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Chia Seeds: 8 Healthy Benefits

Updated on December 11, 2011

Tiny Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are about the size of poppy seeds.
Chia seeds are about the size of poppy seeds.

Chia Seeds

8 Benefits of Chia Seeds

Chances are you know those wonderful Chia Pets sold every year at Christmas time. Turns out those sprouted pets start out as healthy chia seeds and happen to be super nutritious. Among the many benefits of the seeds are the fact that they are considered a protein powerhouse.

Chia (Salvia Hispanica), has been used as a food since 3500 BC. It was a diet staple of the Mayans and Aztecs.

So What Are the Benefits of Chia Seeds?

1 - The Running Food - Chia seeds provide a great deal of fuel activity and for long periods of time. Thus the name "the running food," and why it was valued by the ancient Americas' people. Fitness enthusiasts today are becoming aware of these same benefits.

2 - Protein - About the size of a poppy seed, chia provides an abundance of protein. Protein is the basic building material of muscle and tissue. More than other plant based foods, chia seeds provides readily absorbed amounts of essential amino acids that the body does not produce.

3 - Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Additionally, chia provides a large amount of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, chia contains more omega-3 than the more popularly known and used, flax seeds.

4 - Micronutrients - High in antioxidants, chia seeds provide a hefty amount of minerals including B vitamins, vitamin C, as well as calcium, boron. iron and potassium.

5 - Hydrophilic Colloid - This soluble fiber helps to regulate the electrolyte balance in the body and keeps the body hydrated.

6 - Slows Conversion of Dietary Carbohydrates - Chia can form a gel which in turn helps provide a feeling of fullness and helps to slow the conversion of dietary carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). This feeling of fullness is also helpful for people wanting to lose weight. In addition, it helps the intestinal tract function.

7 - Type 2 Diabetes - According to a study published in the January 2009 British Journal of Nutrition, chia is showing healthy effects in laboratory research. Chia was shown to reduce resistance to insulin (the hormone that controls glucose). Additionally, in the Diabetic Care magazine, it was reported that chia lowered blood pressure and hemoglobin A1C, which is a blood-sugar marker.

8 - Easy to incorporate into the diet - Chia seeds have a mild and nutty flavor that mixes well with foods and beverages. In whole form they can be added to salads, yogurt and cereals. When ground, the seeds can be added to baked goods, salsa, soups and can be eaten sprouted. Sprouted is what we are used to seeing on the Chia Pets.

When chia is feed to chickens, eggs are higher in omega-3 fatty acids.

For numbered lists of more beneficial foods, including amazing vinegar, see the links below:

About Chia Seeds

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