The world today is facing a challenge due to an increase in non-communicable diseases. Heart diseases, different types of cancers, and diabetes are among the leading causes of fatalities globally. Scientists and nutritionists have discovered that poor diet is one of the major causes of these chronic illnesses. With this in mind, everyone has become careful of what they consume daily to remain healthy.
A balanced diet that provides sufficient nutrients to the body without adding excess calories is a preference to many. Such a combination, therefore, prevents one from adding excessive weight. Being overweight can lead to obesity and other related complications.
Foods rich in antioxidants have gained popularity among many people who want to remain healthy. Also, those with a high dietary fiber content are in high demand. Dietary fiber enhances bowel movement and reduces the risk of high blood sugar. However, many people experience challenges choosing foods that contain all these benefits. This article looks into the health benefits of chia seeds.
What are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are small black seeds produced by the chia plant. The plant (Salvia Hispanic) originated from Mexico and Guatemala. The tiny seeds are flat, oval-shaped, and have a glossy smooth texture. You can either find them in a white, black, or brown color.
Chia seeds are significantly nutritious. They are rich in fiber, high-quality proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. They also constitute several essential minerals, including Magnesium, Selenium, Manganese, Copper, Phosphorus, Iron, and Calcium.
Chia seeds are also highly versatile. You can soak the seeds and add them to your bowl of porridge or pudding. Alternatively, you may use them while baking foods or sprinkle them on salads and yogurt. Some people also incorporate Chia seeds when making fruit jams or thickening fruit juices.
The following are some health benefits of Chia seeds:
Prevent cancer and other chronic conditions
Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants like quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol, and chlorogenic and caffeic acids. Antioxidants are substances that help the body to fight or slow down cell damage caused by free radicals. As your body processes food or reacts to the environment, the cells produce free radicals as waste substances.
If the body doesn’t get rid of the free radicals effectively, oxidative stress occurs. Consequently, they damage body cells and alter body functions. Researchers have linked cell destruction from oxidative stress to conditions like cancer, vision loss, and atherosclerosis. Hence, consuming chia seeds will help your body keep these diseases at bay.
Maintain the normal blood sugar levels
Chia seeds are rich in dietary fiber. Although fiber is a carbohydrate, it does not increase the blood sugar level or require insulin to regulate it. It is, therefore, different from starch and glucose. Eating chia seeds makes you full fast, unlike foods rich in calories. For instance, bread baked from chia seeds prevents high blood sugar that can cause diabetes.
Can help in weight loss
Some studies have linked chia seeds to weight loss. Due to the high fiber composition, chia seeds absorb lots of water. They then produce a gel-like substance that makes you get full easily. Hence, you won’t eat much food that can lead to weight gain. Chia seeds are also rich in protein. This protein reduces appetite and makes you feed less.
Enhance bone health
Chia seeds are rich in minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Your body requires these minerals to form strong bones and teeth. Lack of enough calcium in the diet forces the body to obtain it from the bones, leading to osteoporosis (bone damage). Calcium deficiency can also cause irritability, anxiety, depression, and difficulty in sleeping. Hence, eating chia seeds helps to reduce the risk of developing these conditions.
May reduce chronic inflammation
Inflammation refers to the body’s normal reaction to an infection or an injury. The process is vital in helping your body to heal and fight disease-causing microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. However, it can harm your body at times. Chronic inflammation, for example, can lead to increased heart disease and cancer. Unhealthy lifestyles like smoking, poor diet, and lack of exercise can lead to this type of inflammation. Studies have shown that eating chia seeds daily reduces the risks of chronic inflammation in diabetic patients.
A rich source of protein
Did you know that chia seeds provide a higher amount of protein than other plant sources of protein? Therefore, the seeds are a good source of protein for vegetarians. In addition, the protein in chia seeds is well balanced in terms of the essential amino acid composition. Children need proteins for fast and healthy growth. A high protein intake from chia seeds also reduces appetite. Consuming chia seeds daily will make you eat less; hence’ maintain healthy body weight.
Prevent against heart disease
Chia seeds have high contents of protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known for maintaining a healthy heart. Research has also revealed that the three nutrients significantly reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension. Hypertension is one of the risk factors for heart disease.
Diverticulosis refers to a condition where diverticula (some pockets) form on the digestive tract’s walls, especially the colon. They occur when the intestines’ inner layer pushes through weak spots in the outer lining. The resulting pressure causes the intestines to protrude outwards and form small pouches. A diet rich in fiber decreases the prevalence of this condition, as fiber absorbs water in the colon and eases bowel movements. Fiber also reduces pressure and inflammation in the colon. Therefore, consuming chia seeds provides you with the amount of fiber required to prevent this condition.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is one of the greatest investments one can make in life. Numerous studies have revealed that incorporating chia seeds into one’s diet has a lot of health benefits. Hence, the seeds could answer most people’s queries on what nutritious foods they can add to their daily menus.