Chia Seed Benefits: The Alkaline, Omega-3-Rich, High Protein Superfood
I absolutely LOVE chia seeds and use them daily. Chia seed benefits are so varied – the nutrient makeup means they can positively impact your health in so many ways. Plus they are absolutely packed with alkaline goodness.
Chia seeds have been around for a long time, so you probably already know many of their benefits from personal experience. And today I want to highlight a few of the benefits associated with chia seeds, as our latest installment of our “Alkaline Foods Spotlight”.
They are one of the most alkaline foods on the planet. These highly nutritious seeds are loaded with antioxidants and essential fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation in the body and assist in weight loss. They also provide protein, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, iron, niacin (vitamin B3), thiamine (vitamin B1), potassium, and zinc.
The nutritional power found within just one ounce of chia seeds is absolutely amazing!
What Are Chia Seeds?
The commonly used definition for chia seeds is that they are small, edible seeds that come from the desert plant Salvia Hispanica. They are typically black or white in color, and typically quite tiny. The size of these little “powerhouses” can vary greatly depending on where you purchase them. Chia seeds grow wild in Mexico and were a staple food of the Aztecs over 1,000 years ago.
Today chia seeds are typically used to boost energy, as they can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water. They also provide fiber, protein, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids that help control blood sugar levels. These tiny seeds may be small, but they pack a big nutritional punch!
So why are chia seeds good for you? Keep reading for a complete list of chia seeds benefits, and some simple recipes to add this tasty seed into your life.
Nutritional Content of Chia Seeds:
One ounce (about 28 grams) of chia seeds contains approximately:
- 4.4 grams protein
- 8.6 grams fat (incl. 132% RDI of omega 3)
- 10.6 grams dietary fiber (33% RDI)
- 0.6 milligram manganese (30% RDI)
- 265 milligrams phosphorus (27% RDI)
- 177 milligrams calcium (18% RDI)
- 1 milligram zinc (7% RDI)
- 0.1 milligram copper (3% RDI)
- 44.8 milligrams potassium (1% RDI)
In addition to the above, chia seeds also contain vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin D, and vitamin E; and the alkaline minerals iron, iodine, magnesium, niacin, and thiamine.
Chia Seed Benefits:
Chia seeds, being SO full of such a unique range of nutrients, have so many fantastic benefits to your health (on top of being highly alkaline, of course). Let’s get into them now.
1. Chia Seeds are High in Antioxidants
This little seed packs a powerful antioxidant punch that may help prevent diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. They are also known for their anti-inflammatory effects. Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants called flavonoids, which appear to have a significant role in protecting our cells from oxidative stress. They also have strong antioxidant activity, due in large part to the presence of polyphenols and flavonoids, which can help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer.
2. Source of Essential Fatty Acids
These little seeds provide a good dose of essential fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation in the body. This is due to the omega-3 fatty acids that they contain, which can also support brain health and memory. They are a fabulous source of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that plays an important role in preventing heart disease and cancer. ALA also provides support for proper immune function and brain function and may be used in the treatment of depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis, diabetes mellitus type 2, psoriasis, eczema, acne vulgaris, and respiratory infections.
3. High In Fiber
Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, with one ounce providing around 11 grams. Fiber is essential for good health and the prevention of diseases such as heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, colon cancer, and diverticulitis.
The soluble fiber in chia has been shown to be more effective than oat and soybean fiber at increasing the feeling of fullness. Soluble fibers bind bile acids, which are then excreted in the stool. This increases the amount of fat that would otherwise be reabsorbed by the body, leading to reduced blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber also reduces the amount of insulin needed by type 2 diabetics.
4. May Help Fight Cancer
Chia seeds are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is incredibly important and beneficial to the body, in so many ways – particularly in fighting cancer.
In 2013, a study published in the Journal of Molecular Biochemistry found that ALA limits the growth of both breast and cervical cancer cells.
This 2015 study went a step further to show the potential of ALA to be protective against specific obesity-induced cancers.
And this 2020 study showed the powerful antioxidant potential of ALA is what drives the chemoprotective potential.
5. Chia Seed Benefits Blood Sugar Control
Another major benefit of chia seeds is their ability to help control blood sugar levels. The alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in these little “super seeds” can help improve insulin resistance.
The high amount of fiber in chia seeds also helps slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, which limits your body’s need to produce insulin. This means that you will not experience the highs and lows associated with normal blood sugar levels.
One study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that their power is so strong, that even adding chia seed to a high-sugar diet prevented changes in blood sugar and lipid levels.
