Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) have become one of the most popular superfoods in the health community. Hailing from a species of flowering plant in the mint family, they are native to areas of Mexico and Guatemala but are commonly cultivated in many areas in North and South America.
These tasty seeds are easy to digest when prepared properly and can be a very versatile ingredient that works well in a variety of recipes. Plus, they offer a long list of important nutrients, including fiber, protein, manganese and calcium, along with plenty of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
Not only that, but recent research has found that the chia seeds benefits are even greater than scientists initially realized. Chia seeds benefits include promoting healthy skin, reducing signs of aging, supporting the heart and digestive system, building stronger bones, and more
Benefits of Chia Seeds
Omega 3 fatty acids – Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, meaning that you need to get from food sources because your body cannot produce them itself. Omega 3’s reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. They’re also said to help with weight reduction related to their regulation of blood sugar levels and insulin.Plant-based protein – We all know protein is an essential macronutrient needed for many functions in the body, including muscle building.Antioxidants – Anti-oxidants help rid our body of free radicals, which have been linked to cancer and heart disease.Fiber – Helps with weight loss by keeping you feeling full, prevents constipation and enhances regularity.Magnesium and Potassium – Two minerals needed for good health.
1. Support Healthy Skin
Chia seeds are jam-packed with antioxidants, accounting for the powerful benefits of chia seeds for skin health. Antioxidants are compounds that fight free radical damage and prevent oxidative stress while also promoting tissue repair and protecting against skin damage.
Interestingly enough, researchers from Mexico recently uncovered that they have a total antioxidant concentration nearly two times higher than previously reported. In fact, the antioxidant activity of chia seeds was shown to stop up to 70 percent of free radical activity.
As one of the most high-antioxidant foods on the planet, adding chia seeds to your diet may help fight premature aging and protect the skin cells against free radical damage to optimize the health of your skin.
2. Promote Digestive Health
Chia is loaded with fiber, squeezing nearly 11 grams of fiber into a single ounce. This means that adding just one ounce of chia seeds into your daily diet can supply a whopping 44 percent of your fiber needs for the entire day.
Because of their rich fiber content, chia seeds benefit digestive health by promoting regularity and increasing stool frequency to prevent constipation. The fiber also acts as a prebiotic to provide fuel for the beneficial bacteria in the gut, which plays a central role in many aspects of health and disease.
Plus, the fiber in chia seeds also absorbs a good amount of water and expands in the stomach, helping to keep you feeling fuller for longer. This may explain why clinical studies show that using chia seeds for weight loss could be effective by curbing hunger and suppressing appetite.
3. Improve Heart Health
Thanks to their high content of antioxidants, fiber and heart-healthy fats, chia seeds pack a major punch when it comes to cardiovascular health. In fact, one of the most powerful chia seeds health benefits is their ability to reduce inflammation and decrease several risk factors of heart disease. Inflammation can put extra strain on blood vessels and is thought to contribute to heart disease along with a slew of other chronic conditions.
Chia seeds are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids, boasting even more omega-3s per gram than salmon. Omega-3s work to protect the heart by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol levels and inflammation. Meanwhile, the fiber found in chia seeds can help manage cholesterol levels and keep the arteries clear to minimize the risk of coronary heart disease.
4. Balance Blood Sugar
Rich in both alpha-linolenic acid and fiber, evidence from several studies suggests that chia seeds can help maintain normal blood sugar levels to fight diabetes and insulin resistance. One animal model in the British Journal of Nutrition even found that adding them to a high-sugar diet prevented changes in blood sugar and lipid levels. What’s more, human studies have also found that adding chia seeds to white bread reduces the glycemic response to prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels.
5. Boost Energy and Exercise Performance
Chia seeds are often used by athletes for carb loading, a strategy that helps maximize the storage of glycogen in the muscles and liver to optimize endurance and boost exercise performance. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning concluded that consuming chia seeds enhanced exercise performance for workouts that lasted 90 minutes the same way a sugar-laden sports drink would but without all the unhealthy sugar. In the study, half of the athletes drank 100 percent Gatorade, while the others consumed half Gatorade and half chia seed drink. In the end, the runners’ times were matched, but the half-chia group consumed far less sugar.
Plus, the protein in chia seeds can help build muscle mass and increase strength to help fuel your workouts. Research shows that consuming protein as a post-workout meal can aid in the repair of muscle tissues and can also build new muscle to speed up recovery time between workouts.
6. Build Stronger Bones
One of the biggest chia seed health benefits is the ability to strengthen bone health and preserve bone density while reducing the risk of serious conditions like osteoporosis. This is because chia seeds are loaded with calcium and manganese, two minerals that are incredibly important for maintaining bone health.
With about 99 percent of the calcium in your body stored in your bones, calcium serves an important role in maintaining bone strength and density. Manganese is also involved in bone metabolism, with studies showing that a deficiency in this key nutrient can impair bone resorption and decrease bone formation. Impressively enough, a single ounce of chia seeds contains 18 percent of the calcium you need in a day while also meeting 30 percent of your daily manganese requirements to help build stronger bones.
