Functional foods with multiple health benefits are all the rage these days. The use of food as thy medicine is growing (which is wonderful) but sometimes people don’t actually know the health claims behind their favorite functional foods. Dietitians are working to providing education to those who may not know as much about food and nutrition or those who are looking to help prevent or treat chronic disease by healthier eating. Some of my favorite functional foods are seeds! So today I am going to discuss the health benefits of Chia Seeds and over the next few months I will be posting about my other favorite seeds that includes but are not limited to – hemp seeds, flax-seeds, and sunflower seeds!
Chia Seeds are full of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, antioxidants, dietary fiber, and phytochemicals which means they are packed to the brim with all the good nutrients including protein and minerals. The addition of chia seeds into a non-dairy diet is recommended due to its calcium content as well as the addition of chia seeds into a vegan diet for its protein content! Chia seeds are also gluten free and a “complete protein source” meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.
1 Tbsp of Chia Seeds Provides:
|Dietary Fiber||5 g
(19% of your Recommended Daily Allowance)
|Linoleic Acid||1 g
(7% of your Recommended Daily Allowance)
|A-linolenic Acid||2.5 g|
|Total Fat||4 g|
*Not a full nutrition chart, refer to Supertracker for a more detailed breakdown of nutrient composition.
- Chia seeds have been shown to help maintain a balanced serum lipid concentration (aka reduce total cholesterol, reduce LDL, increase HDL, and reduce triglycerides).
- Due to their high antioxidant content they aid in reducing inflammation in the body, check out my post on antioxidants for more information on the functions of antioxidants – Antioxidants and Free Radicals
- The dietary fiber content of chia seeds helps aid in digestion reducing chances of constipation and promoting normal bowel movements. The fiber content also can increase satiety, meaning eating less throughout the day and curbing hunger cravings.
- Therapeutic effects of chia in the control of diabetes, dyslipidemia and hypertension is scientifically established at this point in time as well.,
- Chia seeds are anti-inflammatory, anti-blood clotting, laxative, anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, and aid in vision health.
How Do I Add Chia Seeds to my Diet?
- Chia seeds can be eaten raw or prepared in a number of dishes. Sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds on cereal, rice, yogurt or vegetables.
- Chia seeds are always a great addition in smoothies and smoothie bowls!
- Adding small amounts of chia seeds to water and letting soak for ten minutes before drinking is a super super simple way to add some antioxidants and fiber into your water intake.
- Some products like Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter with Chia and Flax-seeds, already come with the chia seeds mixed in and ready to enjoy!
- Chia pudding is so easy to make, and can be eaten as a breakfast food or dessert! link here for a recipes: Chia Seed Pudding Recipes
And as always, make sure you discuss with a Registered Dietitian prior to adding large amounts of any supplement or food into your diet if taking medications due to the possibility of food and drug interactions.
Cinthia Scott, Registered Dietitian, LD, CNSC