Did you know about the health benefits of chia?
Although your first memory of the words chia seeds (salvia hispanica) may go way back to those catchy commercials raving about the magical chia plant needed in every home, the true healthbenefits of chia have only become popular worldwide in the last couple of years. Thanks to natural health becoming a way of life, we now find chia seeds in everything from granola bars to baked goods.
Thousands of food bloggers post daily about all the creative ways to incorporate chia seeds into your daily menu but many people don’t understand why this little nutrient gem is considered to be one of the top superfoods in the world. In fact, it was originally used as currency in Mexico by the Aztecs and highly valued for its medicinal properties. Let’s take a look at the top health benefits of chia seeds to see why they’re so super!
1. Reduces Inflammation.
When studying chronic disease, the precursor is always chronic inflammation so it’s imperative we understand which foods are naturally anti-inflammatory and chia seeds top the list. As a society, we consume way too many Omega 6’s from packaged food ingredients such as sunflower and corn oil and this causes inflammation in the body. We’re supposed to have an even balance between Omega 3 and 6 consumption, but we’re closer to 16:1 ratio as an average. Chia seeds contain 20% Omega 3’s therefore making them one of the top sources of natural ways to counteract the damaging effects of inflammation.
2. Spring Cleans the Digestive Tract.
From your mouth to your colon you’re looking at up to 30 feet of what we call the digestive tract along with some supporting organs. When we consume processed foods such as bagels, pizza and pasta, little tiny particles of food get lodged into the lining of the digestive tract. Over time they build up, especially in the colon, and this is where people often get in trouble and start experiencing issues such as constipation or even diverticulitis. What’s so amazing about chia seeds is due to their gel-like quality, when in contact with water they will absorb anything they touch, essentially “sweeping” the particles out of the body and cleansing it. Pretty amazing!
3. Powerful Belly Fat Burner.
Many studies have been done on the benefits of chia seeds but one of my favorites was this study that discovered chia seeds had the ability to improve the body’s ability to break down fat cells and release them, specifically the visceral adipose tissue (aka: belly fat). This is the most dangerous place on the body to carry fat and usually the area people are most self-conscious about. In addition, athletes have been tested comparatively to see how they performed when consuming straight Gatorade or a Gatorade/Chia Seed mix and the outcome was the same. However, the latter group consumed far less sugar and received some of the benefits chia seeds have to offer.
4. Supports a Healthy Heart.
When you think of the heart, I want you to correlate healthy fat consumption with it and make a proactive approach to incorporating the right kinds. We already discussed how chia seeds are very high in Omega 3 but they’re also high in linolenic acid which is a type of fatty acid that makes it easier for your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Because it is anti-inflammatory, this takes strain off the heart and also reduces the likelihood of developing atherosclerosis (ie: hardening of the arteries). Another awesome benefit is it naturally helps support healthy blood pressure levels.
5. Extremely Easy to Consume.
This may not be a specific health benefit, but my clients and I consider it to be one because one of the keys to long-term healthy eating is incorporating foods that are easy to stick with. Chia seeds are really neat because they don’t have a distinct flavor so you can really add them to pretty much anything. I add them into my smoothies and baking recipes for a superfood boost and also top my oatmeal and salads with them.
For an easy chia seed pudding, combine 1 ½ cups milk, 1 cup blueberries, a tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon of vanilla extract and blend. Stir in the chia seeds and let it chill in the refrigerator for a few hours until a pudding consistent is developed.
Where can you get them?
Most health food stores carry chia seeds or ground chia seeds, but you can choose from a variety on Amazon!