7. Aid in Weight Loss
Adding chia seeds to your diet is an excellent way to enhance weight loss and help shed stubborn pounds. Chia seeds also rank among the top plant-based protein foods, which is why chia seeds protein is great to consume for those trying to put on lean muscle, burn fat, and manage hunger and appetite.
Studies show that increasing your intake of protein can promote weight loss by curbing cravings and cutting caloric intake. One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, for example, showed that increasing protein intake by just 15 percent of daily calories led to significant decreases in energy intake and appetite. Other research shows that following a high-protein diet rich in foods like chia seeds could reduce levels of ghrelin, the hormone responsible for stimulating hunger.
8. Fight Cancer Growth
Chia seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in many plant foods. In 2013, an in-vitro study published in the Journal of Molecular Biochemistry found that ALA helped limit the growth of both breast and cervical cancer cells. Researchers also found that it caused cell death of the cancer cells without harming the normal healthy cells in the body. While more research still needs to be done to find out the deeper implications of ALA on other types of cancer, this is a great discovery for women struggling with these increasingly common types of cancer. This discovery also makes chia seeds potential cancer-fighting foods.
9. Enhance Oral Health
Because chia seeds are packed with calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A and zinc, it’s no wonder that promoting oral health makes the list as a top benefit of chia seeds. Calcium is the building block of your teeth that is necessary for maintaining oral health. Meanwhile, zinc prevents tartar by keeping plaque from mineralizing onto your teeth and has an antibacterial effect that keeps bad breath germs away. Vitamin A and phosphorus are also important for strong teeth and a healthy mouth, both of which are plentiful in chia seeds.
3–4 Tablespoons chia seeds1 cup milk (I like unsweetened coconut, almond or cashew milk)
1/2 Tablespoon maple syrup, honey or sweetener of choice*1/4 teaspoon vanilla (optional) Toppings of choice: fresh berries or other fruit, granola, nut butter, etc
In a bowl or mason jar, stir together chia seeds, milk, maple syrup and vanilla, if using. If you’re using a mason jar, you can put the lid on and shake the mixture to combine everything.Once the chia pudding mixture is well combined, let it sit for 5 minutes, give it another stir/shake to break up any clumps of chia seeds, cover and put the mixture in the fridge to “set” for 1-2 hours or overnight. The chia pudding should be nice and thick, not liquidy. If it’s not thick enough, just add more chia seeds (about 1 Tablespoon), stir and refrigerate for another 30 minutes or so.
You can also prep you pudding the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight if that’s easier. When ready to serve top the pudding with berries and enjoy.Chia pudding can be stored for up to 5-7 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Chia seed pudding is a nutritious and delicious treat that's easy to prepare. It's a versatile dish that can be customized with various toppings and flavors. Here's a basic recipe for chia seed pudding:
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 cup milk (dairy, almond, soy, coconut, etc.)
1-2 tablespoons sweetener (honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, or sweetener of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Pinch of salt
Fresh berries (e.g., strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
Chopped nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts)
Nut butter (e.g., almond butter, peanut butter)
Dried fruit (e.g., raisins, cranberries)
Mix Ingredients: In a mixing bowl, combine the chia seeds, milk, sweetener, vanilla extract (if using), and a pinch of salt. Stir well to ensure that the chia seeds are evenly distributed in the mixture.
Sweeten to Taste: Taste the mixture and adjust the sweetness if needed. You can add more sweetener if you prefer a sweeter pudding.
Cover and Refrigerate: Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap or transfer the mixture to an airtight container. Place it in the refrigerator.
Stir and Wait: After the first 30 minutes, give the chia seed mixture another good stir to prevent clumping. Then, let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours or overnight. During this time, the chia seeds will absorb the liquid and create a pudding-like consistency.
Serve: Once the chia seed pudding has thickened to your liking, remove it from the refrigerator. Give it a final stir to ensure a smooth texture.
Add Toppings: Serve the pudding in individual bowls or jars and add your favorite toppings. Fresh fruit, nuts, and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup make excellent choices.
Enjoy: Dig in and savor your homemade chia seed pudding. It's a nutritious and satisfying treat!
Chia seed pudding can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days, making it a convenient make-ahead breakfast or snack option. Feel free to get creative with flavors by adding cocoa powder, matcha powder, or spices like cinnamon and cardamom to the mixture before refrigerating.
Mornings can be chaoitic and a lot of people choose to skip on breakfast becasue they simply end up rushing to get out of the door and do not have the time to make a healthy breakfast. TI hope that this simple recipe will be a potential staple breakfast go-to for you and it's easy preparation in aid in adding it to your morming routine or as a simple and delicious snack throughout your day.
What do you ike to add to your chia seed pudding? Do you let yours set overnight or just for a few minutes prior to eating it? Let me know in the comments!
Cha Cha Cha Chia