An ancient grain from Mexico, chia seeds were once used by Aztec people as food and as a part of religious ceremonies. Eating just a small quantity was believed to provide healthful sustenance — whether you were a hard-working citizen or a battle-fighting warrior — for an entire day. These tiny treasures were nearly forgotten after Aztec conquest by the Spanish, when chia cultivation became prohibited.
The seeds of the chia plant, a member of the mint family, contain about 16 percent protein, 31 percent fat and 44 percent carbohydrates. They also have antioxidant properties, and they’re a known source of omega-3 essential fatty acids and fiber. If this impressive nutritional profile isn’t enough to convince you to try them, here are three ways chia seeds can help your health.
3 health benefits of chia seeds
1. Blood sugar support. Because they’re rich in soluble fiber, chia seeds may play a part in supporting healthy blood sugar levels already within normal range. When combined with a liquid, chia seeds transform into a gel-like substance, and their soluble fiber content works to slow the body’s breakdown and digestion of carbohydrates. This supports a more gradual release of sugars in carbohydrate-containing foods, leading to less-sudden increases in blood sugar and insulin. Chia seeds are also high in insoluble fiber, which can help keep you regular and contribute to healthy cholesterol levels already within normal range.*
2. Heart health support. Rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids — containing a higher content than flax seeds — chia seeds are a smart addition to a heart-healthy diet.* According to the American Heart Association, omega-3s (which aren’t produced in the body and need to be obtained from food) help support the heart in healthy people. Although fish, which contains the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, is considered the best source, chia seeds are an ideal plant-based source of alpha linolenic acid, an omega-3 that’s converted to DHA and EPA in the body.
3. Healthy weight support. A tablespoon of fiber-rich chia seeds added to a healthy snack or meal can work wonders on curbing hunger and helping you to eat less–therefore allowing you to maintain a healthy weight. They’re mild flavored and easy to cook with, or just enjoy them as-is, sprinkled into smoothies or shakes, or stirred into yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, salads or soup.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Recipes with chia seeds
From sprinkling atop yogurt or oatmeal to jazzing up baked goods, there are so many tasty ways to enjoy chia seeds. Here are a few of our favorite chia-enhanced recipes:
Looking for more? Browse all chia seed recipes on the VitaVibes blog.