free radicals. Damage dealt with the body by free radicals has been linked to a large number of chronic diseases – including one of the biggest killers, being cancer.
High In Fiber
Fiber is another important compound found in chia seeds that contribute to the many health benefits associated with this particular superfood. Fiber should be an important part of your diet. The majority of carbohydrates found in chia seeds are made up of fiber content, which means loading up on chia seeds contribute to your daily fiber intake as well. This can help improve your digestive health and even be useful in cases where you struggle with issues like constipation. Furthermore, fiber can also help you feel full for a longer period, which can reduce your food intake – this is useful if you find yourself binging on unhealthy food during the day.
Protects The Cardiovascular System
Chia seeds are high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber. Combine these with the potent antioxidants that are found in chia seeds, and you get a number of benefits for your heart health as well. Triglyceride levels can be reduced with the frequent consumption of chia seeds, and HDL cholesterol levels can be elevated. This is already really good for the heart. Additionally, chia seeds can also help to reduce inflammation in the body – inflammation is known to contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases greatly.
Stabilizes Blood Sugar
Insulin resistance and diabetes are two conditions that are of great concern in the modern world. Chia seeds may help lower blood sugar, which can be useful for individuals who are struggling with elevations in their blood sugar levels. In addition to being useful in reducing blood sugar levels, it has also been found that chia seeds may assist with improving the body’s insulin sensitivity. This is definitely another important benefit that should be taken into account. Improvements in insulin sensitivity can assist in reducing the risk of insulin resistance developing.
Chronic inflammation is another important factor that is causing concern in the general population. This problem contributes to many diseases, including digestive problems, diabetes, heart disease, and more. The compounds that are naturally found in chia seeds may be useful in reducing chronic inflammation affecting the body, reducing the risk of all conditions associated with lower-grade inflammation.
Chia Seeds: How to Eat and Prepare Them
Chia seeds are considered a type of superfood that is full of essential vitamins, minerals, protein, and even important fatty acids that all contribute to the well-being of the body. While these seeds are exceptionally beneficial, it is important to consider how they should be consumed. There have been cases where people have experienced adverse events when eating a spoonful of chia seeds dry – this has caused some concern among the general population.
Luckily, there are many ways to eat chia seeds without this superfood becoming a choking hazard. This way, you can enjoy all of the benefits associated with these seeds, without the need to worry.
For those who wish to eat chia seeds without cooking with the seeds or adding them to any dishes, there is a way to eat them without having to worry about the seeds being a choking hazard. The issue here is the fact that chia seeds are expandable – when they come in contact with liquid, they start to expand. Thus, when swallowing these seeds dry, they can get stuck in your throat and start to swell up when you drink water. This can cause a blockage in your throat.
For this reason, it is generally advised that chia seeds be added to water before consumption. You can add a tablespoon of chia seeds to a glass of water and allow the seeds to soak for about 10 to 15 minutes. After soaking, the seeds will have expanded and absorbed the water content. You can now consume the chia seeds without having to worry about the seeds getting stuck in your throat and causing a blockage.
While eating chia seeds this way is great, there are many other great ways to use chia seeds. People are constantly looking for creative ways to add chia seeds to recipes.
A particularly popular recipe would be chia pudding – there are many ways to make chia pudding. Making chia pudding is also quick and easy. You simply decide on a liquid that you would like to mix the chia seeds with. You then add a cup of the liquid you prefer to about a quarter-cup of the chia seeds. Popular options for the liquid may include fruit juice. Almond milk is also a very popular option.
After the liquid and chia seeds have been mixed together, you add them to the refrigerator and wait for the seeds to swell up. As they swell up and absorb the liquid, the substance will go from watery to a jelly-like substance.
Getting your daily dose of chia seeds don’t have to be hard. You can even just add a tablespoon or two of chia seeds to your bowl of oatmeal. If you rather prefer a cup of yogurt – then simply add your chia seeds to the yogurt.
Many people sprinkle a few chia seeds over salads. You can also make delicious smoothies and then simply add a couple of chia seeds to the smoothie or perhaps to a fresh fruit juice you have prepared for yourself.
Chia Seeds For Weight Loss
With more than half the population now overweight or even worse, obese, we have an epidemic on our hands. Being overweight exposes a person to a large number of adverse health effects – this includes diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more. Many people are trying to lose weight, but this can be difficult. While there are a lot of foods that are known to cause weight gain, there are also certain foods that may assist in reducing weight.
