Chia seeds 101: Benefits & how to eat more of them
They say good things come in small packages; and when it comes to chia seeds, we’d have to say we agree.
With more iron than spinach, more α-linolenic acid (ALA) than flaxseed and more antioxidants than blueberries, the health benefits of chia mean they really do live up to their superfood status!
Here's everything you need to know about chia seeds – their health benefits, history, nutrition and how to get more of them in your day to day diet.
Chia seeds 101
Chia seeds are tiny, smooth and shiny grey-black seeds. Native to Central and Southern America, they go by the botanical name of Salvia hispanica L and come from the Lamiaceae (mint) family.
Chia seeds were used long before they gained modern-day superfood status. It’s believed that they were one of the four basic foods of Central American civilizations, who often used them for medicinal purposes, too.
The word ‘chia’ actually means ‘strength’ in Mayan (the language family of Central America and Mexico). This owes to the fact that Mayan and Aztec cultures prized chia seeds for their ability to provide strength and stamina.
Chia seeds nutrition
Two heaped tablespoons (around 28g) of chia seeds contains approximately 137 calories, 8.6g fat (of which only 0.9g is saturated), 10g dietary fibre, 4.6g protein and only 2.2g net carbs.
But what really makes chia seeds shine is the micronutrient profile. Just two tablespoons provide 48% of the nutrient reference value (NRV) of phosphorus, over 30% of magnesium and copper, over 20% of thiamine and selenium and over 10% of zinc and iron.
Chia seeds are also very high in calcium – a much higher concentration than found in milk! Two tablespoons of chia provide 177mg calcium, which is 22% of the daily calcium NRV.
That’s a lot of goodness – and major health benefits – in such a tiny seed!
NRV = Nutrient Reference Value (EU guidance on the daily amount of a vitamin or mineral that the average healthy person needs to prevent deficiency)
Chia seeds health benefits
5 reasons to be chia-ful…
1. Improves cholesterol & heart health
Chia seeds are particularly high in alpha-linolenic acid, which studies show can raise ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
The European Food Standards Agency claims that 2g of plant omega-3 ALA daily can contribute to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels.
Thanks to these super seeds, Purition contains an average of 1.85g of alpha-linolenic acid per serving. That means one serving of Purition per day provides over 90% of your daily ALA requirement according to the EFSA.
2. Reduces inflammation
Chronic inflammation can increase your risk of numerous diseases, but chia seeds are prized for their anti-inflammatory superpowers. Firstly, they’re high in caffeic acid, a potent antioxidant that can help to fight inflammation throughout the body.
Secondly, they’re brimming with alpha-linolenic acid; an omega-3 fatty acid that has been shown to lower several markers of inflammation in a meta-analysis and systematic review of multiple trials.
Lastly, chia seeds have a high concentration of anti-inflammatory phytonutrient compounds that can help protect our cells from oxidative damage and reduce the risk of disease. These anti-inflammatory compounds are mainly in the form of flavonoids and phenolic acids.
3. Supports digestion & gut health
Fibre can help to keep your digestive system running smoothly, whilst keeping your gut health in check by feeding the friendly bacteria in your gut microbiome.
Chia seeds are 40% fibre by weight, which makes them one of the best sources of fibre in the world. Two heaped tablespoons contain around 10g of dietary fibre, which provides around 33% of your recommended daily intake.
The DRV (dietary reference value) of fibre in the UK is 30g, but the average intake falls at a mere 18g. If you think you might be falling short, Purition also makes for a convenient way to get more of the good stuff, with around 7g fibre per serving.
4. Encourages healthy weight loss
Chia seeds are around 18–24% protein by weight, which is much higher than the majority of plants. A high-protein intake reduces the level of the hunger hormone (ghrelin) and is the most filling macronutrient.
They’re also super high in fibre. Fibre takes longer to digest than simple carbs and sugars, which means you’ll feel fuller for longer by eating more of it. Soluble fibre also absorbs large amounts of water and expands in your stomach, which can help to increase fullness and slow the absorption of food.
That’s why including chia seeds within a healthy diet may help you to control your appetite and drive or maintain a healthy weight. Even better, chia-packed Purition is a convenient way to get more of both of these craving-crushing nutrients, with around 7g fibre and 16g protein per meal.
5. Reduces disease risk
Antioxidants protect the body from unstable molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells and cause oxidative stress, which can lead to many diseases.
Chia seeds contain an impressive 8.8% antioxidants by weight, including chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin and kaempferol.
Antioxidants can help to slow and prevent damage to your cells from free radicals and, in turn, help to reduce your risk of illness and chronic disease.
How to eat more chia seeds
Chia seeds pack a lot of nutrition into a small package, so it’s time to get cooking, baking or sprinkling. Here are a few of our favourite ways to eat chia seeds.
- Sprinkle on salads
- Add to smoothies
- Use to thicken up sauces and stews
- Mix into cooked porridge
- Use as an egg alternative
- Stir into yoghurt
- Use as a crumb for meat or fish
- Add to cakes and bakes
Chia seed pudding recipe
Simply whisk together 150ml milk, 30g chia seeds, half a teaspoon vanilla extract and a dash of maple syrup. Add to a bowl or jar, cover and pop in the fridge for a few hours.
Optional: When you’re ready to dig in, add a tablespoon of your favourite Purition flavour for some extra crunch and added nutrients.
Enjoy chia seeds in Purition
One of the easiest ways to get more chia seeds into your routine? Just enjoy a daily glass (or bowl) of Purition.
Back in September 2018, Purition co-founder Edward saw that chia seeds were being grown in the UK for the first time whilst watching Countryfile. We quickly became the first UK nutrition company to use chia seeds grown in the UK within our products!
For you, that means fresh-as-can-be seeds. You can be certain that the chia seeds in your shake are from this year’s harvest. For us, it means fewer food miles and a great opportunity to support local food producers.
Nothing beats real food and the natural nutrition it contains when it comes to reaching your healthy eating goals. We receive a delivery of fresh seeds and nuts (including chia seeds) daily, which we grind, chop, mix and pack ourselves here at Purition HQ.
The result? A real food meal, ready in an instant. It’s packed with nutritious ingredients like chia seeds to nourish your body, support a healthy gut and help you to feel fuller for longer. Our natural blend is also slow-digesting to provide a steady release of energy, which means you can wave goodbye to those irritating mid-morning and afternoon energy crashes.
Purition makes healthy eating easy, so that you can reach your health and fitness goals and feel like your very best self, every single day.
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