7 Health benefits of Chia seeds

Chia is an annual plant belonging to the Lamiaceae family. Originally from Central America, it was one of the very important plants in pre-Columbian cultures thanks to its fruit, the Chia seed. Chia seeds were nicknamed the seed of the gods for their multiple uses: food, medicine, cosmetics, and even spiritual.

Today cultivated all over the world (especially in South and Central America), the Chia seed has seen its interest multiply.

This ultra-trendy superfood has solid arguments: it is rich in omega-3, fiber, polyphenols, vitamins, proteins, micronutrients, etc. Its high nutritional value gives it numerous therapeutic benefits: cardiovascular protection, laxative, anti-inflammatory, anti-acne, appetite suppressant, etc.

Chia seeds seem to be the ideal supplement against the pathologies of civilization: diabetes, cholesterol, excess weight, diverticula and many others.

benefits of Chia seeds

In addition to their nutritional benefits, Chia seeds have real culinary interest: they have a neutral taste and a strong swelling power when in contact with water. Thus, they thicken and give creaminess to all culinary preparations.

Latin name: Salvia hispanica L.

Botanical family: Lamiaceae.

Part used: Seeds.

Benefits of Chia seeds

1. To promote weight loss

Chia seeds have several benefits that promote weight loss. First of all, they have an appetite-suppressant action due to their richness in soluble fiber. 35 g of fiber in 100 g of Chia seeds .

In these 35 g, more than 20 g would be represented by soluble fiber. It is the latter that regulates the appetite because, in contact with a liquid, the soluble fibers form a viscous gel. This viscous gel is calorie-free (we are unable to break down fiber) and yet it expands in the stomach, which promotes satiety.

Furthermore, due to their richness in fiber, Chia seeds reduce the absorption of lipids and carbohydrates (therefore the glycemic index), which reduces the energy impact of meals. Concerning the glycemic index, this notion is essential to control lipid and carbohydrate storage but also to limit the desire to snack between meals.

Indeed, chia seeds are low in carbohydrates and rich in lipids and fiber, which tends to reduce the glycemic index of a meal. This limits the increase in blood sugar after the meal and does not lead to hypersecretion of insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that reduces blood sugar by stimulating the storage of carbohydrates such as glycogen and triglycerides.

Please note, however, that no food alone can help you lose weight! Chia seeds give a boost. All eating habits must be reviewed.

How do I use it?

As a nutritional treatment, mix 20 g of chia seeds in a glass of water the day before consumption. Consume the glass of chia water before the meal. Start with 5 g and gradually increase.

Daily: sprinkle chia seeds into your culinary preparations at a rate of one tablespoon per day.

2. To prevent cardiovascular diseases

The nutritional matrix of Chia seeds is ideal for preventing cardiovascular pathologies. Indeed, they are rich in fiber (36 g per 100 g).

Fiber reduces the absorption of all nutrients, including lipids. The “anti-nutrient” nature of fibers is due to their large sizes and their indigestible characteristics. Thus, they reduce the bioavailability of digestive enzymes to nutrients.

Of course, cholesterol and lipids are essential for life. It is absolutely not necessary to deprive yourself of these nutrients to prevent cardiovascular diseases; it is the chronic excesses that constitute a health risk.

The benefits of chia seeds do not stop there since they are also rich in lipids, particularly omega-3 (α-linolenic acid) and omega-6 (linoleic acid).

These polyunsaturated fatty acids are known to modulate cholesterol levels: omega-6s reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), and omega-3s increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).

Ultimately, Chia seeds are allies of cardiovascular health by lowering the absorption of lipids (including cholesterol), lowering “bad” cholesterol and increasing “protective” cholesterol.

Note also the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of chia seeds, which help limit the degeneration of atherosclerotic plaques (precursors of cardiovascular pathologies).

Be careful; once again, chia seeds are not miraculous. The lifestyle must be as healthy as possible to hope to notice changes, especially in the case of lipidemia disorders, which have multiple origins.

Advice from the dietician-nutritionist:

  • Consume 10 to 30 g of ground Chia seeds per day. Start with 5g, then gradually increase every two days.
  • Favor chia puddings (liquid + chia seeds) before meals to optimize the cholesterol-lowering effect of chia seeds.