Chia seeds have many benefits associated with its frequent consumption. When we look at the benefits that chia seeds may offer a person, it becomes obvious that these seeds may also be useful for people who would like to reduce their weight. While these seeds alone may not help a person shed all of their excess weight, adding them to a balanced and healthy diet can surely be useful.
The question now is – how will chia seeds contribute to weight loss?
There are different ways in which chia seeds can contribute to weight loss, but the primary action is related to a person’s appetite and satiety. Chia seeds are incredibly high in fiber and also contains high-quality protein.
When you eat about two tablespoons full worth of chia seeds, you consume 10 grams of fiber. This is approximately 40% of how much fiber you should have in your diet on a daily basis. Another factor that should be noted here is that chia seeds are high in insoluble fiber.
This is where the benefits come in. When you eat chia seeds, the fiber content in these seeds will absorb water in your intestines and swell up. This means they will move through your digestive tract slowly. The result is a feeling of fullness that lasts for a longer period of time, compared to having a snack that is low in fiber.
When you add some chia seeds to your meal, then the fiber will help you feel fuller after the meal. You will also be less likely to feel hungry in just a short period of time. Many people find that their biggest problem when it comes to losing weight is because they get hungry between their meals. When there are no healthy snacks available for them to eat, then they often get up and visit the vending machine or a local café that has everything but healthy food options to choose from. This leads to excessive calorie consumption and ultimately also weight gain.
The protein content in chia seeds can also contribute to a reduction in your appetite, helping you better control your urges to opt for those unhealthy snacks that will add more weight to your body.
On the other hand, it is also crucial that you take into account the fact that chia seeds do contain quite a lot of calories. Thus, you will need to be careful if you do decide to implement chia seeds in your diet as a way to help you control your weight and possibly lose excess fat.
Keto Diet And Chia Seeds
The Ketogenic diet has become a popular health trend in recent years, often promoted as an excellent way for people to lose weight. The diet also brings about many added benefits, including protective effects on heart health, as well as assistance in the management of metabolic conditions like diabetes and insulin resistance.
People who follow a Ketogenic diet need to reduce their intake of carbohydrates. Their intake of fats is increased, as fats take up the major part of calories consumed on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, the diet has a moderate amount of protein that should be consumed as well.
A lot of people who do wish to enter ketosis and take advantage of a Ketogenic diet would notice that the diet has many restrictions when it comes to selecting foods and preparing dishes.
When it comes to chia seeds, things can become quite confusing. Chia seeds are known to be relatively high in calories – and the seeds are also made up of large percentage carbohydrates. Since a Ketogenic diet is meant to be low in carbohydrates, people who are interested in this superfood might think that this is not the ideal option for them if they wish to remain in ketosis.
The good news is, chia seeds will likely not kick the body out of ketosis. This is because, while these seeds are known to have a high carbohydrate count, around 80% of all carbs that are found in chia seeds are in the form of insoluble fiber.
What this means is that even though it might be shocking to learn that chia seeds consist of almost 50% carbohydrate content, there is no need to be concerned as most of this is fiber. Fiber is a type of substance that is not absorbed by the body, but rather assists in the digestive processes and helps to move waste out of the body. Thus, about 80% of the carbs that are present in these seeds will not be used by the body – thus, this means there really is no need to be concerned about the body starting to produce glucose from the carb content that is found in chia seeds.
Chia seeds do not only contain carbohydrates. These seeds also contribute in good ways to the Ketogenic diet. About 34% of the calories that are found in chia seeds are made up of fats – and most of these fats are polyunsaturated fats. This is a healthy kind of fat that can contribute to various benefits, including higher HDL levels and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Furthermore, chia seeds contain protein as well. Thus, this is yet another way that these seeds can help you fill up on some essential macronutrients that should ideally be part of your Ketogenic diet.
While beneficial, do not forget the fact that chia seeds are relatively high in calories. An ounce of these seeds contains about 138 calories. You should calculate this into your daily caloric intake when you are following a diet.
Chia Seeds Vs. Hemp, Basil, Poppy & Flax Seeds
Healthy snacks are often advised for people who are trying to improve their well-being, reduce their weight, and simply live healthier lives. There are many types of healthy snacks that a person can easily pack into their bag – seeds make a great option for snacking during the day without packing in too many calories, while often also providing the body with a lot of different minerals, plant-based nutrients, and more.
