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Published on October 27, 2017

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 September 20, 2018

        How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

        How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

        Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

        If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

        1. Breathe

        The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

        • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
        • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
        • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

        Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

        2. Loosen up

        After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

        Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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        3. Chew slowly

        Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

        Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

        Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

        4. Let go

        Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

        The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

        It’s not. Promise.

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        Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

        Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

        21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

        5. Enjoy the journey

        Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

        Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

        6. Look at the big picture

        The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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        Will this matter to me…

        • Next week?
        • Next month?
        • Next year?
        • In 10 years?

        Hint: No, it won’t.

        I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

        Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

        7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

        You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

        Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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        8. Practice patience every day

        Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

        • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
        • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
        • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

        Final thoughts

        Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

        Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

        Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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