They say good things come in small packages — and when it comes to chia seeds, we’d have to say we agree. With essential fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber and protein to boot, the health benefits of chia seeds are impressive… especially when you consider how tiny they are!
Plus, chia seeds are more than just a nutritional powerhouse. These dainty seeds are one of the most versatile ingredients you can find. From smoothies to salads and shakes to bakes, there are so many easy ways to incorporate chia into your routine.
Chia seeds also happen to be one of Purition’s core ingredients — we’re proud to be the first UK-based wellness and nutrition company to use chia seeds grown in Britain. We’re passionate about the power of these super-seeds and are certain that by the end of this guide, you will be too!
With that said, here’s everything you need to know to start reaping the benefits of chia…
What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are smooth, shiny, grey-black seeds measuring around 2mm. Yep, they’re tiny.
Native to Central and Southern America, chia seeds go by the botanical name of Salvia hispanica and come from the Lamiaceae (mint) family.
The health benefits of chia seeds were known 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. Rumor has it that Aztec warriors swore by a spoon of chia seeds a day to boost their energy!
What are the health benefits of chia seeds?
You’ve probably seen chia seeds blasted in the headlines of your favorite health and lifestyle magazines, but do they deserve their superfood reputation? As it turns out, it’s a resounding yes!
So, before we delve into the top health benefits of chia seeds, take a quick look at their impressive nutritional profile…
Chia seeds are highly nutritious
Two heaped tablespoons (around 28g) of chia seeds contains approximately 137 calories, 8.6g fat (of which 0.9g is saturated), 10.6g dietary fiber and 4.4g protein. But what really makes chia seeds shine is their micronutrient profile, which includes:
Manganese: 0.6mg (30% RDA)
Phosphorus: 265mg (27% RDA)
Calcium: 177mg (18% RDA)
Potassium: 44.8mg (1% RDA)
Zinc: 1mg (7% RDA)
Omega-3 fatty acids: 4915mg
Omega-6 fatty acids: 1620mg
Simply put, calorie-for-calorie, chia seeds gives you amazing bang for your buck!
Chia seeds are high in essential fatty acids
Chia seeds are impressively high in polyunsaturated fatty acids — particularly alpha-linolenic acid, which belongs to the omega-3 group.
Healthy fats, including essential fatty acids, are an important source of energy and are required for numerous essential bodily functions and processes. ALA ( alpha-linolenic acid) in particular has been shown to…
✓ Reduce inflammation, which can reduce the risk of chronic disease.
✓ Reduce the risk of heart disease, because it decreases oxidative stress.
✓ Stabilize blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance, which is highly beneficial to those with diabetes.
Omega-3s are referred to as an ‘essential’ fatty acids, simply because they are exactly that — essential. Your body can’t make them on its own, meaning you must consume them through food.
The good news? Chia seeds make it easy! A couple of teaspoons of chia seeds per day would allow you to comfortably meet your daily essential ALA requirements.
Purition is another great source of plant-based omega-3s (ALA). On average, Purition contains 1.85g per serving, which instantly hits the recommended dietary allowance for omega-3s.
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Chia seeds are packed with protein
Chia seeds are around 18–24% protein by mass, which is much higher than the majority of plants.
A high-protein diet brings numerous health benefits, including greater muscle mass (strength) and stronger bones. Protein also reduces the level of the hunger hormone (ghrelin), increases metabolism and is very filling. As a result, consuming plenty of protein can help you to lose weight.
Read more about the benefits of protein in our high-protein diet guide.
Chia seeds are a great store-cupboard essential for anyone looking to go vegan. Unlike many plant-based proteins, they contain all nine of the essential amino acids (amino acids that your body cannot produce and therefore must gain from food). This makes them a complete vegan protein source.
If that’s not enough to impress you, you might be surprised to hear that chia seeds contain more protein per gram than a boiled egg.
Chia seeds are a rich source of fiber
Chia seeds contain approximately 85–93% insoluble fiber (IDF) and 7–15% of soluble dietary fiber (SDF) (source). Both are essential for good health, but let’s take a quick look at how each type of fiber will benefit you specifically…
✓ Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and helps to move digestion along, preventing constipation and other bowel-related issues.
