Much like nuts (another super-smart snack food!), seeds manage to squeeze several essential nutrients into a very tiny package. They’re an excellent natural source of antioxidants, protein, dietary fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Factor in their delicious flavor, low calorie count and grab-and-go convenience, and it’s no wonder these nutritional powerhouses are so rapidly gaining in popularity!
Fun fact: 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 (wow!).
The seeds of the chia plant, a member of the mint family, contain about 16% protein, 31% fat and 44% carbohydrates. Packed with antioxidants, calcium and fiber and omega-3 essential fatty acids, chia seeds are a nutritious addition to puddings, smoothies, baked goods and salads. Or you can use them as a thickener for soups and gravies.
Here are a few chia seed benefits to know:
• 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.†
• Heart health support: Rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, 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. 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.
• 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.
On the blog, we have tons of recipes that call for chia seeds (among other nutritious ingredients!). Check out our top five favorites of the moment for new ways to enjoy this small-but-mighty superfood ingredient:
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†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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