What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds come from the Salvia hispanica plant, a member of the mint family found in Central and South America. The seeds are incredibly versatile as an ingredient. Their ability to absorb liquids and form gels will allow them to thicken sauces, be used as an egg replacement, and be turned into a sugar-free jam.
Nutritional benefits of chia seeds
A handful of chia seeds (25g) contains approximately:
- 122 kcal/508KJ
- 4.1g protein
- 2g carbohydrates
- 8.6g fibre
- 7g fat
- 158mg calcium
- 84mg magnesium
- 93mg iron
- 15mg zinc
- 68mg manganese
What are the 5 top health benefits of chia seeds?
- May promote bone health
Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, found in chia seeds are known to have beneficial effects on bone health. Chia seeds contain approximately 158mg of calcium per 25g serving, which provides a considerable amount of calcium in comparison to milk.
- May be good for your heart and lower blood pressure
Chia seeds appear to have cardio-protective properties, which are probably due to their polyunsaturated fat content, high fibre levels, and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, both medicated and non-medicated participants found that chia seeds and chia flour lower blood pressure. However, any dietary change must be accompanied by lifestyle and exercise changes if it is to have any significant impact on heart health.
- May improve blood sugar management
Studies of the effects of chia seeds on blood sugar control in animals reported an improvement in insulin resistance. A similar clinical study investigated the effects of chia seeds baked into bread on reducing blood sugar levels in humans.
- May reduce the risk of diabetes
Having a high content of poly-unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fibre, chia seeds make them particularly suitable for stabilizing blood-sugar levels. Some studies suggest that chia seeds may benefit overweight and obese people.
- May improve digestive health
Chia seeds (25g) are high in fibre, so they make a good contribution to the daily recommended intake of 30g of fibre. Adequate fibre in the diet is essential for digestive health, as well as for maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. The consumption of fibre reduces the risk of many diseases and also reduces all-cause mortality.
Are chia seeds safe for everyone?
Generally speaking, chia seeds are well tolerated, but eating too many at once may cause abdominal discomfort, constipation and bloating. To prevent this, make sure to drink adequate amounts of water, especially if the seeds have not been presoaked. For people with inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or diverticulitis, they may need to limit their intake of high fibre foods, such as chia seeds.
Those who take medication for high blood pressure or diabetes may need to moderate their intake of chia seeds, since they may enhance the effects of these medications. Consult your GP or dietitian for guidance.
Nut and seed allergies are common, but allergy to chia seeds is rare. If you intend to make significant dietary changes, please consult your GP or registered dietitian for advice.