When planting a garden for health benefits, such as the one in your backyard, it is imperative that you have the right seeds in hand to make it possible to plant, nurture, and harvest a nice assortment of vegetables for the family dinner table. Ditto for your body and an assortment of nutritional seeds. As small as they are, such seeds can be indispensable for your health; it’s just a matter of knowing which ones can do what, and then being sure to include them as part of your daily dietary regimen.
There are an assortment of healthy nutritional seeds on the market. Starting with this blog and with two more to follow, we’re going to take a look at three of them – chia seeds, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds – each of them offering proof of how good, even great, things can come in small packages. Today, we start our seeds series by looking at chia seeds.
A Powerful Nutritional Punch
The way healthline.com describes it, chia seeds are among the healthiest foods on the planet. It is not a claim made lightly; these miniscule seeds provide a potent nutritional punch, with a one-ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds providing 11 grams of fiber, four grams of protein, nine grams of fat (more than half of which are omega-3’s) and healthy doses of calcium, manganese, magnesium, and phosphorous, as well as zinc, vitamin B3, potassium, and vitamins B1 and B2.
Chia Seeds’ Health Benefits
In summarizing chia seeds’ many health benefits, it helps to know that these diminutive, edible, black seeds, which are sourced from the Salvia Hispanica plant, contain nutrients as vital to your brain as they are to your body, per 54health.com.
- Enhance heart health. Various studies referenced at healthline.com have shown that chia seeds can reduce risk factors such as triglycerides, insulin resistance, and belly fat, all of which can factor into heart health. Also, the seeds have been shown in studies to be effective in lowering blood pressure in those people with hypertension. Of course, it also helps to live a heart-healthy lifestyle (starting with not smoking) and getting sufficient exercise.
- Assist in weight loss. Chia seeds’ high quotient of protein makes it a “friendly” nutrient when it comes to stimulating weight loss. Per healthline.com, a healthy consumption of protein squelches appetite and has been shown to reduce thoughts about food by 60 percent and the desire to snack at bedtime by 50 percent. The seeds’ high amount of fiber also helps in this regard in that soluble fiber, by absorbing large amounts of water, expands in the stomach, increasing the sensation of fullness and slowing the absorption of food.
- Reduce chronic inflammation. Inflammation can be a good thing, mindful that it is your body’s natural response to infection or injury, often accompanied by red skin and swelling. However, too much inflammation over too long a period can be harmful to your body, a condition typically associated with heart disease and other serious health issues. Inflammation can also affect your brain in terms of hampered cognition. Per healthline.com, a three-month study of 20 volunteer diabetics showed that eating 37 grams of chia seeds each day decreased the inflammatory marker hs-CRP by 40 percent.
- Lower blood sugar levels. As you might know, persistently high blood sugar levels can be a precursor of a number of chronic diseases, such as heart disease. Animal studies have shown that ingestion of chia seeds can enhance insulin sensitivity and work to maintain blood sugar levels after eating meals.
- Packed with antioxidants. Because chia seeds have a strong antioxidant profile, regular consumption of them can help in guarding your body against free radicals (which can cause all kinds of health problems, even cancer) and along the way slow the aging process, per 54health.com.
- Source of key bone nutrients. Chia seeds have an abundance of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and protein – all of which factor into your bone health. This can be especially good to know for anyone who’s adverse to consuming dairy products and yet is concerned with bone health and warding off osteoporosis.
Adding Chia Seeds to Your Diet
Chia seeds themselves don’t offer much in the way of extraordinary taste, but they complement many varieties of food offerings – that is, they can be added to most anything without doing any harm to the meal presentation or scrumptiousness. They can be eaten raw or used in the form of chia seed oil. They can also be soaked in juice, sprinkled on top of cereal, yogurt, etc. and mixed in with oatmeal, pudding, and smoothies. You also might want to think about adding the seeds or oil to your baked goods such as bread, biscuits, and cakes. Get a clue: Eat up!