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Amazing Benefits Of Chia Seeds (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

Amazing Benefits Of Chia Seeds (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

“Chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength”. It is little wonder that these seeds were given this name by the Mayans, as there are many amazing benefits of chia seeds that do indeed give your body strength. Although the Mayans and the Aztecs regarded chia seeds as an important food source their unique properties as a food was only rediscovered in recent times.

What is this unique seed comprised of?

A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of Chia seeds contains: 11 grams of fiber; 4 grams of protein; 9 grams of fat (5 of which are Omega-3s); 18% of the RDA of calcium; 30% of the RDA of manganese; 30% of the RDA of magnesium and 27% of the RDA of phosphorus. They also contain potassium, zinc, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 and vitamin B3 (niacin).

As we can see chia seeds contain a high percentage of fiber, protein, and Omega 3 fatty acid. Chia seeds are 40% fiber, by weight and this makes them one of the best sources of fiber in the world. By weight, they are about 14% protein, which is high in comparison to other plants. As Chia seeds also contain amino acids the human body is able to use the protein they contain efficiently.

Chia seeds contain more Omega-3s than salmon, gram for gram, however, the fatty acid chia seeds contain is ALA and humans are not good at converting this into DHA (the most important Omega-3 fatty acid).

Let us take a closer look at the amazing benefits of chia seeds and see how incorporating them into our daily diet can be of great benefit.

The benefits of chia seeds

1. Digestive Health

The high fiber component of chia seeds helps promote bowel regularity. When they are eaten chia seeds create a gelatin-like substance in the stomach due to the soluble fiber found in the seed. This gel-forming action can act as a prebiotic, which fosters the growth of probiotics in the gut.

2. Heart Health

Studies have shown that a diet that includes chia seeds, soy protein, oats and nopal, can lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, increase HDL cholesterol and reduce inflammation. However, a separate study that just looked at just chia seeds did not find any improvements to cholesterol readings or inflammation. This does not necessarily mean that chia seeds do not have a positive effect on heart health it may simply suggest that chia seeds need to be one part of a diet that is geared towards heart health.

3. Cure Diabetes

Chia seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid and fiber, which indicated to researchers, from the University of Litoral in Argentina, that they may be useful in preventing metabolic disorders (like dyslipidemia – excessive fat in the blood – and insulin resistance). Such metabolic disorders are can be part of the cause of diabetes. The studies which were published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that chia seeds were proven to stop diabetes and even reverse it.

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4. Boost Your Energy

A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning came to the conclusion that eating chia seeds can help improve exercise performance. Using chia seeds as a performance enhancing food finds its precedent; legend has it, in Aztecs and Mayans cultures.In the study half of the athletes drank only Gatorade. The others drank half the amount of Gatorade and made up the remaining amount of Gatorade with a chia drink. The workout lasted for 90 minutes.

The result was that consuming half Gatorade and half chia drink was just as beneficial as drinking the full amount of the Gatorade drink. The study thus suggests that the chia seeds provide athletes with extra carbs they need for endurance events while decreasing their intake of sugar.

5. Stronger Bones

One ounce of chia seeds has 18% of the recommended daily amount of calcium. Calcium aids in the maintenance of bone strength and mass and is thus fundamental to bone health. Boron, another essential nutrient for bone health, is also found in Chia. Boron helps metabolize calcium, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium all of which are essential in the growth of healthy bones.

6. Lose Weight

The high protein and fiber content of chia seeds means that they are very useful in helping you lose weight. The fiber absorbs large amounts of water and expands in the stomach, which gives a feeling of fullness. It also slows the absorption of food. Protein often acts to reduce one’s appetite, thus the protein found in chia seeds may help you feel less hungry.

Studies that have looked at the effects of chia seeds on weight loss have not found any relationship between the intake of chia seeds and weight loss. Nevertheless, adding chia seeds to an overall healthy diet may prove to be a useful addition.

We have seen many of the amazing benefits of chia seeds. A lot can be said for this nutrient packed seed and it is clear that adding chia to your daily diet can prove to be of great benefit to your overall health. Let’s take a look at some great recipe ideas that will show you ways to incorporate chia seeds into your daily foods.

Chocolate Pistachio Chia Shake

chia recipe Chocolate Pistachio Chia Shake

    Ingredients

    1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, plus more to thin if desired
    2 tablespoons black chia seeds
    3 whole medjool dates, pitted
    1/3 cup roasted + shelled pistachios, plus more for topping
    3 frozen medium + very ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
    2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or use coconut milk yogurt for a vegan option
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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    Instructions

    In a small bowl mix together the milk and chia seeds. Let this sit for 10-15 minutes.

    Meanwhile add the pistachios and dates to the bowl of a food processor or high powered blender. Blend until the mixture becomes finely chopped and almost butter like, scraping down the side as you go. You want to get it as smooth as possible. I let the mixture blend for about 5 minutes.

