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10 Amazing Benefits Of Chia Seeds and How To Eat Them

10 Amazing Benefits Of Chia Seeds and How To Eat Them

Chia seeds are a tiny superfood that pack a big punch. These small, mildly-flavored seeds are packed with antioxidants, support a healthy digestive system, and lower cholesterol. They can even help you shed pounds!

Chia seeds have been part of pop culture since the 1980s

My first interaction with chia seeds was actually through Chia Pets, terra cotta figurines that sprouted the seeds to give the effect of hair or fur. The seeds come from the Salvia hispanica plant, a member of the mint family.[1] The plant is native to Central America, and the Aztecs and Mayans regularly consumed the seeds as an energy booster.[2]

Today, the humble chia seed has taken on a life of its own. Though people still know the seeds in the context of that Chia Pet they bought back in 1982, we now think of them primarily as a health food.

Chia seeds have maximum nutritional effect in minimalist packaging

Unlike some of the more ostentatious superfoods on the market –the avocados, acai, and cacao– chia seeds outward appearance and flavor is understated. The small grayish seeds have a light nutty flavor that is virtually undetectable.

Just because chia seeds don’t have a bold flavor or flashy outward appearance, doesn’t mean that their nutrition profile is any less amazing. According to the USDA, chia seeds are good sources of protein and fiber, and they are rich in calcium, Vitamin A, Iron, and Omega-3 fatty acids.[3]

Each tablespoon of chia seeds is roughly 70 calories, but because these are low in carbohydrates, most of the energy that comes from a serving of chia seeds is quickly metabolized.[4]

10 Reasons to add chia seeds to your diet

1. Chia seeds improve digestive function

The high fiber content of these tiny seeds means that they’ll help you stay regular and reduce bowel irritation. Gut flora love high-fiber foods, which means that chia seeds support the good bacteria in your digestive tract.[5]

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2. Get enough essential minerals

Getting enough calcium into your system is a challenge–especially for those of us who don’t consume dairy. Chia seeds contain a high percentage of your daily recommended intake of calcium. They’re also loaded with magnesium, phosphorous, and manganese.[6]

3. They’re a great source of antioxidants

These antioxidants not only make chia seeds extremely shelf-stable[7], they also reduce free radicals.[8] Free radicals cause cell damage, which can lead to everything from aging to cancer.

4. Meet your weight loss goals

While the jury is still out on whether chia seeds make your body better at burning fat, they can definitely help you in your weight loss journey. When swallowed or allowed to soak, the seeds produce a gel-like substance that can make you feel full faster.[9]

5. Get stronger bones

Since a serving of chia seeds contains a whopping 18% of your daily recommended intake of Calcium, consuming them is bound to have a positive effect on bone health.[10] To be clear, a serving of chia seeds contains more calcium than a serving of milk.

Trace minerals such as magnesium and boron, both of which can be found in chia seeds, make it easier for your body to absorb Vitamin D. Vitamin D, in turn, enables your body to make use of all that calcium.[11]

6. Prevent and manage type 2 diabetes

Diets high in fiber prevent the insulin roller coaster that can trigger diabetes. A high fiber diet not only prevents diabetes, but also makes it easier to manage the illness.[12]

7. Detoxify your body

Since chia seeds support your digestive health, they help you get rid of toxins naturally. Their anti-inflammatory qualities enable them to prevent and repair damage that takes place at a cellular level. The result is less waste from your body, and more effective elimination of waste that you do produce.[13]

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8. Enjoy those Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, prevent cancer, and support health overall, but they aren’t always easy to incorporate into your diet. Flax seeds are a common source of omega-3 fatty acids, but your body can’t break flax seeds down on its own.

