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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam

Chia Seeds - Health Benefits


Chia seeds are tiny seeds that come from a plant native to Central and South America. They have been used for a long time by ancient cultures for their health and wellness benefits. Nowadays, chia seeds are popular as a superfood, as they have a lot of fiber, protein, omega-3 fats, antioxidants, and minerals. In this article, we will look at some of the health benefits of chia seeds and how to eat them.


Fiber and Digestive Health

One of the main features of chia seeds is their high amount of fiber. Just a small handful of chia seeds has about 40% of the fiber you need in a day. Fiber is important for your digestive system, as it helps you poop regularly, lowers your cholesterol, and keeps your blood sugar stable. Fiber also feeds the good bacteria in your gut, which may make you healthier and happier.


Chia seeds have a special type of fiber called soluble fiber, which absorbs water and forms a gel. This can help you feel full for a long time, lower your hunger, and help you lose weight. Soluble fiber also helps protect your heart and prevent diabetes by improving your blood pressure and insulin sensitivity.


Protein and Muscle Health

Chia seeds are also a great source of plant-based protein, giving you about 5 grams of protein in a small handful. Protein is essential for your body, as it helps you build and maintain your muscles, as well as support many other functions, such as making hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. Chia seeds have all the essential amino acids, which are the parts of protein that your body cannot make by itself. This means that chia seeds are a complete protein source, which is rare among plant foods.

Protein can also help you lose weight, as it boosts your metabolism, burns more calories, and reduces your appetite. Studies have shown that eating chia seeds can increase the levels of hormones that tell your brain that you are full. Additionally, protein can help you keep your muscle mass and strength as you get older, which may prevent muscle loss and bone weakness.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Brain Health

Chia seeds are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your brain and eyes. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory and brain-protecting effects, which may help prevent or treat various brain disorders, such as depression, anxiety, memory loss, and dementia. Omega-3 fatty acids also play a role in maintaining the structure and function of the cell membranes, which are important for communication and signaling between brain cells.


Chia seeds mainly have a type of omega-3 fatty acid called ALA, which needs to be changed into EPA and DHA in your body. EPA and DHA are the most active and beneficial forms of omega-3 fatty acids, especially for your brain. However, the rate of changing ALA to EPA and DHA is very low, ranging from 0.2% to 21%. Therefore, it is good to also eat foods that have EPA and DHA directly, such as fish, algae, and fish oil supplements.


Antioxidants and Cellular Health

Chia seeds are also full of antioxidants, which are substances that protect your cells from stress and damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are made by normal processes in your body, as well as exposure to things like pollution, smoke, and radiation. Stress and damage from free radicals can lead to inflammation, aging, and diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

The antioxidants in chia seeds include different types of acids and flavonoids. These antioxidants have various health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and stopping the growth of cancer cells. Antioxidants also protect the omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds from going bad, which may make them last longer and work better.


Minerals and Bone Health

Chia seeds are also rich in minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. These minerals are important for your bone health, as they help make and keep your bones strong, dense, and healthy. Calcium is the main mineral in your bones, and chia seeds have about 18% of the calcium you need in a day in a small handful. Magnesium and phosphorus are also essential for your bone formation and metabolism, and chia seeds have about 30% and 27% of the magnesium and phosphorus you need in a day in a small handful, respectively. Zinc is involved in your bone healing and remodeling, and chia seeds have about 15% of the zinc you need in a day in a small handful.


Chia seeds may be especially good for people who do not eat enough dairy products, which are the main source of calcium in most diets. Studies have shown that chia seeds can increase the levels of calcium and other bone markers in women after menopause. However, more research is needed to see the long-term effects of chia seeds on your bone health and fracture risk.


How to Eat Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are very easy and versatile to eat. You can eat them raw, soaked, sprouted, or ground. You can also add them to smoothies, salads, soups, yogurt, oatmeal, baked goods, and more. Chia seeds have a mild, nutty taste that goes well with both sweet and savory dishes. You can also make chia pudding by mixing chia seeds with milk, water, or juice, and letting it sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Chia pudding is a yummy and healthy breakfast or snack that you can customize with your favorite toppings, such as fruits, nuts, seeds, and spices.


The suggested amount of chia seeds to eat in a day is about 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 grams), which can give you 10 to 20 grams of fiber, 5 to 10 grams of protein, and 5 to 10 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. However, you can change the amount according to your personal preference and nutritional needs. Chia seeds are generally safe and well-liked, but some people may have stomach problems, such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea, especially if they eat too much at once or do not drink enough water. Therefore, it is good to start with a small amount and increase slowly, as well as drink a lot of fluids to help the seeds move through your digestive system.


Summary

Chia seeds are a healthy and tasty addition to your diet. They have a lot of fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and minerals, which may benefit your digestive, muscle, brain, cellular, and bone health. Chia seeds are also easy to use and can be eaten in many ways. Try adding chia seeds to your meals and snacks, and enjoy their health benefits and flavor.


Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)

Internal Medicine Specialist


Kify Hospital

Danavaipeta

Rajahmundry

Phone : 85000 23456

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