Our in-house Registered Dietician and Nutritionist, LeeAnn, breaks down the need-to-knows when it comes to this tiny but mighty superfood.
Chia seeds are tiny, round seeds that may appear black, brown or white in color. Attained from the Salvia hispanica plant, chia seeds are native to Central America and were a part of the diets of the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. While chia seeds are small, they are mighty when it comes to their nutritional value. Chia seeds are a rich source of important nutrients that offer health promoting benefits and protection against health concerns like diabetes and heart disease.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, chia seeds have rightfully gained a reputation as a “superfood”. While studies on chia seeds in humans are limited, these tiny seeds likely support weight management, heart health, proper digestion, liver health, and blood sugar control.
Boasting 10 grams of fiber per serving (2 tablespoons), chia seeds can be added to meals to boost fiber content. One study found that people with weight concerns and diabetes who consumed chia seeds daily lost more weight than those who did not consume chia seeds (1). Chia’s high fiber content likely helps promote satiety and fullness. The healthy fats, fiber and protein in chia seeds make them a good choice for people with diabetes. Chia seeds may improve insulin sensitivity, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels (2).
The antioxidants found in chia seeds include chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin and kaempferol, which may help to protect the liver and heart. Plus, the fiber and omega-3 fats in chia seeds may also contribute to a reduction in heart disease risk by improving blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels.
One of the benefits of chia seeds is that they are easy to incorporate into your daily diet. Here are five ways to reap the nutritional benefits of chia:
- Top foods like oatmeal, yogurt, rice, sliced fruit and cereal with chia seeds.
- Enjoy both homemade and store-bought baked goods that include chia seeds such as breads, muffins, pancakes, granola and crackers
- Add fiber and healthy fats to smoothies by blending them up with a serving of chia seeds.
- Quickly and easily add chia seeds into your routine by mixing them into beverages and chia puddings.
- Add chia sprouts to a salad or sandwich.
- Vuksan V, Jenkins AL, Brissette C, Choleva L, Jovanovski E, Gibbs AL, Bazinet RP, Au-Yeung F, Zurbau A, Ho HV, Duvnjak L, Sievenpiper JL, Josse RG, Hanna A. Salba-chia (Salvia hispanica L.) in the treatment of overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes: A double-blind randomized controlled trial. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2017 Feb;27(2):138-146. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2016.11.124. Epub 2016 Dec 9. PMID: 28089080.
- Marineli Rda S, Moura CS, Moraes ÉA, Lenquiste SA, Lollo PC, Morato PN, Amaya-Farfan J, Maróstica MR Jr. Chia (Salvia hispanica L.) enhances HSP, PGC-1α expressions and improves glucose tolerance in diet-induced obese rats. Nutrition. 2015 May;31(5):740-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2014.11.009. Epub 2014 Dec 19. PMID: 25837222.