What are Chia Seeds?
The Aztecs knew something centuries ago that the modern world is rediscovering.
Well first of all, yes, it is the same thing that was inside the Chia Pet that came out in the 70s and 80s, but that should not discourage you from learning about and eating this super food.
Chia Seeds Nutrition
Chia seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants and have the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acid of any fruit or vegetable.
Omega 3s help the body reduce inflammation which can lead to many of the common ailments affecting so many people, from heart disease to diabetes.
They can be added to virtually anything to add nutritional value. Some people use them in eggs or sprinkle them on yogurt or smoothie.
Another popular option is to simply add them to a bowl of water and let it soak for 15 minutes. They will absorb the water and form a jelly like substance that can be eaten as a pudding snack. Best of all, it is totally healthy.
The nutritional value of chia seeds is similar to flax seeds in omega-3 content, however they differ in one important way. Flax seeds must be ground to get to the beneficial omega-3s, however chia seeds can be consumed as they are.
And a little goes a long ways. Most experts recommend you only consume about an ounce a day. Any more than that amount can upset your stomach because of they contain a lot of fiber.
The rest of this article describes additional chia seed benefits and why you should get them in your diet.
Chia Seeds Weight Loss
One of the best chia seeds health benefits is that it the dieter’s best friend. The same property Credit: Berkeley, USA via Wikimedia Commonsthat makes the Chia Pet grow causes it to expand when exposed to water. One of the most difficult things to deal with when you are trying to lose weight is the growling and discomfort in your stomach. Your body has trouble adjusting to a lower amount of calories so it is saying to you, feed me!
Eating chia can help you lose weight because eating an ounce or so spread throughout the day can keep those feelings of hunger at bay.
If a seed comes in contact with water, it doubles in size and weight and turns into a gel substance. So when you eat them, they do the same thing in your stomach allowing you to feel fuller longer.
Balance Insulin Spikes and Control Blood Sugar
Weight gain is typically caused by eating foods that cause your blood sugar to spike. This causes the body to release insulin to remove the sugar from the blood. However, the body panic and typically releases too much insulin causing it to be stored as fat.
Consuming chia seeds help you to keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the day to reduce these insulin spikes by slowing down how your body converts starches into sugar.
If you sprinkle them on your food during a meal, it will help you slow down the conversion of food allowing you to keep a steady supply of energy all day long.
Look and Feel Younger
Chia seeds contain antioxidants which fight free-radicals that damage your skin and lead to premature aging and inflammation.
They contain omega-3 oils which have been used in a lot of over-the-counter cosmetics and medicines. There is some research that suggests their anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce the occurrence of wrinkles and skin irritation.
However, experts caution not to go overboard with excitement. There is no evidence to support any benefits from directly applying them to your skin. All of the skin benefits appear to come internally by eliminating free-radicals with a chia seed diet.
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Help Prevent Diverticulitis and Other Digestive Disorders
Chia seeds provide a lot of fiber so that you can maintain a smooth digestive process. Eating too many processed foods in our modern diets have contributed to diseases like IBS and Diverticulitus.
Chia seeds are protected by insoluble fiber which is not broken down into calories so they stay within your digestive system to help food move smoothly through your intestines while keeping the colon hydrated and prevent constipation symptoms. All of that helps prevents the pockets that form sometimes in the intestines that become clogged and infected leading to the painful diseases mentioned above. If you are looking for a diverticulitis natural treatment, try adding chia seeds in your diet.
How to Use Chia Seeds
How to Eat Chia Seeds
I typically add them as part of a chia seed drink in my morning smoothie, but there are so many options, you can find a new way every single day.
Some of the best things to add chia to are yogurt, oatmeal, salads or anything that that has some moisture to it that will allow the seeds to stick to them. You can even add them to cereal, just make sure you eat it with almond milk or something similar or they will simply fall to the bottom of the bowl.
As little as a teaspoon can give you a day’s worth of benefits.
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Chia Seed Side Effects
While most people have no issues with consuming chia seeds, there are some side effects that you should be aware of. However, with all of the side effects listed below, they typically only occur if you consume to many seeds in one day. Generally speaking, an ounce of chia seeds a day will not cause any problems for most people. Having said that, the side effects are relatively minor as you will see.
- Chia seeds cause gas in some people if consumed in more quantities than recommended. They are high in fiber so they can upset your stomach as well. So if you are planning on being in some public situations, you may want to wait until later in the day before you get your daily dose.
- If you know you are allergic to mustard seeds, chia seeds can cause the same allergic reaction.
- If you take blood thinners and certain other medications, some studies have some that they can cause a reaction because of their high omega-3 content. Omega-3s have been shown to thin the blood even further.
- If you are planning on having any surgical procedure, you might want to eliminate any chia seeds for a while because of their blood thinning properties.
Again, most of these side effects occur when they are consumed in large quantities, but eaten in moderation daily, you can enjoy the benefits of chia seeds.