Native to Mexico and Guatemala, chia seeds were a staple food for the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. Today, they’re considered a superfood for their wide-ranging health benefits. But how can you reap those health benefits? While your easiest bet is to mix chia seeds in water (one tablespoon per glass should do), these little seeds are actually really versatile. Here’s everything you need to know about chia seeds, including how to enjoy them in your everyday life.
Nutritional Information for Chia Seeds
Per one ounce serving, chia seeds have:
Fiber: 11 grams
Protein: 4 grams
Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are omega-3s)
Calcium: 18% of the RDI
4 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
1. They’re Full of Nutrients (But Not Calories)
Chia seeds are considered a super food for good reason. First, let’s talk about fiber. Per a chart from a 2005 study from the University of Minnesota, fiber leads to greater satiety, less insulin secretion and more short-chain fatty acids. Basically, all of these things mean less body weight. Fiber has also been shown to reduce breast-cancer risk by reducing estrogen levels in the blood and to promote healthy aging. Pretty crucial stuff. In terms of calcium, registered dietitian Samantha Cassetty tell us chia seeds are a great source of calcium for those who don’t eat or drink dairy, since a couple of tablespoons provides almost 14 percent of a woman’s daily target. All of this for just 138 calories per one-ounce serving.
2. They’re a Caffeine-Free Source of Energy
Being dehydrated can tire you out. Add a teaspoon of chia seeds into your water bottle, wait five minutes for the seeds to soak up the water, then sip it all down. The seeds will give you stable energy because they have a balanced ratio of protein, fats and fiber, which means they won’t cause peaks and valleys in blood sugar.
3. They’re High in Antioxidants
According to a study in The Annals of General Psychiatry, anxiety may have a link to low antioxidant levels, since antioxidants reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which damage brain functioning. (Menopausal women are especially at risk for oxidative stress due to low estrogen.) In addition to reducing anxiety, antioxidants also benefit the skin, support immune system functioning and may prevent certain medical conditions.
4. They Might Reduce Your Risk for Heart Disease
Given that chia seeds are high in fiber, protein and omega-3s, they may reduce your risk of heart disease. Though more human studies are needed, studies of rats have shown that chia seeds can lower certain risk factors for heart disease.
5 Chia Seed Recipes to Try
Everyone’s putting chia seeds in water because it’s so dang easy, but if you’re looking for something a bit more substantial—and delicious—try one of these super-tasty recipes.
1. Matcha Chia Seed Pudding
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