✓ Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a thick gel substance in the stomach. It slows down digestion which, in turn, helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, keep the gut healthy and reduce appetite.
A high-fiber diet has been closely linked to a lower risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer — particularly bowel and colon.
But research shows that most people in the US don’t get enough fiber. The RDA is 30g, but the average intake falls at a mere 15g. Does that sound like you? Chia seeds (and Purition!) make for a convenient way to boost your daily intake.
Chia seeds may help with weight loss
Many nutrition experts believe that chia seeds can help with weight loss. This is partly due to their high protein, fiber and healthy fat content, despite being fairly low in calories. Foods that are high in these three key nutrients are typically very filling and can, therefore, reduce cravings and unnecessary snacking.
But most of chia’s supposed weight-loss power comes from the fact that they absorb up to 10 times their weight in water. This helps to fill up the stomach and slow down the rate of digestion, leading to an even bigger boost in satiety. On the other hand, some studies conclude that chia seeds do not impact (positively or negatively) weight loss efforts.
So, what’s the Purition take? Loading up on chia seeds, but ignoring your wider diet, is unlikely to lead to weight loss. However, incorporating them into a healthy, balanced diet made up of nutrient-dense wholefoods might. If you are looking to lose weight or simply make healthier choices, Purition can help. All of our flavors contain chia seeds and are designed to satisfy your appetite for at least 4 hours.
How to eat chia seeds
Now that know the health benefits of chia seeds, it’s time to get cooking — or sprinkling! Chia seeds pack a lot into a small package, so get creative with chia and incorporate them into your daily meals.
Here are some of our favorites ways to eat chia seeds:
✓ Sprinkle chia seeds on salads: Whatever salad you rustle up for lunch or dinner, finish it off with a teaspoon sprinkle of chia seeds. Extra nutrition and extra crunch, minimal effort!
✓ Add chia seeds to smoothies: We love smoothies as they’re so versatile — and chia seeds make a great addition. Want to try out one of our favorites? Blend 40g of Purition (we use Mac & Vanilla, but any flavor works great) with 1 cup of milk, a handful of fresh spinach, half an avocado, two teaspoons of chia seeds and a handful of ice. It’s so healthy and refreshing — thank us later!
✓ Make chia seed pudding: All you need is chia seeds, milk and some maple syrup and you’ve got yourself a healthy yet indulgent pudding! You can top it with chopped fruit, nuts, dark chocolate or whatever else you fancy.
✓ Add chia seeds to yogurt: Sprinkle a teaspoon or two of chia seeds over greek yogurt or dairy-free yogurt alternative. For even more flavor and goodness, stir in 40g of your favorite Purition flavor!
✓ Use them as an egg substitute: Can’t eat eggs? Vegan? Chia seeds make an easy and affordable egg substitute! Soak a tablespoon (around 15g) of chia seeds in 2.5 tablespoons (around 45 ml) of water and leave to thicken for at least 5 minutes. It should turn into a thick gel, which can then be used to replace eggs while baking.
✓ Add chia seeds to cakes and bakes: Love baking? Chia seeds work great in home-made cakes, bars and bakes and add a fantastic nutritional boost! Just add a tablespoon to your mixture and bake as you normally would.
Enjoy chia seeds in Purition
Perhaps the easiest ways to reap the health benefits of chia seeds into your diet is to enjoy a daily glass of Purition. They’re one of our 7 core ingredients — and we’re also the first UK-based nutrition company to use chia seeds grown in Britain. We would go to all that effort for nothing, so it’s fair to say we’re a big fan of these super seeds!
Purition is an easy breakfast or lunch when you’re short on time or simply need healthy, hassle-free food. Every flavor is made with natural, real food ingredients with absolutely nothing artificial — no emulsifiers, additives, gums or preservatives.
High in fiber, protein and healthy fats but low in starch and sugar, we’re certain that Purition can take you closer to reaching your health, fitness or weight-loss goals. Naturally gluten-free and available in both Original and Dairy-Free Vegan.