Chia seeds are a nutritionally rich South American staple native to Guatemala and Mexico. The plant, which belongs to the mint family, started gaining popularity in North America about 30 years ago, and these days one can find it on the shelves of most health food stores and many supermarkets.
As is the case with many less known foods, not much research has been done on chia to date, but the evidence that the existing studies show is very promising. The black, white and brown seeds are gluten free and packed with nutrients. They have a wide array of health benefits, making them a great addition to any diet.
Here are the top five nutrition facts you should know about chia.
Adding just one ounce or two tablespoons of chia seeds to your daily diet can provide you with as much as 11 grams of fiber, which is close to 40% of the recommended daily intake. A diet high in fiber has a host of benefits. It is known to normalize bowel movements, lower cholesterol levels, improve blood sugar levels and help maintain a healthy weight. Fiber contributes to a healthy heart, reduces the risk of stroke and helps maintain a healthy skin, among many other benefits.
Chia is known to be the best plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, providing as much as five grams per serving. These healthy fats can reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, improve lung function in asthma patients and fight depression. They improve cognitive performance and lead to an overall healthier brain, with some research even suggesting that omega-3s can protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Chia seeds are a good source of calcium, providing 18% of recommended daily intake. This contributes to stronger bones and teeth, helps prevent osteoporosis and wards off PMS symptoms in women. Calcium improves metabolism, promoting the body’s fat burning ability, which in turn leads to better weight management.
The seeds are loaded with antioxidants, which are great at protecting the body from aging, free radicals and cancers. The antioxidants in chia also help boost energy, fight fatigue and increase endurance. They protect the body against a number of various chronic diseases, including lung and prostate cancers, type 2 diabetes and asthma. The high antioxidant content also ensures that chia seeds can stay fresh for up to two years.
Chia seeds provide a range of other beneficial minerals, including 30% of the daily recommendation for manganese. This nutrient is known to improve bone and skin health, protect the system from free radical damage and control blood sugar levels. It also plays an important role in helping the body absorb vitamins like thiamine and biotin.
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