Top cereal, oatmeal and salads with chia seeds to easily reap their nutritional benefits.
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Chia seeds have emerged as a superfood. From fat loss to greater energy and younger-looking skin, they offer myriad benefits. Thousands of years ago, Native American tribes ate these tiny seeds to gain strength and stamina. Nowadays, most people see them as a natural weight-loss aid and appetite suppressant. Despite their high nutritional value, chia seeds can be harmful when consumed in excess. Moderation is the key.
Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds
This superfood is highly prized for its nutritional value. One ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds provides 10.6 grams of fiber, which is 42 percent of the daily recommended intake. Chia seeds are also a good source of polyunsaturated fats, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, and potassium. A single serving of chia seeds delivers four grams of protein and only 137 calories.
Since these tiny seeds are low in carbs and high in fiber, they have a negligible impact on blood sugar levels. Upon ingestion, they can absorb up to 27 times their weight in water, forming a gel-like substance in your stomach. As a result, they fill you up quickly and keep hunger at bay. That's why nutritionists recommend eating chia seeds for better appetite control and weight loss. Additionally, fiber slows sugar absorption into your system, which helps prevent insulin spikes.
How Much Is Too Much?
When consumed in moderate doses, chia seeds are safe and unlikely to cause adverse reaction. The problem is that many dieters go overboard. Because of their ability to absorb water and swell, these seeds may cause bloating. If consumed dry, the risks are even greater.
Due to their high content of soluble fiber, these seeds cause your stomach to expand and may block the esophagus. Too much fiber can also result in diarrhea or constipation, severe stomach pain and excessive intestinal gas.
Furthermore, chia seeds may lead to excessive bleeding because of their high concentration of omega-3s. For this reason, they are not recommended for people taking blood thinners or preparing for surgery. There's also a risk of developing allergic reactions, such as watery eyes, hives and rash.
To stay safe, don't exceed 25 to 28 grams of chia seeds per day. This recommendation applies to both men and women. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases, diverticulitis or swallowing problems, it's advisable to avoid this food.
Soak the seeds in water, milk or fruit juices before consuming them. This way, they'll be easier to digest and cause less bloating. Try healthy recipes, such as chia pudding, oat crackers or homemade granola bars. By adding these seeds to your meals and smoothies, they'll fully expand in liquid before drinking or eating them.
Are Chia Seeds Really Healthy?
As long as you stick to the recommended dose, chia seeds are a healthy addition to any diet. They're loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, which may help prevent nutrient deficiencies.
A study published this year in Nutrients has found that rats following a diet containing 10 percent chia seeds experienced noticeable improvements in bone mineral density, body weight, body mass index and lipid profile within 13 months. Another study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition has found that blood pressure and plasma nitrite levels dropped significantly in hypertensive subjects who consumed 35 grams of chia flour daily for three months. The placebo group experienced none of these changes.
This superfood has been shown to stop up to 70 percent of free radical activity due to its high levels of phenolic acids and isoflavones. When consumed regularly, it may slow aging and protect against cellular damage.
The fiber in chia seeds not only promotes satiety but also feeds the healthy bacteria living in your gut. Basically, it acts as a prebiotic and helps balance the microflora. Some studies have linked these seeds to a lower risk of heart disease, hypertension and elevated cholesterol levels. These potential health benefits are due to their high content of omega-3s.
Chia seeds appear to be particularly beneficial for dieters. In clinical trials, subjects who ate these seeds with yogurt experienced less hunger and fewer sugar cravings. Additionally, they consumed less food throughout the day. Both protein and fiber, which occur naturally in chia seeds, have appetite-suppressing effects. These nutrients also keep your blood sugar levels stable and improve glycemic control.