Chia seeds which are incredibly rich in nutrients have been known for their health benefits for centuries. High in antioxidants, Chia seeds are loaded with minerals, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which help to support heart health, strong bones, and blood sugar control.
Chia seeds are tiny black or white seeds that come from the plant Salvia hispanica L and are believed to be native to Central America. These extremely nourishing seeds were a staple item in the meals of Aztec and Mayan civilizations. Evidence also suggests that this popular food was used for medical purposes, religious rites, and even cosmetics. Even today Chia seeds are being consumed by individuals all over the world.
Chia Seeds Nutrition
Also known as a superfood, Chia seeds are backed by many health experts for their high nutritional value. In fact, 1 ounce (28 grams or 2 tablespoons) of Chia seeds has the following essential nutrients, including:
- Calories: 138
- Protein: 4.7 grams
- Fat: 8.7 grams
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): 5 grams
- Carbs: 11.9 grams
- Fiber: 9.8 grams
- Calcium: 14% of the Daily Value
- Iron: 12% of the Daily Value
- Magnesium: 23% of the Daily Value
- Phosphorus: 20% of the Daily Value
- Zinc: 12% of the Daily Value
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 15% of the Daily Value
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): 16% of the Daily Value
What’s more impressive is the fact that this nutritional profile is for only a single serving of around two teaspoons.
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Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Chia Seeds
The Glycemic index (GI) is a mathematical method to give a numerical value to food depending on how quickly it raises blood sugar levels. Under the method, foods are graded on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being pure glucose (sugar). A lower glycemic index of a meal roughly means it has more fiber and will raise sugar levels slowly in the blood after consumption. Whereas, a higher GI of a meal tells how finally processed the food is and how quickly it will spike the blood sugar.
People with diabetes should pay attention to both the glycemic index and glycemic load to avoid a sudden rise in blood sugar.
Due to their low glycemic index, Chia seeds are a good food choice for diabetic patients. Despite its high glucose content, Chia seeds have a GI of only 4, making them one of the ‘low-GI foods’. Low-GI carbohydrates are slowly digested and absorbed, allowing blood sugar levels to remain stable.
Glycemic Index of Dried Chia Seeds
Dry Chia seeds have a glycemic index of 30, indicating that they are a low GI food.
Glycemic Load of Dried Chia Seeds
Dry Chia seeds have a glycemic load of 12.6, hence they fall under the medium GL category.
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Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Loaded with several health benefits, Chia seeds are also a magic food for diabetic patients. Its high fiber content is the key reason why it is beneficial to diabetics. The soluble fibers in chia seeds are known to assist diabetic patients to lower their glycemic response. Furthermore, including chia seeds in your food can result in substantial decreases in post-meal plasma glucose and insulin levels in pre-diabetic obese participants, as per a study.
Chia Seeds are Antioxidant
Chia seeds are a good source of antioxidants and protect our body by neutralizing reactive molecules known as free radicals, which can damage cell compounds. It is to be noted that free radical damage contributes to aging and can be a reason for life-threatening illnesses such as cancer.
Antioxidants present in Chia seeds such as; Chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol have heart and liver-protective characteristics, as well as anticancer capabilities.
Chia Seeds health benefits helps to low the hypertension because of chlorogenic acid present in it, whereas caffeic acid has anti-inflammatory properties.
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Chia Seeds For Weight Loss
Chia seeds include fiber and protein, which may help those who are trying to lose some weight. One ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds has close to 10 grams of dietary fiber, which roughly translates that these tiny seeds are around 35% fiber content by weight.
Furthermore, the protein present in chia seeds may reduce hunger and keep you fulfilled for a long. Chia seeds are claimed to successfully reduce hunger and promote fullness for a total of 2.5 hours after eating, thus we can say that chia seeds benefits in weight loss.
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Lower your Risk of Heart Disease
High in fiber and omega-3, Chia seeds may reduce your risk of heart disease. Chia seeds have Soluble fiber, which helps lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood. In turn, this can reduce your risk of heart disease. Also, a study suggests that chia seeds significantly reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension, or high blood pressure, which is a strong risk factor for heart disease.
