9 Benefits of Chia Seeds (And a Few Drawbacks)

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chia seedsThere are many benefits to eating chia seeds. In fact, they are considered a “super food” because of the many nutrients they provide. And, as you will see below, they are packed with lots of good stuff.

However, you should know that just because it has been dubbed a super food, does not mean you should jump in and start consuming lots of it. Start slow and make sure it works well for you. One person’s super food can be another person’s toxin.

So, before I get into the benefits, lets look at the other side of chia seeds.

Things to Consider Before Eating Chia Seeds

An interesting trait of chia seeds is that they can absorb as much as 12 times their weight in water. This is great for certain recipes or helping you feel full. But, if you don’t also consume more liquid when you eat dry chia seeds, they can absorb water from the body on their way through making you dehydrated or even constipated.

Chia seeds are also considered a high oxalate food and some people cannot tolerate oxalates. If you tend to get oxalate-based kidney stones or have other oxalate-type health issues you will need to find another super food.

Oxalate issues are difficult to diagnose because there are so many possible symptoms and combination of symptoms. It does not always show up as kidney stones. Other common symptoms include painful joints, fatigue, low muscle tone, burning feet, slow growth in children, etc. They can also create anxiety, depression and brain fog.

If you think you may have oxalate problems, select seeds that are considered low-oxalate, like pumpkin seeds and flax seeds instead. And, work with a health professional that is well versed in oxalates. (An OATS test is often used to determine the problem.)

Ways You Can Eat Chia Seeds

You can eat chia seeds dry (whole or ground) or wet (after being soaked). Both ways provide a number of nutrients, but soaking whole chia seeds in water or coconut milk for at least 10 minutes helps to release their protein inhibitors, allowing your body to absorb more of their nutrients.

If you eat them dry, be sure to drink additional water during the day for the reasons mentioned above. Try adding dry chia seeds to your yogurt, fruit bowl or salad for an extra crunch. (Note, however, that dry seeds tend to stick to your teeth.)

When you soak the chia seeds they absorb the liquid and the mixture becomes gelatinous over time. This is a good solution for adding chia seeds to smoothies or making chia pudding. Chia seeds and water also make a good egg substitute as explained here.

9 Benefits of Chia Seeds

So why are chia seeds considered a super food? Here are nine great benefits:

1 – High source of omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 is known to benefit the cell membrane, making the membrane more permeable so your cells can better absorb nutrients and remove waste. Omega 3’s also help improve cognitive performance and reduce inflammation by creating a better omega 3 to 6 fatty acid ratio in your body.

2 – Good source of healthy fats and dietary fiber. Chia seeds help clear your digestive system on their way through and can help you have better bowel movements.

3 – High protein food. If you are not getting your protein from meat or other animal products, chia seeds can help provide additional protein to your diet.

4 – High mineral content. Chia seeds contain quite a few minerals.

  • Lots of calcium and phosphorous, which are good for the health of your bones and teeth.
  • High in selenium with traces of zinc, which help boost your immune system.
  • High source of iron, which can help boost your red blood cell count.
  • High in magnesium, which is required for so many different body processes, including detoxification, making cellular energy, and balancing alkalinity in the body,
  • Other trace minerals include manganese and copper.

5 – Good Source of Niacin. The vitamin content of chia seeds includes folate, riboflavin, thiamine, and small amounts of Vitamin A, C and E. Niacin is also abundant in chia seeds which helps with LDL-cholestroal levels in the blood and provides anti-anxiety properties by enhancing the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain.

6 – Provides healthy antioxidants. Chia seed antioxidants include ferulic acid, caffeic acid, and quercetin. Antioxidants help to counteract oxidative stress in the body by offering protection from free radicals.

7 – Keeps you better hydrated. Since chia seeds can absorb 12 times their weight in water, this water gets stored in the gut, allowing you to slowly absorb the fluid over time. A great benefit for athletes, like long distance runners, but hydration can also help with sleep, headaches and cramps.

8 – Low-glycemic index food. Some studies show that chia seeds may help stabilize blood sugar.

9 – Possibly helpful for weight loss. Especially true when eaten raw and unsoaked, as the chia seeds gain mass in the stomach they can make you feel more full and thereby make you less hungry. (When eating unsoaked chia seeds, be sure to drink extra water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated.)

All good reasons to try chia seeds if you have not already! Buy organic whenever you can. Here is a chia pudding parfait recipe to get you started.

This article was written by Sharon K. Harmon, PhD, founder of Life Design for Health. As a “Health Designer” she has a passion for helping people find their way back to optimum health by looking at the body from a unique perspective. Please contact her if you would like to know more. There is a great deal of health-related information in her blog articles and on her website, including a healing foods and pantry list and recipes that are gluten-free, dairy-free and GMO-free. She is also passionate about EMF safety.

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