Chia seeds are one of the biggest food trends in years. The tiny black seeds from the chia plant (Salvia hispanica) are hugely popular now, but their history dates back to 3,500 B.C. and the Aztec and Mayan cultures. In the Mayan language, the word “chia” means “strength.” Sounds good, but what’s the real deal from a nutritional standpoint? As a Brain Warrior, you know it’s always important to look beyond the hype, read labels, and investigate what you’re putting in your body.
I’ve taken a deep dive into the nutritional value of chia seeds, and I can tell you I’m a big fan. Considered a “superfood,” chia seeds are a great source of:
- important minerals
- omega-3 fatty acids (especially alpha-linolenic acids)
In fact, of all plant-based foods, chia seeds provide the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids—twice as much as English walnuts and more than three times as much as ground flaxseeds. And in terms of protein, they are considered a “complete” protein, meaning they provide all 9 essential amino acids—the ones that aren’t produced by the body and have to be derived from the foods you eat.
Big Health Benefits from Tiny Seeds
In addition, chia seeds are associated with a wide range of health benefits, including improving blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, reducing triglyceride levels, curbing appetite, and helping with weight loss. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been found to reduce inflammation, prevent blood clots, normalize blood pressure, and more.
The fiber in chia seeds is primarily soluble fiber, a “prebiotic” that supports the good bacteria in the gut. As you know, gut health is associated with mental health and brain health, so it’s always a good idea to consume foods that promote a healthy microbiome.
Fiber also slows down the digestion process, and the longer food stays in your stomach, the longer you feel full. It also reduces the likelihood of experiencing blood sugar spikes and crashes.
There is one caveat where chia seeds are concerned—they may contain lectins. In some people lectins can cause biological changes to the cellular lining of the intestines, which can contribute to leaky gut. For some people, a low-lectin protocol may be helpful so you may want to avoid or limit chia seeds. As always, you have to do what works for your body.
How to Enjoy Chia Seeds
I love chia seeds and include them in my diet regularly. I like to sprinkle them on top of a salad or add them to smoothies for a tasty health boost. You can also use chia seeds as an egg substitute when baking. Just take a tablespoon of chia seeds, mix with 3 tablespoons of water, and let it sit for about 20 minutes (or overnight). The mixture will take on a gel-like texture that is a good
For a delicious chia-filled dessert or snack, try my recipe for Chia Protein Pudding on my website. You can also find many smoothie recipes that use Omni Protein powder (in vanilla and chocolate) and chia seeds in The Brain Warrior’s Way Cookbook. You can get 21% off when you enter the promo code TANA21 at checkout.