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Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

By Paul Rothbart

The expression "good things come in small packages" is a common one that can be applied to many things. It can even be applied to some foods. One of the best examples of this is the tiny chia seed. This Central American seed was important in Mayan and Aztec culture as food, medicine, and religious ceremonies. They can be added to many dishes and some people even use them to make a pudding. The humble chia seed has many health benefits.

Nutrition

An ounce of chia seeds contains 138 calories but plenty of nutrition including 4.7 grams of protein and 8.7 grams of fiber. It also has 23 percent of the recommended daily allowance of magnesium and 20 percent of the allowance of phosphorus. Chia seeds contain significant amounts of zinc, calcium, and Vitamins B1 and B3. That's packing quite a wallop of nutrition.

Lower Risk of Heart Disease

With their high content of soluble fiber, chia seeds can help lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. Another nutrient found in chia seeds that has been linked to heart health is omega-3 fatty acids. These are also very good for brain health and preventing cognitive decline and dementia. 

Lower Blood Sugar

The fiber in chia seeds can lower blood sugar levels which is very helpful in preventing type 2 diabetes. Some studies have also shown that chia seeds may reduce insulin resistance, a major factor in causing diabetes. Research conducted between 2010 and 2013 found that adults who ate bread with chia seeds showed a lower rise in blood sugar after eating than those who ate bread without the seeds.

Bone Health

Some of the most important nutrients for healthy bones are calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Chia seeds contain a good amount of all three and therefore can play a role in good bone health. A 13-month animal study using rats as subjects found that daily consumption of chia seeds increased bone mineral content. Further research must be conducted for more conclusive evidence, but it does seem that chia seeds may aid bone density.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are a group of plant compounds that are important to good health. They fight molecules in the body known as free radicals. These molecules attack and damage cells and can cause chronic diseases such as cancer.  Chia seeds contain quercetin, caffeic acid, and kaempferol, antioxidants that fight cancer as well as improve liver and heart health.

Sometimes the smallest things can make a difference. Chia seeds are very easy to add to your diet but can make a big difference in your health.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Grand Prairie, Tex.

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