Chia, scientifically known as Salvica Hispania, belongs to the mint family, Lamiaceae.
It is a small herb with purple or white flowers. Native to central and southern Mexico, this flowering plant is used to prepare nutritious drinks and as a food source.
Despite the ancient history as a staple food in Mexican diet, the medical potential of chia seeds wasn’t realized until recently.
Chia seeds are found to promote weight loss, weight management, prevent constipation, hypertension, diabetes and act as antioxidants. Let’s have a look at the constituents present in chia seeds that make them a superfood.
Chia Seeds: Quick Nutrition Profile
An ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contain:
- Protein: 4.4 g
- Total carbohydrate: 12.3 g (10.6g of which is dietary fiber)
- Total fats: 8.6 g (4.9 g of which is omega 3 fatty acids)
- Calcium: 177mg
- Phosphorous: 265mg
- Potassium: 44.8mg
Besides, good amounts of zinc, copper and manganese are also found.
With just 137 calories per one ounce, chia seeds are an amazing source of essential nutrients at a low calorie intake.
A dieter’s dream food, chia seeds have a great importance in weight loss and its management.
Let’s understand how chia seeds help to prevent weight gain.
4 reasons why chia seed is a wonder food when it comes to weight loss and management
Here are some evidence based reasons why including chia seeds in diet for weight loss makes sense.
1. Chia seeds stimulate fat reduction
High body mass index is a significant marker of weight gain. Excess fat deposits in the body are one of the major culprits for high BMI. Besides, obese people have high adipose fat tissues around their waists.
Linoleic acid present in chia seeds is a polyunsaturated omega 6 fatty acid. A scientific study carried out at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA found that linoleic acid supplementation showed significant body fat reduction over six months and prevented weight gain among overweight adults.
A study carried out on overweight individuals showed that consumption of chia for 12 weeks led to significant reduction in weight and waist circumference. Besides, there was improvement in lipid profiles of the participating individuals.
What it means? Scientific studies have shown that chia seeds are beneficial in reducing BMI, waist circumference and cholesterol levels.
2. Chia seeds enhance satiety, prevent overeating
Chia seeds are a rich source of proteins providing 4.4g per ounce. A scientific study carried out in University of Washington School of Medicine concluded that an increase in the dietary protein from 15% to 30% of energy produces a decrease in ad libitum caloric intake at a constant carbohydrate intake.
This is mediated by central nervous system leptin sensitivity and results in significant weight loss.
Another study carried out at The University of Missouri, Columbia demonstrated that consumption of higher protein intake, but not greater eating frequency, led to improved appetite control and satiety in overweight men. As a result, energy restriction induced significant weight loss was observed.
Besides, chia seeds are a great source of dietary fiber. Out of the total 12.3 g of carbohydrate present per ounce of chia seeds, 10.6g is dietary fiber. Dietary fiber absorbs good amount of water thereby expanding in stomach and inducing a feeling of satisfaction.
This leads to slow absorption of food thereby limiting the unnecessary calorie intake.
Linoleic acid is an important polyunsaturated omega 6 fatty acid. Scientific studies have shown that linoleic acids help to enhance satiety and lower appetite, thus preventing over-eating. This is highly beneficial in controlling the body weight.
What it means? Fiber, proteins and linoleic acid present in chia seeds help to enhance satiety, lower appetite thus preventing unnecessary calorie intake.
3. Chia seeds supply good fats to the body
Out of the total 8.6g fats present in chia seeds, around 4.9g are omega fatty acids. A study conducted at the University of Navarra, Spain demonstrated that long chain omega-3 fatty acids modulates satiety and promote weight loss.
A diet with chia seeds, nopal, soy protein and oat is found to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, triglycerides and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. This considerably reduces the risk of atherosclerosis and subsequent hypertension.
What it means? Chia seeds are a great source of omega 3 fatty acid and omega 6 fatty acids. These fatty acids have an indirect role in curbing obesity.
4. Chia seeds prevent insulin resistance
Insulin resistance is a condition wherein the cell ability to respond to the action of insulin in transporting glucose from bloodstream to muscles and tissues is reduced. Insulin resistance is usually associated with weight gain and obesity. It increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
A scientific study conducted at the University of Litoral, Argentina showed that dietary chia seed prevented the onset of insulin resistance and dyslipidaemia. Besides, dietary chia seeds reduced the visceral adiposity.
What it means? Insulin resistance is associated with weight gain and obesity. Scientific studies have shown that chia seeds help in preventing the onset of insulin resistance.
Besides these, chia seeds help to prevent many cardiovascular disorders, diabetes mellitus, bone diseases and constipation.
How to incorporate chia seeds into your diet?
Chia seeds have a bland taste so it’s rather easy to add them into anything. They can be consumed raw, added in juices, puddings and porridges. Besides, they can be sprinkled on top of noodles, vegetables and cereals.
It is essential to remember that excessive consumption of chia seeds can lead to digestive problems.
It is recommended to consume 20 grams of chia seeds twice a day.
Chia seeds are highly nutritious food. The high fiber and protein content with low calorific value make chia seeds one of the most recommended foods for obese people.
Out of the total fat content, majority are omega fatty acids that are incredibly beneficial for our body. High nutrient content at low energy intake is the distinguishing factor that differentiates chia seeds from other foods.
Considering all these factors, it is essential for people who are concerned about their weight to include chia seeds in their diet.