While chia seeds have become quite a popular type of seed that people all over the world eat now, there are other types of seeds that are just as popular. Many people wonder whether they should opt for chia seeds or rather an alternative. Some popular options that are also considered healthy include hemp seeds, basil seeds, poppy seeds and, of course, flax seeds.
Comparing the nutritional data for each type of seed would be helpful in determining which would be the healthiest, as well as the best for certain cases.
Let’s take a look at a breakdown of the nutrient content each of these seeds offers the body.
- Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are popular for their high fiber content, and this option contains a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids. A 100-gram scoop of chia seeds would offer the body 17.83 grams of these fatty acids, along with 16.5 grams worth of protein, and 30.7 grams worth of fat. The majority of the fats in chia seeds are in the forms of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.
- Hemp Seeds: Hemp seeds are also known for their omega-3 fatty acid contents. While hemp seeds contain fiber as well, the fiber content is not as high as with chia seeds. With chia seeds, 80% of carbs are in the form of fiber. Less than 50% of the carb content in hemp seeds are fiber. Hemp seeds do contain more protein than chia seeds, however. A 100-gram scoop of hemp seeds would contain an approximate 31.5 grams of protein. The fat content in both seeds is quite similar, with a 100-gram scoop of hemp seeds offering around 48 grams worth of fat.
- Basil Seeds: Basil seeds have also become quite popular. These seeds have a high nutritional profile. The majority of the calories contained in basil seeds are made up of fat. The calories are broken down as follow – 62% fats, 27% protein, and 11% carbs. This makes basil seeds a low-carb, high-fat option, with moderate protein content. About half of the carbs are in the form of dietary fiber.
- Poppy Seeds: Poppy seeds, similar to chia seeds, are known to be an excellent source of quality fiber. A 100-gram scoop of poppy seeds would offer you around 19.5 grams worth of fiber. The same scoop would provide you with around 17.99 grams of protein, along with approximately 41.56 grams worth of fat.
- Flax Seeds: Flax seeds have been termed one of the healthiest seeds on the planet. They are high in omega-3 fatty acids and provide a good amount of fiber. A single tablespoon full of flax seeds offers you 1.3 grams of protein, along with 1.9 grams of fiber, and around three grams worth of fats.
Chia Seeds Side Effects
Chia seeds have become a health craze, sure. People all over the world have started to soak these little seeds in water and then gulp them up to enjoy their health benefits. They are added to smoothies, to puddings, and even in salads – the seeds are said to benefit the heart and the rest of the body.
While chia seeds are surely beneficial due to the specific combination of macronutrients, minerals, and plant-based chemicals that are found in them, it is also important to ask whether or not they are truly safe. Fortunately, for most people, consuming an appropriate amount of these seeds in the right way can be beneficial and poses no real harm. On the other hand, there are some risks and side-effects that some may be exposed to, which we look at here.
First of all, chia seeds can pose a choking hazard. These seeds are exceptionally good at absorbing water – when they absorb water, the seeds expand. When a person eats them dry, some of the seeds can get stuck in the person’s throat – sometimes even without their knowledge. Now, imagine if those seeds are exposed to water – they will start to swell up and may cause choking and difficulty breathing.
It should also be noted that chia seeds may cause an allergic reaction in some people. Even though this is quite a rare event, it is still something that people should be aware of. Symptoms of an allergic reaction experienced after eating chia seeds may include nausea and vomiting. A person may also experience diarrhea. Their tongue and their lips may itch as well. Other symptoms may also become present, depending on how many chia seeds the person consumed and how severe their allergic reaction to the food is.
The other issue at hand here comes into play when a person eats too many chia seeds. A single serving of these seeds contains about 40% of the fiber that the body requires on a daily basis. This equals about two tablespoons of chia seeds. It is rather easy to overindulge in these seeds since they can be easily added to many recipes.
While fiber is surely an important part of any person’s diet, too much of a good thing can cause trouble. When a person consumes too much fiber, it can cause certain digestive symptoms to develop. This may lead to the developing of gas and bloating. Some people may find that they become constipated, while others may rather start to experience diarrhea. Additionally, eating a lot of chia seeds may also cause abdominal pain.
This issue can be aggravated when a person fails to drink enough water, especially when they consume more than the recommended dosage for chia seeds.
Apart from these potential side effects, interactions with certain medications are also a possibility. It should be noted here that chia seeds may cause blood pressure to lower and may also help to reduce blood sugar levels. Sure, these are beneficial effects, but when combined with pharmaceutical drugs that also have these functions, blood sugar and blood pressure levels can become dangerously low.
