Chia Seeds Health Benefits & Weight Loss Guide
You probably had a Chia Pet or knew someone who did — or you at least know what it is. Basically, they’re chia seeds that grow into spouts after a couple of weeks, creating pets that have all kinds of funky hair looks.
But today, we’re not going to be talking about Chia Pets or sprouts. We’re going to be discussing some health benefits of chia seeds and how to cook them.
What Are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are derived from the plant chia or Salvia hispanica, a desert plant from the mint family. Experts believe they originated in Central America because it was an ancient Aztec diet staple. Chia seeds are mostly black, with some white and brown seeds in the mix.
Nowadays, people consume chia seeds for a boost of nutrition, and they abide by even the strictest of diets, whether you’re vegan, paleo, or strictly plant-based. It’s also been quite popular as an aid for weight loss.
What is “Chia Seeds” in Tagalog?
This superfood doesn’t have a direct translation to the Tagalog language since it’s believed to have originated in Central America. However, it can be indirectly translated to buto ng halamang chia, which translates to “seeds of the chia plant” in English.
What’s in Chia Seeds?
General Nutritional Information
So how did chia seeds earn its title as a superfood anyway? Let’s take a look at their nutritional information based on serving sizes of 2 tablespoons, 1 ounce or 28.4 grams:
|SERVING SIZE: 2 tablespoons or 1 ounce or 28.4 grams|
*Omega-3 fatty acids are good for cardiac health and may help lower blood pressure
**Omega-6 fatty acids reduce risks of heart disease, lowers bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol levels, and reduces cancer risks
Chia seeds are poor in vitamin content but packed with a bunch of minerals. Using the same serving size as above, here are the minerals in chia seeds:
|Calcium (180 mg)||– For strong, healthy bones and teeth|
– Needed to clot blood
– Helps with contracting muscles
|Iron (2 mg)||– Needed for hemoglobin (protein that brings oxygen from lungs to the rest of the body)|
– Vital for immune system functioning
|Magnesium (95 mg)||– Regulates muscle function|
– Maintains healthy heart rhythm
– Regulates blood pressure and cholesterol
|Manganese (0.8 mg)||– Needed in connective tissues|
– Aids in bone formation and blood clotting
– Improves fat and carbohydrate metabolism
– Helps with calcium absorption
– Regulates blood sugar
|Phosphorous (245 mg)||– Works with calcium for better bone and teeth health|
– Maintains balance between acids and bases
– Helps with storage and use of energy
|Potassium (116 mg)||– Counters sodium to maintain healthy blood pressure|
– Maintains balance between acids and bases
|Zinc (1 mg)||– Needed for a healthy immune system|
– Stimulates activity of over 100 different enzymes
While these all seem like small amounts, the percentage of the mineral content packed in such a small portion of chia seeds is huge, therefore significant. Plus, many of these minerals are only effective when consumed in these seemingly small doses. So it’s safe to say that chia seeds benefit your health greatly.
Other Plant Compounds
Not only do these seeds have a ton of minerals in them, but they also have a few plant compounds that are great for your health, such as:
- Caffeic acid – A common substance in plants that may aid in reducing inflammation
- Chlorogenic acid – An antioxidant that may lower blood pressure
- Kaempferol – An antioxidant associated with decreased risk of cancer and some other chronic diseases
- Quercetin – An antioxidant helping to reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and osteoporosis
Chia Seeds Health Benefits
Trying to learn about all the nutrients of this superfood can cause information overload, so let’s break down all its amazing perks. Besides being a source of nutrients for very little calories, here are some chia seeds health benefits:
They’re full of antioxidants
As we discussed in the previous section, there are quite a few antioxidants in chia seeds.
These antioxidants have two roles. One is that they prevent the production of free radicals, which are harmful components in the body that cause damage to the cells. These can further lead to signs of aging and several diseases.
Another role of antioxidants in chia seeds is to protect fat from going rancid, therefore helping them last longer even without refrigeration.
They’re a vegan-friendly way to consume omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are great for cardiac health and can decrease high blood pressure.
Like flax seeds, chia seeds are very rich in omega-3 fats. In fact, it has the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids among all other plant species. And when you compare them gram by gram with salmon, chia seeds actually contain more omega-3’s.
But the one thing you have to keep in mind is that not all omega-3 fatty acids are made equal. In fact, some omega-3 oils in chia seeds are difficult for the human body to break down.
They’re great for bone health
Chia seeds are packed with all these great nutrients that help your bones and teeth remain strong and healthy. Some of these nutrients include calcium, phosphorus, and protein.
They’re also an excellent source of calcium for vegans, lactose intolerants, and even those who generally don’t consume dairy.
They may help maintain healthy blood sugar levels
For anyone suffering from type 2 diabetes, chia seeds are great in helping you manage percentages of sugar in your blood.
After consuming a high-carb meal, your blood sugar tends to rise, but studies show that consuming chia seeds can help in lowering blood sugar.
They can get rid of acid reflux, heartburn and indigestion
With all its nutrients that aid in better digestion, it’s no surprise that chia can also eliminate and prevent cases of digestive problems, such as heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux.
Do Chia Seeds Really Help You Lose Weight?
Now on to the big question. Chia seeds are commonly associated with weight loss. And we’re happy to let you know that they’re indeed a great alternative for most diets. You can use chia seeds for weight loss to get optimal results.
Of the many types of food, they’re probably one of the best sources of fiber out there. Your body cannot actually digest fiber, unlike how it digests carbs like sugar and starch. While your body doesn’t process fiber, what it can do is increase the volume of food you consume by absorbing more water. Chia seeds absorb enough H20 to cause it to turn into a gel-like liquid as the seeds expand, preventing them from breaking down too quickly. This expansion makes you feel full for a longer period of time, thereby decreasing your food intake.