Chia Seeds Prompt Better Bone Density
Chia seeds are abundant in calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, which are all essential for bone health. Getting enough of these nutrients is recommended for maintaining adequate bone mineral density. As a result, the consumption of chia seeds will benefit your bones health if consumed regularly in the diet.
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Reduce Blood Sugar levels
Because of its rich fiber content and other beneficial elements, chia seeds are also believed to aid with blood sugar management.
High blood sugar levels can pose serious problems for diabetic patients. Notably, Constant high fasting blood sugar levels are linked to an increased risk of various health issues, including heart disease.
Chia Seeds May Improve the Lipid Profile of your Blood
These tiny little magical seeds can do wonders for Type-2 diabetic patients, as it is known to regulate high cholesterol levels. The presence of high total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides are all risk factors for the development of this condition.
Interestingly, Chia seeds are 10 grams of fiber per ounce (28 grams), which is roughly 40% of the daily recommended fiber consumption. This fiber-rich superfood can help you bring down your cholesterol and improve your heart health.
Also, Chia seeds are claimed to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is referred to as “good” cholesterol. HDL helps remove LDL- the “bad” cholesterol from your body.
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Chia Seeds May Help Prevent Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance occurs when your body quits responding to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance is a key player in developing Type-2 diabetes.
It develops when blood sugar levels remain high for an extended period of time. It also causes a group of problems like obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Chia Seeds Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a leading cause of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, heart attack, and renal failure. It is claimed that consuming Chia seed supplementation could also help reduce arterial stiffness in diabetic patients. Moreover, its daily consumption may also result in a visible decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
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Chia Seeds Recipes
Chia seeds can be a simple addition to your everyday diet and kitchen cabinet. This nutrient-rich fun food is used in a variety of recipes, including puddings, pancakes, yogurt, cereal, and smoothies.
Chia Seeds Loaded Morning Breakfast
To get the health benefit of this superfood you can also add it to your muesli with oats, cinnamon, and seasonal fruits in a mixing bowl. Now pour some milk and enjoy your ready-to-go breakfast!
Chia Seeds Pudding
This tasty, healthful, flexible, and easy-to-create meal requires only 4 ingredients and 1 bowl. To make this deliciously creamy, thick chia pudding you need
- Dairy-free milk: 1-1/2 cups
- Chia seeds: 1/2 cup)
- Maple syrup: 1-2 tablespoons
- Vanilla extract: 1 teaspoon
- Fruits: Optional
Instructions for Making Chia Seeds Pudding
- Add dairy-free milk, Chia seeds, Maple syrup (to taste), and vanilla to a mixing dish. To blend the ingredients, whisk them together.
- Refrigerate the mixture overnight, covered (or at least 6 hours). The chia pudding should have a rich, creamy texture. If not, add some more Chia seeds and toss your pudding for another hour or two.
- Garnish with some fresh fruit to serve!
Note: You can keep the pudding in the refrigerator and enjoy it for up to 5 days if covered.
As an Egg Substitute
Soak 1 tablespoon of Chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water for 30 minutes till a gel forms. Now go ahead and use this gelatinous texture for each egg in your recipe.
Add Chia Seeds to your Juice
These healthy seeds can be added to any drink, not just water. To prepare a drink packed with fiber and minerals, soak 1/4 cup of chia seeds in 4 cups of fruit juice for 30 minutes. And enjoy your healthy glass of juice with some goodness of fiber and other essential minerals.
Despite their tiny size, chia seeds are highly nutritious. They’re packed with fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and various micronutrients.
Chia Seed Smoothie
To make your smoothie even more nutritious, try adding some Chia seeds. It can be stirred-in in almost any smoothie. Just don’t forget to soak them to make a gel before adding.
Chia Seeds Protein Bars
If you are health conscious and want to cut down on your sugar intake, try some delicious and healthy protein bars with the goodness of Chia seeds.