Where Can I Buy Chia Seeds?
After learning about what chia seeds can do for you and your overall health, you might be enticed to try these seeds out for yourself. Perhaps you have checked out a few recipes that you want to try out, and you decided that you wish to make chia seeds a part of your diet – starting today. The next obvious step would be to go out and buy yourself a packet of chia seeds. The question is – where should you go to buy your chia seeds.
Top 3 Chia Seed Brands for 2019
- NUTRIENT POWER: This omega powerhouse is full of other useful nutrients that will help men and women live a better life. In every serving of our chia seeds, you'll find many nutrients, including omega-3, and fiber, making it a great bonus to any protein shake or juice. Because it is flavor neutral, you can add it to drinks and shakes of all flavors without them clashing.
- SIMPLY ORGANIC: Our Organic Chia Seeds are gluten-free, nut-free, low-carb, non-GMO, making them a great addition to your pantry, no matter your dietary restrictions. Whether you're vegan, vegetarian, eating Keto or Paleo, or following another strict food regiment, you can easily incorporate this nutritious seed into your diet.
- WITH OMEGA-3 & MORE: Chia seeds are loaded with 5350mg of omega-3, 10g of fiber, which is 7% of the DV recommended amount for fiber! In the ancient Mayan language, the word "chia" meant strength, so the name speaks for itself. Our Organic Chia Seeds can also be used as an egg replacement in any meal! Simply mix 1 tbs. of chia seeds with 3 tbs. of water and let sit for 5 minutes.
- NUTRIENT-DENSE SUPERFOOD - rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, iron and antioxidants
- NEUTRAL TASTE - chia seeds are virtually tasteless and can be added to your favorite foods. For added texture and protein, we recommend sprinkling chia seeds over oatmeal or adding them to smoothies, salads or yogurt for a satisfying and filling snack.
- HYDROPHILIC PROPERTIES - these mighty seeds hold up to 12x their weight offering powerful thickening abilities. Make a vegan egg substitute using 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to 3 tablespoons of water.
- NUTRIENT DENSE: Rich source of protein, antioxidants, essential omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and fiber. Can be consumed and digested whole.
- PREMIUM DIET COMPATIBILITY: An ideal addition to vegetarian, vegan, whole food, paleo, ketogenic, and gluten-free diets.
- VERSATILE INGREDIENT: Add a healthful gourmet flair to salads, snacks, soups, and baked goods, or soak them for a satisfying pudding or gel.
Chia seeds are exceptionally popular – and they are known around the entire world. This is a good thing since it also means that they are readily available almost everywhere. For the majority of people, getting their hands on a bag of these seeds would be as simple as just going out to town. This, however, does depend on where exactly you live – there might be some locations with limited access to health stores and other locations that make it easy to obtain products like chia seeds.
This is a good thing since it also means that they are readily available almost everywhere. For the majority of people, getting their hands on a bag of these seeds would be as simple as just going out to town. This, however, does depend on where exactly you live – there might be some locations with limited access to health stores and other locations that make it easy to obtain products like chia seeds.
Your first option will be to check if there are any health food stores in your local area. In some cases, you may also find that you have a few health stores that focus on herbal supplements specifically. Any of these two store types might be a good option to start your search at. The good thing about picking up some chia seeds from these stores would be the fact that the product would usually be from a trusted and quality brand – yes, there are many different brands that sell chia seeds and products that contain chia seeds.
In many locations, you may also find that chia seeds are available at local grocery stores. Simply pay a visit to the grocery store that you usually buy from and see if they have a section for “health foods.” The larger the heath foods department, the better the chance of running into a section where you will find a bag of chia seeds.
Another option would be to take your search online. There are many online vendors that sell chia seeds. Even if you do not live in a particular country where buying online has become a trend, such as the United States, you may still find a couple of online retailers that can offer you the ability to buy chia seeds on the internet.
When it comes to buying chia seeds, you should note that the quality of these seeds tends to vary from one brand to the next. Sure, they are all really the same product, but the way they are harvested and packed do tend to defer greatly.
If you do not conduct some research in order to ensure you buy from a trusted brand, then you might find the moment you open up your bag of chia seeds, you are presented with seeds covered in grit and other plant matter – yes, this has happened to quite a large number of people in the past. Always take a look at customer reviews and do some research on specific brands before making a final decision on which packet to buy.
Becky believes having good health, listening to your body and being happy is one of the most beautiful gifts. True health and cheerfulness naturally beget each other.