And it’s not just the fiber that helps you lose weight. In fact, they contain numerous grams of protein which can also help you shed extra pounds. This nutrient is known to reduce appetite and food intake.
If you’re worried about chia seeds calories you might be consuming, you’ll be happy to know that they have no gluten, thus, perfect for those following (or want to follow) a healthier gluten-free diet.
Chia Seeds Side Effects
Everything, when consumed in exceeding amounts, is unhealthy. Even with all its outstanding health benefits, there can be potential risks involved in eating chia seeds when consumed too much.
As mentioned earlier, there are several types of Omega-3 fatty acids. Chia contains some omega-3 oils that are difficult for the human body to break down. Further, these Omega-3 acids help lower blood pressure, which is great for those who are high-blood. But for people who already have low blood pressure, it might not be a very good idea to adhere to a chia-rich diet. In this case, small doses will do.
How to Prepare Chia Seeds
It’s crazy how much nutritional value there is in just one or two tablespoons of chia seeds. What’s even more exciting is how easy it is to incorporate them into your existing diet. From pudding to baked goods, there are plenty of ways you can cook and eat chia seeds.
Let’s go over some tips on using, cooking, and basically making the most out of this diet food.
Soak Them Whenever Possible
While it’s not totally necessary to soak chia seeds before consumption, here are the two reasons why you should do so anyway:
- They may pose as a choking hazard when eaten dry
- Soaking them will maximize their nutritional benefits
Though some people like to sprinkle ground seeds over their food, you don’t get as much bang for your buck when they aren’t soaked.
So instead of eating them dry and missing out on all their health benefits, it’s a much better idea to soak them before cooking. All you need to do is put them in water for at least 5 minutes. You can even go as far as leaving them in the refrigerator for a few days.
Add Them in Water
You might be asking how to drink chia seeds — or can you? Whenever you want to make a drink you can bring with you to work, you most certainly can. Oh She Glows has a simple recipe that can help keep your energy up at the office, and possibly even curb your cravings.
Simply add chia seeds in water and stir. Before drinking it, let it soak for 10 minutes or so to allow them to absorb the liquid. If you want a sweeter beverage, you can always add lime or lemon juice in the mix!
Add Them Into Your Smoothies or Oatmeal
Love starting your mornings with smoothies? You can have them with chia seeds! Just remember to soak them overnight so they can mix well with your drink. If you’re making overnight oats, all you have to do is add chia seeds into a jar, and put in a little more milk than you normally would in your recipe.
Make Cereal Out of Chia Seeds
Instead of going with conventional boxed cereal, soak a voluminous amount of chia seeds in milk overnight in the fridge. In the morning, add your favorite fruits and nuts, and throw in some maple syrup or vanilla extract for extra sweetness.
Make Chia Pudding
Are you more of a pudding kind of person? Chia pudding is extremely simple to make. According to Feel Good Foodie, all you need to do is soak 2 tablespoons of chia seeds in 1/2 cup of milk and 1 teaspoon of sweetener. Slice some fruits of your choice for some extra toppings.
Use Them as an Egg Substitute in Baked Goods, Pancakes, etc.
Thinking of going vegan? Make your transition a whole lot easier by replacing eggs with chia. All you have to do is soak 1 tablespoon of chia seeds in 2.5 tablespoons of water for at least five minutes, and you’ve got yourself a vegan-friendly meal that can serve as a great alternative for eggs.
Store Them Properly
Chia seeds can last for years when they’re stored under the right conditions. As long as you put the seeds in a sealed bag or container and keep it in a cool, dry place, they will last for a very long time.
You may also want to store them in your freezer if you’re concerned about the humidity levels in your house.
Do Your Research!
There are tons of ways to consume chia. You can make protein bars or sprinkle them in savory foods that require breading! Nutritionists and health bloggers share their recipes online all the time, so all it takes is a quick search to see which ones work best according to your diet.
Our Favorite Chia Seeds Recipe
Out of the various chia seed recipes out there, our favorite has to be this extremely easy Vanilla and Chia Cupcakes, courtesy of Eighty20 Nutrition. Baking can be pretty intimidating, but this recipe is simple to follow and incorporates only healthy ingredients. It’s even grain-free, for those who are on a gluten-free diet or watching their carb intake.
Here’s what you need to make 12 chia cupcakes:
- 2 cups of almond flour
- 2 tablespoons of coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup of raw honey
- 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup of coconut oil, melted at room temperature
- Frosting (your choice)
The directions are straightforward. First, preheat your oven to 170ºC. In a medium-sized bowl, mix all your dry ingredients. In a big bowl, whip all your wet ingredients until the mixture is light and frothy. Add your dry ingredients to the big bowl a little at a time, gently mixing every time you add the dry mixture. Once you fully incorporate all your dry ingredients, place cupcake liners in your muffin tin. Spoon your mixture into each cupcake liner, then bake it for 25 minutes. Afterward, let them cool completely and decorate with frosting on top!
Where to Buy Chia Seeds
Ready to jump-start your new health journey? Pretty Me currently has Organic Black Chia Seeds on sale for just ₱100 (originally ₱ 150) for 100 grams. You may purchase a bag directly on our website. If you prefer and already have an existing account on Lazada, you can check out the chia seeds price on our official Lazada page.
Lazada is the nation’s number one online shopping destination with secure online transactions, flexible payment options, and reliable delivery services. If there is a digital shopping network you can trust, it’s Lazada.
Pretty Me products in this post:
Organic Black Chia Seeds
Sheena is the lead fashion writer here at Pretty Me Philippines and has contributed articles for numerous lifestyle blogs and online publications. Other than keeping up with the latest trends, she loves baking and home DIY projects.