Blog Nutrition Chia Seeds Benefits: The Benefits of Consuming These Tiny Oval-Shaped White and Black Seeds

Chia Seeds Benefits: The Benefits of Consuming These Tiny Oval-Shaped White and Black Seeds

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Chia seeds are one of the healthiest and nutritious seeds in the food industry. They have gained popularity for their benefits, making most people fall in love with these seeds. However, some of the running theories about chia seeds benefits and side effects have been brought into question. For example, the effectiveness of taking chia seeds for weight loss. 

Do chia seeds promote weight loss? This is one of the running theories on the link between these seeds and weight loss that we will analyze. Additionally, we will also discuss chia seeds’ benefits and side effects, their nutrition, and how you can add them to your diet. Take a look! 

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What Are Chia Seeds?

They are tiny oval-shaped seeds that have exploded in popularity in the health industry over the last couple of years. Today, you will find them in various cereals, bread, drinks, bars, and pudding. So what are they, and why is there a craze for them?

Chia is a tiny white or black seed obtained from a herbaceous plant known as Salvia hispanica L. (5). It dates back to the Mesoamerican culture, where it was used beside beans, corn, and amaranth (5). It was also used to prepare food and medicine (5).

Today, people have picked up on its medicinal values and are incorporating it into their diet plans. But, you might have seen or heard everyone praising these seeds and are wondering if these tiny seeds are worth the attention they are getting. Well, what better way to answer this than to explore chia seeds’ benefits and side effects.

Benefits Of Chia Seeds

Do not be fooled by their size. These tiny seeds are full of nutrients and are literally nutritional powerhouses. Due to these nutrients, chia seeds have numerous health benefits. Let us break it down to these seeds’ nutritional benefits to understand better what they bring to the table.

Nutritional Benefits Of Chia Seeds

Regardless of your chia seeds servings, you are bound to obtain numerous nutrients from these seeds. According to the National Nutrient Database of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 100 g serving of chia seeds has the following nutrients (4):

  • Calories- 534
  • Protein- 18.3 g
  • Total fat- 42.2 g
  • Carbs- 28.9 g

The calories in chia seeds plus the content of other nutrients will vary depending on your servings. Of course, the larger the serving, the more the content. Besides these nutrients, chia seeds are also full of the following:

Nutritional Benefits Of Chia Seeds

Fiber

We all need fiber in our bodies for various reasons. One of the most significant reasons why we need fiber is to ease bowel movements and reduce constipation. Experts reveal that these oval-shaped seeds have dietary fiber ranging from 34 to 40 g per 100 g (5).

Studies show that taking a high amount of fiber also reduces your risk for coronary heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes (5). In addition, fiber also helps suppress hunger, which is beneficial for dieters as it limits the number of calories they consume (5).

Additionally, fiber lowers blood pressure and LDL “bad” cholesterol levels in the body (5). Recent studies show that the seeds boost cardiovascular functioning and help regulate the immune system and inflammation (5).

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Most people believe that you can only get your omega-3 fatty acids from fish. However, food experts acknowledge that another excellent source of this nutrient is chia seeds. According to WebMD, an ounce of these seeds provides 5 g of omega-3 fatty acids (11). 

These nutrients are fundamental for several roles, including (10):

  • Easing inflammation
  • Reducing heart attack and stroke risk
  • Combating obesity
  • Promoting brain health
  • Raising HDL” good” cholesterol levels
  • Contributing to better infant health

Chia Seeds Benefits

Antioxidants

Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants, which are also known as the free-radical scavengers. They protect the cells against damage from free radicals that may result in oxidative stress and increase cancer risk (7). Antioxidants also act as enzyme inhibitors, metal-chelating agents, and electron and hydrogen donors (7).

Calcium

These seeds also provide you with a decent amount of calcium. According to WebMD, you obtain at least 17% of your daily calcium needs after consuming one ounce of chia seeds (11). We all know that calcium is vital for the development of strong and healthy bones. 

More so, Medical News Today also reveals that calcium is essential for the following roles (1):

  • Regulation of muscle contraction
  • Maintaining the heart muscle action
  • Lowering blood pressure in young adults and pregnant women
  • Improving cholesterol levels
  • Reducing the risk of colorectal adenomas (which is non-cancerous tumor)
  • Being a cofactor for many enzymes

Read More: Delicious Chia Seeds Recipe – Weight Loss Meals To Try Today

Chia Seeds Benefits

Iron

We all need iron in our bodies in distinct amounts. The amount of iron you require depends on your age and sex. Adult males aged 19 and above require 8 mg, while females aged 19 to 50 require 18 mg of iron daily (6).