What’s more, another study in The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adding extra chia seeds to regular white bread reduces the glycemic response to prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels.
6. Great for Skin Health
Chia seeds also deliver a major benefit to skin health, thanks to their rich antioxidant content.
When the water-soluble antioxidants present in these little seeds come into contact with moisture on the skin surface, they can reduce inflammation and protect against oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
7. Chia Can Help Alleviate Joint Pain
Adding chia seeds to your daily regimen is also a great way to naturally fight joint pain, thanks to their high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
A small study published in the plant extract journal Phytotherapy Research showed that chia seed supplementation helped reduce joint pain in only 14 days.
And this study conducted at the University of South Australia found that these seeds may be able to help fight joint diseases like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
8. Supports Weight Loss
Adding chia seeds to your diet is also a great way to lose weight. That’s because their high fiber content (boasting 9.75 grams (g) per 1 ounce (oz) serving) can help you feel full longer, which can help control your cravings.
Chia seeds are also one of the most protein-rich plant foods (4.69 g of protein per serving). Additional protein in the diet can help curb hunger and cravings, while also helping increase lean muscle, burn fat, and manage hunger and appetite.
The healthy fats in chia also help soothe inflammation, while also helping to balance the ‘hunger hormones’, leptin, and ghrelin. When these hormones are out of balance we are more likely to feel hungry, and not full.
Another important hormone for weight loss is adiponectin. Adiponectin is made in the fat cells, and its job is to help get sugar out of the bloodstream. The more adiponectin you have in your body, the better off you are in terms of managing blood sugar levels.
Several studies have shown that chia seeds can help promote weight loss because they can improve adiponectin levels in both lean and overweight individuals.
This double-blind, randomized controlled trial gave obese individuals with type 2 diabetes 30g of chia seeds, daily, for six months and found significant weight loss, improved glycemic control, and reduced inflammation.
9. Chia Seed Benefits: Strengthens Bones
Because of their high calcium and manganese content, chia seeds can also help you maintain stronger bones.
The human body cannot produce calcium on its own, which means that it needs to be consumed in the diet. Chia seeds are loaded with calcium and manganese.
While many people already associate calcium with bone health, manganese is also essential in bone metabolism, with studies showing that a deficiency in this key nutrient can impair bone resorption and decrease bone formation.
While most people think of dairy as their primary source of calcium, a single ounce of chia seeds actually contains 18% of the calcium you need in a day while also meeting 30% of your daily manganese needs too!
Chia Seed Uses:
Now that you know all these amazing chia seed benefits, here are some great ideas on how to use this little seed in order to reap the rewards.
- Add chia seeds to your salad dressings and marinades for an antioxidant boost.
- Mix in 2 tablespoons of chia seeds into a smoothie or juice for extra fiber, protein, and antioxidant boost.
- Sprinkle over coconut yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, or use as a topping on baked goods for added texture and crunch.
- Use as an egg replacement. In order to replace one egg, simply mix 1 tablespoon of white chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Let it gel for a few minutes and then use as you would an egg in any recipe.
- Use as a thickening agent. In order to thicken soups, sauces or other liquid dishes simply mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 2 tablespoons of water and let sit for about 30 minutes.
- Make a pudding! In order to make a chia seed pudding, simply add 3 tablespoons of chia seeds to 1 cup of dairy or non-dairy milk and let it sit for 15 minutes in the fridge.
- Replace your flour. In some baked goods, you can replace up to 25% of the required amount of flour with chia seeds.
- Make a “chia gel.” Grind chia seeds into a fine powder and mix it with water to create the consistency of a gel that can be used as an egg replacer. This is particularly great if you are making vegan recipes or gluten-free goods.
For me personally, I find I most frequently use chia seeds:
- in my morning oats
- in smoothies
- in chia pots!
See some example recipes below!
Ross’ Recipes Using Chia Seeds:
- Coconut Cream Chia Pots (delicious for brekky or dessert)
- Chia Seed Energy Crackers
- Chai Infused Quinoa Porridge
- The ‘Full-Til-Lunch’ Breakfast Smoothie
Ross’ Final Thoughts:
As you can see, chia seeds are an incredible super-food full of antioxidants and other nutrients that make them a powerful addition to your diet.
The alkaline diet is built around regularly including power foods like chia. With its protein, omega-3, fiber, antioxidants, and abundance of alkaline minerals, it really is a must-have, that is so easy to include on a daily basis.
I would greatly encourage you all to go out and purchase some organic chia seeds and try some of these recipes for yourself!
Let’s do this,