Once ingested by Aztec warriors for their high protein content, chia seeds have since become one of the must-have kitchen staples for health-conscious eaters. Not only are they packed full of nutritional goodness, but they also have one of the highest protein counts of all foodstuffs. The food also offers tons of other nutrition you need to survive and thrive. Read about the following five benefits of this powerful grain, and you will be a chia convert in no time.

1. Strong Bones

An ounce of chia seeds will give you 18 percent of your daily recommended calcium intake. Calcium is essential for maintaining bone strength. They also contain boron, which is a key mineral for bone health and widely used as a supplement to treat osteoarthritis. Hence, chia seeds bring you the nutrition you need to build strong bones and increase muscle strength, making it a healthy food choice for everyone from children to elderly folks. It’s also an excellent food option for vegetarians needing extra protein and calcium in their diet.

2. Dietary Fiber

According to the American Dietetic Association, just one serving of chia seeds can provide the state’s daily recommended fiber intake. With a whopping 11 grams of fiber per ounce, chia seeds are one of the most fiber-dense grains available. Fiber is essential for facilitating regular bowel movements, maintaining a healthy digestive tract and managing blood sugar levels.

3. Heart Protection

The heart is an important organ. Chia seeds are able to help keep your heart pumping smoothly, thanks to its high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help out the heart by decreasing bad cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and protecting against inflammation (which strains the blood vessels and can thus lead to heart disease).

4. Energy Boost

A study by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning discovered that eating chia seeds is advantageous for those working out or undergoing sports physical therapy. The research team found that these ancient seeds enhanced performance for up to 90 minutes. That’s news anyone working in sports medicine should know. It’s also news you should take to heart if you are planning on getting in shape but don’t seem to have the energy to get out and work out.

5. Feel Fuller For Longer

Chia seeds expand in the stomach because they are able to absorb up to 27 times their own weight in water, which helps you to feel full. They also contain high levels of zinc, which helps to increase the production of the hormone leptin in the body. Leptin is what controls your appetite and regulates energy levels. If you’re looking to lose weight or curb cravings, a teaspoon of chia seeds in your morning juice or smoothie will really help. A bonus is that chia seeds are versatile and can be used in a variety of healthy recipes.

Note that, because of the way chia seeds expand, they can cause discomfort if eaten before soaking them (which allows them to expand). If they have not expanded before consumption, chia seeds will expand in the stomach, and can cause discomfort–and even block the esophagus. If you experience discomfort, drink plenty of water and contact a medical professional if deemed necessary. To avoid this issue, soak the chia seeds prior to eating them. When soaked, the seeds become like gelatin, and you can easily make chia seed pudding, mix them with salad, add them in cereal, or blend them with a smoothie. There are numerous other recipes you can make with this gelatin-like texture.

Sources:

http://draxe.com/chia-seeds-benefits-side-effects/

http://thehealthology.com/2015/12/health-benefits-and-side-effects-of-chia-seeds/

https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/894.html

http://draxe.com/ancient-superseed-chia-increases-energy-and-metabolism/

http://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/the-facts-on-leptin-faq