An ounce of chia seeds provides you with 12% of your daily iron needs (11). This mineral is vital in our bodies for the proper functioning of hemoglobin, a protein needed for oxygen transportation in the blood (6). 

Additionally, iron is also crucial for the following processes (6):

  • Maintaining a healthy pregnancy
  • Improving mental and physical performance
  • Reducing anemia risk

Phenolic Compounds

Dry chia seeds contain 8.8% of phenolic compounds, including caffeic acid, myricetin, kaempferol, quercetin, cinnamic, chlorogenic, and rosmarinic acid (5). All these compounds may be helpful for your body in one way or the other.

For example, caffeic acid eases inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory properties, while chlorogenic acid lowers blood pressure and reduces cardiovascular disease risk (1). Similarly, kaempferol contains pharmacological properties like anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antitumor, neuroprotective, cardioprotective, antimicrobial, and antidiabetic (8).

These properties have been linked with decreased risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes (5). They have also been found to have protective effects on your heart and liver (5).

Chia Seeds Benefits

Minerals

Chia seeds also contain minerals like potassium, magnesium, and vitamins B, A, K, D, E, B1, B2, and niacin (5). The contents of potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium are more significant in these seeds than in other cereals (5). 

They have the following benefits (5):

  • Magnesium. This mineral regulates muscle and nerve functioning, making bone, DNA, and protein, and stabilizing blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
  • Phosphorus. Phosphorus has several vital roles in the body. Its primary function is involved in the formation of bones and teeth. It is also involved in the body’s utilization of fats and carbohydrates and protein formation, which is necessary for the growth, repair, and maintenance of cells and tissues.
  • Potassium. Potassium helps regulate muscle contractions, nerve functioning, and fluid balance. It also offsets the adverse effects of sodium on your blood pressure, helps keep your heartbeat regular, and moves nutrients into your cells.

All these add to the health advantages of consuming chia seeds. However, remember that there is a recommended dietary allowance for each of these nutrients. So, talk to your doctor and nutritionist to validate that you are taking enough of these nutrients.

Fast Glimpse Of Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts

Based on what we have discussed above, we can summarize the nutrition facts of chia seeds in several statements, which include:

  • Chia seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, calcium, and iron.
  • They also contain magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, selenium, folate, and choline.
  • An ounce has 131 calories.
  • These seeds are nutritional powerhouses that might lead to a reduced risk of several adverse health conditions.

Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts

Do Chia Seeds Promote Weight Loss?

A lot has been said about chia seeds and their benefits on weight loss. So, you will find many assertions on chia seeds’ benefits for weight loss on the internet. The theory is that the high fiber content in these seeds helps suppress hunger and increase satiety, thereby reducing overeating (5).

Similarly, the argument is that the protein content in these seeds keeps you fuller for longer, preventing overeating (5). In light of this, most people have added chia seeds to their weight loss diet plans. However, there are very few human studies that support this running theory. Let us evaluate two (2) studies with differing views on chia seeds’ influence on weight loss. Take a look:

Study 1 (Chia Seeds Promote Weight Loss)

A 2014 study was conducted among randomly picked obese and overweight adults to determine the effect of chia seeds on body composition, lipid profile, and blood glucose. Dietary fiber in these seeds has been linked to weight loss and enhancing lipid profiles and blood glucose levels (2).

So, the study wanted to evaluate to what effect fiber in chia affects these three (3) components. After chia consumption for 12 weeks, the researchers discovered that the participants had reported reducing their body weight and waist circumference (2).

Although it was more significant than in the control group, it was not substantial. So, the study inferences acknowledged that chia promotes significant but discrete reduction in weight and waist circumference (9). Nevertheless, it enhances lipid profiles (2).

Study 2 (Chia Seeds Do Not Promote Weight Loss)

A 2009 study was conducted to assess the effectiveness of chia seeds on weight loss. The hypothesis was based on the running theory that these seeds’ high fiber and alpha-linolenic (ALA) contents promote a small but significant decrease in body weight (3).

So, the researchers gave their participants, who were overweight and obese adults between 20 and 70 years, chia seeds for 12 weeks (3). They took body mass and composition measures, blood pressure, inflammation, oxidative stress, and lipoproteins (3).

The study findings revealed that the participants had not reported any change in body mass or composition or other disease risk factor measures (3). So, the researchers concluded that chia seed consumption does not affect weight loss.

Chia Seeds Benefits

The Inference

Based on this insight, you may be confused about where these seeds lie on the weight loss map. As mentioned earlier, there lacks concrete evidence to support the theory that chia seeds promote weight loss.

However, it does not mean ruling them out yet from your weight loss diet plan. Although chia seeds do not promote weight loss on their own, you can add them to several foods and shed some pounds. For example, you have them with other low-calorie foods like almond milk and aid in weight loss.

