If all you know about chia seeds is that they’re used to grow a green hair-like coat on terracotta Chia Pets, it may be time to take another look. In addition to growing decorative green fur, chia seeds are packed with nutrients and super healthy to eat. Here are some of the ways that eating chia seeds can improve your health:
- Chia seeds are a high plant-based source of protein. They’re about 14% protein by weight, which is much higher than most plants. In addition to being vegan-friendly, chia seeds also contain essential amino acids, which help your body make use of the protein they contain.
- Need more fiber? Chia seeds are one of the most fiber-rich foods on the planet. The high soluble fiber content in chia seeds absorbs many times its weight in water, which expands in your stomach and helps increase feelings of fullness and slow down the absorption of your food. Fiber is also helpful in nurturing the friendly bacteria in your gut, which is an important component in good health.
- Chia seeds may help regulate your blood sugar. Elevated fasting blood sugar is a common symptom for people with untreated Type 2 diabetes. A number of animal studies and some human studies have found that eating chia seeds may improve insulin sensitivity and help stabilize after-meal blood sugar levels. Researchers found that eating bread containing chia seeds helps lower participants’ rise in blood sugar compared to participants who didn’t eat chia seed bread. These findings indicate that chia seeds may help control temporary spikes in blood sugar.
- These tiny seeds contain many nutrients needed for healthy bones. Chia seeds contain high levels of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and protein. In fact, just an ounce of chia seeds contains 18% of your RDI (Recommended Dietary Intake) for calcium, which is higher than that of many dairy products. It’s an excellent calcium source for vegans.
- Chia seeds are packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect your body from damage by free radicals, which are unstable atoms that damage your cells, cause illness, and accelerate aging. In addition, the high antioxidant content protects the seeds themselves from becoming rancid.
And here’s one more benefit—chia seeds are easy to add to your diet. They don’t have much taste, so you can add them to most foods. They don’t need to be ground up or cooked. They can be eaten raw, soaked in juice, added to your oatmeal, smoothies, baked goods, or make chia pudding. They’re also good sprinkled on top of salads, vegetables, cereal, or yogurt. With all the health benefits that chia seeds have to offer, isn’t it time you gave them a try?
Dr. Jeda Boughton is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Registered Acupuncturist in Vancouver. She is also a Registered Herbologist and the founder of BodaHealth.