Chia seeds are a popular addition to the diets of people who want to lose weight, regulate their blood pressure or blood sugar, and reverse the effects of aging. Before adding them to your diet, it’s important to understand their benefits and possible side effects.
Everything You Need To Know About Chia Seeds
As people become increasingly health conscious and strive to maintain a positive lifestyle, they have numerous types of diets and exercise programs available to follow.
If you’re like most people on a journey to a healthier you, then one of your main concerns may be which foods you should eat and avoid. Maintaining a healthy diet is also important if you suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes. And are looking to supplement your medication with a healthy, natural alternative.
While choosing the right diet is a very personal choice that depends on a number of different factors such as allergies or food sensitivities and restrictions. Some diets have the same foods in common. One of the foods that have made its way into mainstream diets lately is chia seeds.
These small, black seeds that come from the Salvia hispanica plant and are grown primarily in Central and South America, have been found to have numerous health benefits to those who consume them.
Many people like ingesting them because they’re a healthy alternative to medications and other processed foods that claim to be good for you. To decide if eating chia seeds is right for you, there are some things you need to understand about these small yet powerful seeds that have taken the nutrition world by storm.
Why People Eat Them
There are a number of reasons people include chia seeds in their diet. But the primary reason is their proven nutritional value.
They are an attractive supplement to most diets because they’re packed with antioxidants. And are a great source of protein, vitamins A, B, E, and D. As well as, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
While some people may eat chia seeds to stay on top of the latest in diet and nutrition trends, others may have been taking them for years for their numerous benefits.
While most diet choices are personal, the evidence proves that they are a beneficial addition to most diets.
Benefits of Chia Seeds
Aside from chia seeds being a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, there are many other health benefits of including chia seeds as part of your daily diet. The antioxidants in chia seeds make them a great anti-aging agent and can even slow down damage from free radicals, which can be detrimental to your skin. And even help prevent further damage and inflammation.
Some people prefer the natural energy boost chia seeds provide over a sugary sport or caffeinated drink.
Some trials have shown that people who consumed chia seeds before physical activity performed just as well as those who consumed a sports drink prior to working out. But this was with more health benefits and less sugar and fewer calories.
In addition to being a natural energy boost, chia seeds have been found to be a natural metabolism boost for people who are trying to lose weight. Research has shown that chia seeds can aid in burning belly fat and slow digestion. Which can help you feel full longer and reduce your likelihood of indulging in sugary cravings mid-day. Because this is when people are most apt to snack.
Furthermore, chia seeds are one of the highest sources of protein that originate from plants. A quality that is good for athletes or those who are looking for a post-workout supplement that will help stabilize their blood sugar levels and promote lean muscle building.
Because chia seeds have a unique ability to reverse and prevent further inflammation. They’re ideal for regulating cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Making them a heart-healthy addition to any diet.
This is because in addition to being packed with vitamins and minerals, chia seeds are also loaded with fatty acids such as omega-3. Which is commonly known to reduce blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and inflammation.
If you’re looking to build stronger bones and have a dairy allergy, chia seed can help supplement the calcium you need. In fact, as little as one ounce of chia seeds contains almost 20 percent of the daily recommendation for calcium. They also provide boron. An element that works with calcium to promote good bone mass and strong muscles.
Additionally, for those concerned with good gut health. Chia seeds are high in fiber, which has numerous benefits for the body.
Fiber is important to maintain your body’s insulin levels and keep you regular. In addition to maintaining healthy bowel regularity and balanced insulin levels. Chia seeds also act as a prebiotic while they’re in your stomach. Which helps support the growth of probiotics. A healthy microorganism vital to your body, in your gut.
Chia seeds have also been shown to help people suffering from chronic diseases. If, for example, you suffer from diabetes, chia seeds can be invaluable to your body’s system by helping prevent insulin resistance. And keeping your body’s natural insulin at a healthy level.
Some studies have shown that for those with breast cancer. Taking chia seeds actually helped limit further growth of cancer cells because of the seeds’ omega-3 content. It was also shown that while they stifled or killed cancer cells. They left healthy cells intact. Making a good case for chia seeds to be consumed as a cancer-fighting superfood.
Because of their overwhelming health benefits, chia seeds are a safe, nutritional addition to an expectant mother’s diet. Especially because most nutrients consumed go straight to the fetus to aid with its development.
