A native South American plant from the mint family, chia gained its popularity in North America largely thanks to Chia Pets, known as “the pottery that grows.”
In fact, adding just two tablespoons of chia seeds to one’s diet provides as much as 42% of the recommended daily intake of fiber, 18% of calcium, 30% of manganese and 27% of phosphorus, among many other nutrients. Here is a brief outline of some of the major health benefits packed into these little seeds.
Healthy Bones and Teeth
Chia’s high content of minerals like calcium, phosphorus and manganese contributes to healthy bones, improves oral health and helps prevent osteoporosis.
One study showed that chia seeds may help regulate blood pressure in diabetics. Chia can also lower the levels of bad cholesterol, LDL, while increasing healthy cholesterol levels, all of which can lead to better heart health.
Better Weight Management
Chia can stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance – the ability that leads to a decrease in belly fat. Adding the seeds to your meal also ensures faster satiation. This is achieved partially thanks to an amino acid called tryptophan, which regulates appetite, improves sleep and leads to better mood. The combination of fiber and protein in chia also contributes to the feeling of satiation, reducing cravings and the need to snack between meals.
Improved Digestive Health
A one-ounce serving of chia seeds provides a whopping 11 grams of fiber, a nutrient that’s particularly beneficial to the digestive health. It ensures better bowel function, lowers cholesterol levels and even provides relief from IBS. Because of such a high concentration of fiber, though, you should eat chia in moderation. Too much fiber can lead to bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Chia is considered to be one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Just 3.5 tablespoons of chia seeds provide the same amount of the healthy fats as a 32-ounce serving of salmon.
This makes it a great option for vegetarians and people who worry about high mercury content in fish, allowing them to still get a required daily dose of omega-3s from a plant-based source.
Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to cognitive performance, improve learning and thinking, fight ADHD and reduce memory loss related to aging. They are also beneficial to heart, joint and lung health, along with a host of other advantages that these healthy fats provide.
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