3. In case of fatigue

Like all oilseeds, Chia seeds are rich in lipids. Lipids are the most energetic macronutrients since one gram consumed provides nine kilocalories. These are the nutrients with the highest energy density.

Alongside lipids, we find many nutrients for energy metabolism, such as manganese, vitamin B9, vitamin B3, or even copper. We are talking about coenzymes, which are essential for the functioning of enzymes to produce energy for the organism.

Advice from the dietician-nutritionist:

Sprinkle 20 g of ground Chia seeds into your daily preparations.

Prefer Chia seeds at breakfast, or before physical or intellectual effort, by integrating them into a liquid or an energy bar.

4. To take care of your hair

As a nutritional treatment , Chia seeds are beneficial to hair health . Rich in zinc and vitamin B3, they contribute to hair growth.

Also, according to a scientific study, it seems that polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants increase hair density. Chia seeds are rich in PUFA and antioxidants (polyphenols, copper, manganese, and zinc).

Furthermore, Chia seeds could be used to limit the appearance of white hair. Indeed, they are rich in copper (0.92 mg per 100 g). The latter participates in the production of melanin (hair pigment).

Finally, due to their richness in zinc, Chia seeds can claim to help prevent male alopecia. An in vitro study observes that zinc slows down the miniaturization of hair follicles. The miniaturization of hair follicles is the stage before hair loss. It is characterized by very fine and less dense hair.

In cosmetic applications, chia gel is useful for disciplining the hair; it restores bounce to curls without the cardboard effect and frizz. The specific texture of Chia gel is provided by the soluble fibers; on contact with water, they solubilize and form a gelatinous mesh.

How do I use it?

Nutritional cure: consume 20 g of ground Chia seeds per day.

Cosmetic use: after making your Chia gel (25 g of Chia seeds infused in 300 mL of fresh water), apply the gel to damp hair, then rinse.

5. For its anti-inflammatory effect

Chia seeds have anti-inflammatory power through their supply of α-linolenic acid. In fact, a portion of chia seeds (20 g) provides 3.56 g of α-linolenic acid, or more than 140% of the daily requirement for α-linolenic acid (estimated at 2 to 3 g for daily requirements). α-linolenic acid is an omega-3 (PUFA), which gives rise to metabolites capable of resorbing inflammatory mediators, such as resolvins, defensins or protectins.

Also, Chia seeds are an interesting source of vitamin B9. The latter is involved in the conversion of homocysteine ​​(a pro-inflammatory amino acid) into methionine. The action of vitamin B9 is much more discreet than omega-3, but still notable.

Advice from the dietitian nutritionist:

  • Sprinkle 20 g of ground and raw Chia seeds over your culinary preparations.
  • Chia seeds are devoid of EPA and DHA (other omega-3s, also anti-inflammatory), it is necessary to cover their intake through food (oily fish, seafood, etc.)

6. To improve intestinal transit

Chia seeds are one of the foods richest in insoluble fiber. In contact with water, Chia seeds swell. This swelling within the digestive tract increases the mass of stools, which facilitates intestinal transit .

Advice from the dietitian nutritionist:

  • Consume 20 g of Chia seeds per day in a glass of cold water, preferably on an empty stomach.

7. To fight against oxidative stress

Chia seeds inhibit free radicals by providing antioxidant phenolic compounds, such as caffeic acid, rosmarinic acid, myricetin, quercetin, kaempferol, daidzein, cinnamic acid, and chlorogenic acid.

Also, we find a good cocktail of antioxidant trace elements: copper, manganese and zinc; without forgetting the significant presence of vitamin E.

A study estimates its ORAC score (score indicating the antioxidant potential of foods) to be slightly lower than 1000 µmol TE/100 g, which corresponds to a high antioxidant capacity.

Advice from the dietician-nutritionist:

  • Consume 20g of ground Chia seeds per day, starting with 5g.
  • Prefer lightly crushed Chia seeds to make nutrients easier to access. Grinding allows you to get rid of the indigestible shell of Chia seeds.

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