Potential Side Effects
With so many numerous benefits of eating chia seeds. It may be difficult to see why more people don’t implement them into their daily diet.
After all, they’re packed with vitamins and minerals and loaded with antioxidants and good fatty acids. That can prevent disease, give you healthy skin, and aid in weight loss. However, there have been some noted side effects of taking chia seeds. That you may want to consider before you run to the store to purchase a bulk order of the popular seeds.
Because of their high fiber content, chia seeds can wreak havoc on the stomach. If you have intestinal issues such as diverticulitis, constipation, or regular diarrhea.
Regular chia seed consumption could worsen those issues. Whether it’s by causing inflammation of the diverticula along your large intestine or causing bloating, pain, and changes to your stool. Side effects can manifest in different ways. So you should watch for any sudden changes to your gastrointestinal system after adding chia seeds to your diet.
Fatty omega-3 acids can be beneficial to your heart health. But taking chia seeds could have an adverse effect on your blood system. Because of its high fatty acid content, chia seeds have been known to thin blood too much.
Preventing it from clotting and causing a drastic drop in blood pressure. If you’re on blood thinners or take medication to moderate your blood pressure. You may want to consult with a physician or nutritional expert before introducing chia seeds to your diet.
Chia seeds can be beneficial for regulating blood sugar levels. But if you suffer from hypoglycemia or take medication to regulate diabetes, you may want to think twice before ingesting them.
They can overstimulate the medication that’s meant to control your blood sugar levels and cause them to drop too low. The same goes for those with hypoglycemia, who already run a risk of low blood sugar levels. It’s always best to check with your endocrinologist before introducing new foods such as chia seed into your diet.
As with anything you ingest, chia seeds could also cause an allergic reaction once introduced into your bloodstream. If you have a seed or nut allergy. Then you may be particularly susceptible to a chia seed allergy because chia seeds are classified as plants.
As with any allergic reaction, allergies can manifest in numerous ways. Ranging from mild skin rashes and hives to the more severe. Such as coughing, difficulty swallowing, and swelling of the throat, tongue, and mouth. If you’re known to have allergies to certain foods. You may want to watch for these types of reactions whenever you eat chia seeds.
While not common, eating chia seeds have been known to cause choking. This is due to the fact that chia seeds have a high absorption rate. And expand when exposed to water or other moist environments. So, when you ingest them, they can expand in the larynx to many times their size. Creating a gelatinous lump that’s hard to swallow, which triggers choking. Before you ingest chia seeds. It’s best to pre-soak or roast them to prevent this from occurring.
While many pregnant women praise the benefits of taking chia seeds during pregnancy. Some experts caution to stay away from them while you’re pregnant.
There’s still much to be explored about the potential side effects that could occur during pregnancy. And while breastfeeding, which is why some caution against taking them during that time. Some infants may respond well to the nutrients passed to them through their mothers. But because it’s unknown exactly what potential harm it could cause. Then you may want to consult with your doctor if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and are considering eating chia seeds.
How To Eat
Remember, because of their absorbing nature, it’s best to soak or roast your chia seeds before eating them.
Chia seeds are incredibly versatile and can be added to a variety of recipes.
One of the most popular ways to incorporate them is by making pudding. When made correctly, they absorb into the pudding, making them easy to eat.
If you decide to soak your chia seeds before eating them. You’ll want to make sure you have the ratio of water to seeds is correct so they absorb properly.
To do that, you’ll want to mix them in a 1:10 mix of chia to water. Or about 1.5 tablespoons of them for every one cup of water. This provides them with the optimal amount to expand without becoming too watery. After mixing. Let them sit for up to two hours to properly absorb.
If you choose to roast your chia seeds. Then you can use them as a topping on salads or your favorite oatmeal. There’s really no wrong way to eat them as they don’t have much flavor. So you can mix them with other spices or flavorings without compromising the overall taste of your recipe.
Are Chia Seeds Right for Me?
After reading about the numerous benefits, potential side effects, and how to eat them. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to introduce them into your diet.
If you’re unsure about whether or not they are right for you. It’s best to check with a medical professional to figure out if it would be beneficial to introduce them to your diet. While you may find them to be a welcome addition to your diet. There’s always a chance of side effects to consider.
As with any diet change or supplements. It’s a combination of research, knowing your body, and personal choice to determine what will work best. Only you and your medical provider can determine. Whether or not adding chia seeds to your diet is the right choice for you.