Make Chia Seed Nutritional Bar
- Unsalted almonds: 3/4 cup
- Unsalted pistachios (shells removed): 1/4 cup
- Pitted dates: 1/4 cup
- Raisins or dried cranberries: 1/4 cup
- Protein powder (unflavored or vanilla): 1 scoop
- Chia seeds: 1 tablespoon
- Unsweetened apple sauce: 2 tablespoons
- Coconut oil: 1 tablespoon
In a food processor, grind the almonds and pistachios for around 30-40 seconds till they become like coarse sand (not too fine). Now, add some dates and raisins and run the grinder for another 30 seconds.
The fun part starts now as you need to add your favourite protein powder, Chia seeds, applesauce, and coconut oil to a mixing bowl. Grind for another 30 seconds, or until the mixture is fully blended, moist, and somewhat sticky. In case you find the mixture too dry, add about 1/2 teaspoon more coconut oil and mix again.
Place the mixture on a large tray and set it aside to set. Place a big sheet of wax or parchment paper over the mixture and spread it out to an equal thickness using a rolling pin.
Leave on the tray after cutting into bars. Now toss the tray into the fridge for at least 30 minutes. After your bars take a solid shape, pack them in plastic wrap individually. You can eat these bars for one week from the fridge or freeze them for up to two months to keep them firm and fresh.
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Side Effects of Chia Seeds
Just like any other food item, Chia seeds can also pose potential health problems if not taken in moderation. One should drink plenty of water when including Chia seeds in their diet. If they have any medical history, allergy, or undergoing some medical treatment, Chia seeds may also interfere with the medication.
Despite the fact that Chia seeds have immense health benefits they are highly nutritious, and can be a healthy dietary addition, there are a few side effects of this superfood that may cause you some trouble.
Excessive Intake of Chia Seeds May Lead to Digestive Problems
As Chia seeds are a good source of dietary fiber and contain 11 grams of fiber every 1-ounce (28-gram) serving, eating too much of it can be problematic for some. Though fiber is crucial for your health as it helps the healthy bacteria in your stomach and promotes better bowel movement, too much of it can cause abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and gas. This mostly happens when a high-fiber diet is combined with dehydration, as water is required for fiber to move through the digestive tract. The negative symptoms from high fiber intake can be countered by gradually increasing the fiber intake and drinking plenty of water to help it pass through the body – especially if they have not been presoaked.
Patients with inflammatory bowel conditions such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease are also advised to avoid chia seeds during flare-ups and watch their fiber consumption.
So, moderation is the key, and drink plenty of water when you take Chia seeds.
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Chia Seeds May Cause Allergic Reactions in Some People
Although it’s very rare, some people may suffer an allergic response after eating Chia seeds. Vomiting, diarrhea, and itching of the lips or tongue are some of the common symptoms of food allergy.
Some Medications May Interact with Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are generally safe if you have them in moderate quantities. However, if you eat too much of them while taking blood sugar or blood pressure drugs, you may want to limit your intake as too many Chia seeds may interfere with the effectiveness of certain drugs.
Can Diabetic Patients Eat Chia seeds?
Yes, diabetic patients too can enjoy the goodness of this tiny, oval superfood that comes packed with fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. As Chia seeds also have a low glycemic index, they don’t cause normal blood sugar levels to surge. It is suggested that chia seeds should be included in the diabetic diet as 1 ounce of chia seeds per day.
Chia seeds are a healthy meal choice for diabetic patients. As they are low in glycemic index, they won’t spike blood sugar. Loaded with fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, Chia seeds are good against several health problems be it cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, low bone density, etc many others.
Chia seeds are an excellent addition to a healthy and balanced diet and can be incorporated into our daily life easily through smoothies, juices, and other delicacies.
Always have it in moderation and if you experience any unpleasant effects after eating them, discontinue its consumption. Also, always consult a healthcare professional if you experience any symptoms or are on any medication.
Read More: Risk factors of Type 2 Diabetes
Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal
The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.