    To the blender add the chia seeds + milk mixture, the frozen banana chunks, cocoa powder, greek yogurt and vanilla extract. Blend until thick, creamy, and smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. If the shake is too thick add more milk to your liking.

    Chia Oat Pitaya Super-Bowl

    chia recipe Chia Oat Pitaya Super-Bowl

      Ingredients to Blend

      1/3 cup oats
      3 tbs. chia seeds
      1 cup coconut water (filtered water will work, too)
      1 banana (fresh or frozen)
      1 dragonfruit smoothie pack
      1/2 cup frozen raspberries and blueberries
      1 kiwi
      1 tbs. maca powder (optional, energy boost)
      1 tbs. psyllium husk (optional, helps digestion)
      1 tsp. spirulina

      Toppings: Handful frozen blueberries and raspberries, handful goji berries, 1 tsp. flax seeds.

      Instructions

      Soak oats and chia seeds in water or coconut water overnight. In the morning, blend with all other ingredients. Top with frozen berries, goji berries and flax seeds. Soaking chia and oats adds nutritional value to the bowl, however you can still make it without pre-soaking!

      Banana cake with chia seeds

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      chia recipe banana cake with chia seeds

        Ingredients

        2 cups almond flour
        ¼ cup tapioca flour
        ¼ cup flaxseed meal
        1 teaspoon baking soda
        ½ teaspoon salt
        1 tablespoon chia seeds
        1 cup bananas, mashed
        2 eggs, room temperature
        2 teaspoons vanilla extract
        ½ cup coconut milk
        ⅓ cup honey
        4 tablespoons coconut oil

        Instructions

        In a large bowl mix the almond flour, tapioca flour, flaxseed meal, baking soda, salt and chia seeds. In a separate bowl, cream together coconut oil (not melted) and honey with a hand mixer. Add in eggs one at a time and continue mixing. Add in mashed banana, vanilla extract and coconut milk, mix until fully incorporated. .Pour wet ingredients in with dry ingredients and mix together with hand mixer to form batter.

        Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, covering two sides. Leave extra long so you have a handle to pull cake out. Pour the mixture evenly in the pan. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a wire rack when removing it from the oven and allow it to cool.

        Lemon Poppy and chia Seed Loaf

        chia recipe lemon poppy and chia seed loaf

          Ingredients

          Makes 1 loaf
          160 g flour
          12 g baking powder
          4 g baking soda
          2 g salt
          170 g coconut oil
          85 g sugar
          2 eggs
          1 yolk
          170 g yogurt
          30 g poppy seeds
          25 g chia seeds
          Zest of 2 lemons
          Vanilla to taste

          1 1/2 lemons juiced (about 70 ml)
          60 g sugar

          Instructions

          Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 175 degrees C. Butter and flour a loaf pan.

          Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cream the coconut oil and sugar together until fluffy. Slowly add the eggs one at a time. Add the lemon zest, poppy seeds, chia seeds, and vanilla. Beat in half the flour, then add the yogurt. Last, add the rest of the flour and mix until just combined. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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          While the loaf is baking make the lemon syrup. Heat the lemon juice and sugar together until it comes to a simmer. As soon as the loaf is taken out of the oven, spoon the syrup on top. Leave the loaf in the pan for several hours, or overnight.

          Sticky Chia Brown Rice with Fried Egg Recipe

          chia recipe Sticky Brown Rice with Egg and Chia

            Ingredients

            1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
            1 green onion, sliced on diagonal, green and white parts separated
            2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon black or white chia seeds
            2 cups cooked, chilled short-grain brown rice
            1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
            2 large eggs
            1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce

            Instructions

            In a small saucepan, stir together the broth, white parts of green onion, and 2 tablespoon of the chia seeds and let stand for about 20 minutes. (Makes about 2/3 cup green onion-chia gel.)

            Bring the green onion-chia gel to a boil over high heat. Add the rice and stir for about 30 seconds. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until rice is steaming hot and has a sticky consis­tency, about 4 minutes.

            Meanwhile, heat the oil in a nonstick (PFOA-free) skillet over medium heat. Add the eggs and cook until desired doneness, such as sunny-side-up, about 4 minutes.

            Divide the sticky rice mixture onto plates or into bowls and top each with an egg. Sprinkle with the tamari, the remain­ing 1/2 teaspoon of chia seeds, and the green parts of green onions. Serve immediately.

            Featured photo credit: ecochiclife.net via ecochiclife.net

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            Rebecca Beris

            Rebecca is a wellness and lifestyle writer at Lifehack.

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            Last Updated on November 11, 2019

            How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

            How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

            Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

            To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

            Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

            1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

            Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

            Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

            To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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            2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

            Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

            If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

            Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

            3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

            Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

            Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

            4. Feed Your Brain

            Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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            This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

            Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

            Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

            5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

            According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

            Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

            Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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            6. Write it Down

            If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

            It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

            You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

            7. Listen to Music

            Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

            8. Visual Concepts

            In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

            Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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            Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

            9. Teach Someone Else

            Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

            Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

            10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

            Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

            So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

            Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

            More About Boosting Memory

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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