They are excellent additions to a healthy balanced weight loss diet plan. Be sure to talk to your doctor and nutritionist if you are trying to lose weight and consider adding chia seeds to your diet.

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See also  30-Day Health Challenges To Consider For Total Transformation

How To Add Chia Seeds To Your Diet?

Before people knew of the extensive health benefits of chia seeds, little did they know how to consume these seeds. Most people only knew of one method: adding a spoonful of these seeds to a glass of water and drinking it.

It is an excellent way of boosting digestion. However, as more and more people embraced them, new recipes emerged. These seeds are straightforward to incorporate into your diet because you do not have to grind or cook them. 

Here are some easy ways you can chow down these nutritional powerhouses:

Chia Seeds Benefits

Smoothies

You can have these seeds any time of your day by adding them to your smoothie (11). However, remember that there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of smoothies to prepare. It all comes down to your goals and preferences.

Again, remember that you do not have to grind the chia seeds to extract their nutrients. You can simply add them in their raw form and reap their benefits. Some chia seeds smoothies to consider are a blueberry chia seed smoothie, green pear apple, chia seed smoothie, or apple oats.

These nutritional powerhouses blend perfectly with other salad dressing ingredients. So, do not be afraid to use it alongside lemon juice, olive oil, honey, or vinegar.

Baked Goods

You can also use ground chia to make baked goods like cakes, for example, a lemon chia seed cake. Alternatively, you can grind whole chia seeds in a grinder if you do not have them in ground form.

Toppings

You can also sprinkle a spoonful of these seeds on your yogurt, rice dishes, or sauces. They thicken sauces and are therefore used as thickening agents.

Chia Seeds Benefits And Side Effects

Puddings

You can also reap the benefits of these seeds by adding them to your pudding. It is advisable not to have a dry chia seed pudding but instead add some liquid to it. Despite their long list of benefits, they may lead to a constricted esophagus, which is why you need to add some liquid to the pudding.

Luckily, they absorb liquids quickly, and you do not have to wait long. Some ideal ingredients to consider for your chia pudding are strawberries, almond milk, honey, maple syrup, coconut milk, and nut butter.

Side Effects Of Chia Seeds

Unfortunately, some people may experience several side effects after consuming chia seeds. It could be because of taking large quantities or the seeds in general. 

The side effects include:

Allergies

Chia seeds belong to the mint family together with the mustard, mint, and sesame seeds. Consuming them may lead to cross-sensitization among individuals with mustard or sesame allergies (9). Therefore, it would be best to talk to your doctor and get assessed for such allergies before adding these nutritional powerhouses to your diet plan.

Read More: Pecans Vs. Walnuts: Facts, Calories, Health Benefits And Side Effects

Diabetes

Yes, you heard it right. Although earlier we mentioned that the seeds could reduce type 2 diabetes risk, they can also promote it. The running theory is that the high fiber content slows down sugar absorption in the gut (9).

So, your blood sugar levels may alarmingly spike or decrease at any moment. This is risky for any person with diabetes, and it may require an insulin dosage adjustment if the levels are abnormally low (9).

Side Effects Of Chia Seeds

Digestive Problems

Chia seeds have a tough exterior that the body finds difficult to break down, release, and digest (9). Although the same applies to most seeds, chia seeds appear to be tougher. It is for this reason that you should avoid eating dry chia seeds.

Instead, you are advised to soak them or have them in water to ease digestion (9). Alternatively, you can consume them in ground form and still reap the full nutritional benefits of these seeds.

The Bottom Line

Chia seeds are tiny black or white seeds loaded with nutrients. They are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, calcium, and iron. Chia seeds’ benefits range from reduced risk of diseases, inflammation, constipation to improved digestion. 

You can add these seeds to your diet in your salads, pudding, smoothies, or toppings. However, it would be best to talk to your doctor and nutritionist before making these dietary changes.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Benefits and sources of calcium (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
  2. Chia induces clinically discrete weight loss and improves lipid profile only in altered previous values (2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  3. Chia seed does not promote weight loss or alter disease risk factors in overweight adults (2009, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  4. Chia seeds (2020, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
  5. Chia Seeds (Salvia Hispanica L.): An Overview—Phytochemical Profile, Isolation Methods, and Application (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  6. Everything you need to know about iron (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
  7. How can antioxidants benefit our health? (2018, medicalnewstoday.com)
  8. Kaempferol: A Key Emphasis to Its Anticancer Potential (2019, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  9. Side effects of chia seeds: What are they? (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
  10. What to know about omega-3 fatty acids (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
  11. Why Are Chia Seeds Good for Me? (2021, webmd.com)
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