THE BLOG

5 Reasons To Start Using Chia Seeds

11/27/2015 01:58 EST | Updated 11/27/2016 05:12 EST
oksix via Getty Images
chia seeds close up in a wooden bowl

Do you use chia seeds?

Chia seeds are something that have been used for quite a long time and they can have a great impact on your health.

Don't worry, there will be no terrible Chia Pet jokes in this article, nor any instance of me using the infamous jingle that you are undoubtedly singing in your head right now...

(Fun Fact: The Chia Pet commercial jingle came about in an agency brainstorming meeting where one of the individuals present pretended to stutter the product name. )

History Of Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are a small, oval shaped seed that have a diameter of only one millimetre. They tend to be black in colour but brown, gray and white varieties exist.

Originally cultivated by the Aztecs, chia seeds come from the Salvia Hispanica which is a flowering plant that is part of the mint family. South American countries were the main producer of chia seeds, but now Australia takes the title of the world's top producer.

People finally got tired of vegemite...

The name chia comes from the Nahuatl word chian which means "oily," and this no doubt makes reference to the gelatinous gel chia seeds give off when they get exposed to liquids. It's this "gel" that helps to provide much of their tremendous health benefits. Here now are five ways that chia seeds can benefit your health.

1. Chia Seeds Have A High Fiber Content

Chia seeds contain carbohydrates, but around 95 per cent of that is in the form of fibre. This type of carbohydrate source won't elicit an insulin response the same way a refined flour or starch would, so it's effective at keeping blood sugar levels under control.

This fibre is helpful in maintaining a healthy gut bacteria, helping digestion, absorption and overall health. Fibre, along with protein and water, are also really helpful in keeping you full, and for longer.

2. Chia Seeds Are High In Omega 3

Chia seeds contain alpha-linoleic acid which isn't as potent as EPA and DHA that tend to be found in fish or grass-fed beef, but can still be beneficial. There are studies showing how ALA can help combat against heart disease and that it is seen as a cardio-protective nutrient.

Though it's not at the same level of potency of omega-3 from fish, chia seeds still contain, gram for gram, more omega 3 than salmon.

3. Chia Seeds Are High In Protein

By weight, chia seeds are 11 per cent protein which is pretty decent for a plant. They contain quite a lot of essential amino acids making it a great protein source for vegetarians. Finding adequate protein sources can present a challenge for many vegetarians but chia seeds rank right up there with quinoa as a top choice.

4. Chia Seeds Are Packed With Nutrients

Once again it's amazing how much is packed into this little seed. Just consider it the mighty mouse of the food world. Have a look what you're getting in a 1 ounce (28 gram) serving:

- 11 grams of fiber

- 4 grams of protein

- 5 grams of omega 3

- 18 per cent of the RDA for calcium

- 30 per cent of the RDA for manganese

- 27 per cent of the RDA for phosphorus

- zinc

- Vitamin B1, B2 and B3

- potassium

5. Chia Seeds Can Help People With Type 2 Diabetes

As mentioned before the high fibre and protein content helps to keep blood sugar levels stable, clearly something important for those who suffer from type 2 diabetes. Interesting research from the Cleveland Clinic shows that chia seeds have the ability to help improve blood pressure in diabetics.

Still no word on if they've been able to find a solution for LeBron's whining...

Wrapping It Up

So you can see some really nice health benefits from using chia seeds. They are easy to add into anything such as smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, salads and soups. They really don't have any flavour and can even make their own pudding if you combine with some almond milk and a bit of honey.

They are becoming more available in health shops and grocery stores, but I like to get mine from bulk food stores. They are always available, cheaper and don't have to be smeared on a terra cotta animal.

MORE ON HUFFPOST:

Everything You Need To Know About Chia Seeds