Hever adds that omega-3s are good for both the head and heart because they support proper brain and cardiovascular function. “The omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds come in the form of alpha linoleic acid [ALA]which has been associated with anti-inflammatory, antithrombotic, and antiarrhythmic properties, and therefore really good for your heart and your total circulatory system, “he says. This type of fatty acid is also found in nuts, flax seeds and vegetables a leaf and research shows a connection between ALA consumption and longevity.
FYI, seafood, such as salmon, as well as seaweed (aka seaweed), are the other major sources of omega-3s, but ideally you should eat them in addition to a source of ALA omega-3s because they contain fat to long chain acids known as DHA and EPA, which your body also needs for optimal functioning.
And while that would be enough to make these nutrient-rich seeds a star on most people’s pantry shelves, omega-3s are just the beginning when it comes to chia seed benefits.
Benefits of chia seeds in addition to omega-3s
One serving of chia seeds, about two tablespoons, contains about 140 calories, 4 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, 7 grams of unsaturated fat, 18% of the recommended daily amount of calcium and trace minerals including zinc and copper. , according to Harvard University’s School of Public Health.
In addition to being a good source of ALA fatty acids, chia seeds provide proteins, amino acids, and many phytonutrients that fight inflammation, according to Hever. “Especially on a plant-based diet, where you get your protein from seeds, nuts and legumes, chia seeds are a really great source of essential amino acids,” she says. “We need it for all kinds of different reasons throughout the body.” The production of bioregulators such as hormones and neurotransmitters is just one of the many important functions that amino acids are responsible for.
And then in terms of phytonutrients, Hever says chia seeds are rich in flavonoids, tocopherols, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds. “This is probably what is responsible for their strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,” he says.
Finally, chia seeds contain many minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium that support bone health, in addition to zinc. They also contain soluble fiber, which we previously reported promotes gut health, low cholesterol, and low blood sugar.
5 easy chia seed recipes that aren’t just puddings
1. Lemon chia seed dressing
Hever says incorporating chia seeds as thickening agents in dressings and sauces is one of his favorite ways to incorporate them into his diet. “They’re also great stabilizers,” he says. “They have all these different fibers and gums that make water absorption possible.” (Hence how often they’re used to make a thick, creamy chia seed pudding.) This homemade dressing is a great dressing for salads and bowls of cereals. It is vegan and gluten-free, and the only ingredients needed are olive oil, lemon juice, agave, chia seeds and vinegar, as well as salt and pepper.
Get the Recipe: Lemon Chia Seed Dressing
2. Protein bites of cashew and chocolate chip cookie dough
Since they are a good source of soluble fiber, it makes sense to snack on chia seeds between meals because they can help balance blood sugar and boost digestion. Here, chia seeds are paired with dates, protein powders, cocoa nibs (among other ingredients) to create mini pick-me ups that will help you get through that long run between lunch and dinner.
Get the recipe: Protein bites of cashew cookie dough with chocolate chips
3. Split crackers
Swapping out store-bought crackers for this homemade recipe will allow you to pack more nutrients than typically packaged snacks. Make some for your next cheese platter or to accompany one of these anti-inflammatory dips and spreads that only take two minutes to prepare.
Get the recipe: Chia Crackers
4. Strawberry chia pudding
Okay, no chia seed recipe list would be complete without at least one pudding. But rest assured this isn’t your average option. The addition of Trader Joe’s dehydrated strawberries puts this chia pudding recipe in a class of its own. It is equally delicious for breakfast or dessert.
Get the recipe: Strawberry Chia Pudding
5. Raspberry chia jam
Another way that the thickening properties of chia seeds can be put to the best use is to make a sweet spread that allows you to incorporate the chia seeds in a way that doesn’t make them the main event. Spread this jam on toast or swirl it in oatmeal for a nutritionally dense hit of healthy fats and whole fruit.
Get the recipe: Chia Raspberry Jam
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