Surprising Health Benefits of Chia Seeds You May Not Know

Jhey may be tiny, but what chia seeds lack in size, they more … than compensate in nutritional value. Among the long list of benefits of chia seeds, you will find that they are the richest plant source of omega-3. “Omega-3 fatty acids are essential – we need to get them from our diet, and they’re a little harder to get than the other essential fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, which are ubiquitous in the food supply” , says a plant-based dietitian Julieanna HeverRD “So we have to aim to get more omega-3s and less omega-6s for an optimal ratio.”

Hever adds that omega-3s are good for your head and heart because they support healthy brain and cardiovascular function. “The omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds come in the form of alpha-linoleic acid. [ALA], which has been associated with anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic and anti-arrhythmic properties, and therefore really good for your heart and total circulatory system,” she says. This type of fatty acid is also found in nuts, flaxseeds, and leafy greens, and research shows a link between ALA consumption and longevity.

FYI, seafood, like salmon, as well as seaweed (aka green vegetables), are the other main sources of omega-3s, but ideally you should be eating them in addition to an omega source. -3 ALA because they contain long chain fatty acids. acids called DHA and EPA, which your body also needs for optimal functioning.

And while that would be enough to make these nutrient-rich nuggets a star on most people’s pantry shelves, omega-3s are just the beginning of chia seeds benefits.

Benefits of Chia Seed Besides Omega-3s

A serving of chia seeds, about two tablespoons, contains about 140 calories, 4 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, 7 grams of unsaturated fat, 18% of the recommended daily allowance for calcium and trace minerals, especially zinc and copper. , according to Harvard University School of Public Health.

In addition to being a good source of ALA fatty acids, chia seeds provide protein, amino acids and many anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, according to Hever. “Especially in a plant-based diet, where you get your protein from seeds, nuts, and legumes, chia seeds are a really great source of essential amino acids,” she says. “We need it for all sorts of different reasons throughout the body.” Production of bioregulators like hormones and neurotransmitters are just one of many important functions for which amino acids are responsible.

And then in terms of phytonutrients, Hever says chia seeds are high in flavonoids, tocopherolscarotenoids and phenolic compounds. “That’s probably what’s responsible for their strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,” she says.

To finish, chia seeds contain many minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium which promote bone health, as well as zinc. They also contain soluble fiber, which we’ve previously reported supports gut health, low cholesterol, and low blood sugar.

5 Easy Chia Seed Recipes That Aren’t All Pudding

1. Lemon and chia seed vinaigrette

lemon and chia seed vinaigrette
Photo: Two peas and their pod

Hever says incorporating chia seeds as thickening agents in salad dressings and sauces is one of his favorite ways to incorporate them into his diet. “They are also very good stabilizers,” she says. “They have all these different fibers and gums that make this water absorption possible.” (Hence how often they’re used to make thick, creamy chia seed pudding.) This homemade dressing is a great topping for salads and cereal bowls. It’s vegan and gluten-free, and the only ingredients required are olive oil, lemon juice, agave, chia seeds, and vinegar, along with salt and pepper.

Get the recipe: Lemon and chia seed vinaigrette

2. Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookie Dough Protein Bites

Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookie Dough Protein Bites
Photo: My new perspective

Since they’re a good source of soluble fiber, it makes sense to snack on chia seeds between meals, as they can help balance your blood sugar levels and boost your digestion. Here, chia seeds are paired with dates, protein powder, cocoa nibs (among other ingredients) to create mini lifts that will help you get through that long time between lunch and dinner.

Get the recipe: Chocolate Chip Cashew Cookie Dough Protein Bites

3. Chia crackers

Photo: Getty Images/ Olga Lepeshkina

Swapping store-bought crackers for this homemade recipe will pack you in way more nutrients than packaged snacks typically pack. Make some for your next cheese plate or to accompany one of those anti-inflammatory dips and spreads that only take two minutes to prepare.

Get the recipe: Chia Crackers

4. Strawberry Chia Pudding

Photo: Stocksy/Nadine Greeff

Okay, no chia seed recipe list would be complete without at least a pudding. But rest assured that this is not your average option. The addition of Trader Joe’s dehydrated strawberries puts this chia pudding recipe in a class of its own. It is just as delicious for breakfast as it is for dessert.

Get the recipe: Strawberry Chia Pudding

5. Raspberry Chia Jam

Photo: Karla’s Nordic Kitchen

Another way to put the thickening properties of chia seeds to good use is to make a sweet spread that allows you to incorporate the chia seeds in a way that doesn’t make them the main event. Spread this jam on toast or mix it into your oatmeal for a nutritionally dense dose of healthy fats and whole fruits.

Get the recipe: Raspberry Chia Jam

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