On the other hand, you can fully digest chia seeds, which gives you access to all their inflammation-fighting powers.[14]

9. Keep your heart healthy

Those amazing Omega-3s support cardiovascular health. Chia seeds’ incredible combination of Omega-3s, trace minerals, and anti-inflammatory properties lower blood pressure, and even prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).[15]

10. Lower your cholesterol

The omega-3 fatty acids and high fiber content of chia seeds can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.[16]

Adding chia seeds to your diet is a cinch

Since chia seeds have such a mild flavor, you can easily incorporate them into a number of dishes that you already make. They pair well with sweet and savory dishes. Whether you sprinkle a serving onto your salad, use the seeds in a smoothie, or add them to baked recipes, you’re in for a treat.

Try these delicious chia seed recipes

Coconut Chia Protein Pancakes[17]

    You need:

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    • 1⁄4 cup gluten free all purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
    • 3 tablespoons vanilla whey protein powder
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
    • sea salt (a pinch)
    • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
    • 1 tablespoon coconut flakes
    • 1 egg
    • 4 tablespoons almond milk

    To make this:

    1. Mix dry ingredients into a bowl. Gradually add wet ingredients and stir thoroughly.

    2. Heat and grease a frying pan or skillet. Use 2 Tbs. of batter per pancake.

    3. After the top of the pancake starts to bubble, flip it and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

    Blueberry-Chia Smoothie[18]

      You need:

      • 1 large banana, cut into 1-inch pieces, frozen
      • ½ cup frozen pineapple chunks
      • ¼ cup Blueberry–Chia Seed Jam
      • 1 cup coconut water or unsweetened almond milk
      • 1 tablespoon golden flaxseed oil (optional)

      To make this:

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      Blend these ingredients together until you have a smooth mixture. Enjoy!

      Grain-Free Chia Buckwheat Pizza ((NYOUTRITIOUS: Grain-Free Chia Buckwheat Pizza))

        You need:

        PIZZA BASE

        • ¼ cup chia seeds (whole)¾ cup water
        • 3 tbsp unrefined whole grain buckwheat flour (gluten free)
        • 1 tsp oregano, dried
        • 1 tbsp pine nuts, chopped
        • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, chopped
        • 1 tsp sea salt

        TOPPINGS

        • ¼ cup tomato paste
        • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
        • 4 mushrooms, sliced
        • 4-5 slices bell pepper, sliced
        • small handful fresh basil leaves
        • 1-2 tsp oregano, dried
        • ½ Spanish onion, sliced
        • salt & pepper to taste
        • 1 oz goats cheddar cheese, grated
        • handful arugula leaves (rucola)

        To make this:

        1. Combine chia seeds, water, buckwheat flour, oregano & salt and mix well until the mixture starts to thicken up.
        2. Add chopped pine nuts and pumpkin seed.
        3. Spread out the crust mixture on a piece of parchment paper and form the dough in a round shape. Flatten to about 1 cm for a firm thin crust.
        4. Bake at 175°C (350°F) for 30-40 minutes until firm.
        5. Remove from oven and add toppings of your choice and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
        6. Grate goat’s cheese on top and sprinkle with fresh arugula before serving.

        Dynamite comes in small packages

        Though small in size, chia seeds have a lot to offer us. Add them to your diet to reap the many benefits of enjoying this super-food.

        Reference

        More by this author

        Jolie Choi

        Gone through a few heartbreaks and lost hundreds of friends but I am still happy with my life.

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        Last Updated on March 13, 2019

        How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

        How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

        Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

        You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

        Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

        1. Work on the small tasks.

        When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

        Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

        2. Take a break from your work desk.

        Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

        Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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        3. Upgrade yourself

        Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

        The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

        4. Talk to a friend.

        Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

        Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

        5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

        If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

        Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

        Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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        6. Paint a vision to work towards.

        If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

        Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

        Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

        7. Read a book (or blog).

        The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

        Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

        Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

        8. Have a quick nap.

        If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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        9. Remember why you are doing this.

        Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

        What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

        10. Find some competition.

        Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

        Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

        11. Go exercise.

        Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

        Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

        As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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        Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

        12. Take a good break.

        Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

        Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

        Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

        Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

        More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

        Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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