Should you cha-cha-cha-chia?
Anyone alive in the 80s or 90s who hears the word “chia” can’t help but sing the jingle for the ceramic figures that grew “real” hair. Popular for decades as a funky houseplant for kids, chia seeds have become known as a superfood that health nuts can’t get enough of.
Although new to the American diet, chia seeds have been consumed for over 5,000 years starting with the Aztecs and Mayans. Chia seeds come from the Salvia hispanica plant, a member of the mint family, and according to a study by the Journal of Food Science and Technology, have been used in everything from cosmetics to medicine.
If you haven’t incorporated them in your diet just yet, we’ve rounded up five good reasons why you should.
1. Fiber for days!
Studies by the USDA show that Americans don’t get nearly enough fiber in their diets. Most people only get about 40 percent of their daily goal, meaning they’re missing out on a key nutrient that helps regulate digestion and lower cholesterol. Just one tablespoon of chia seeds contains almost 5 grams of fiber and less than 60 calories.
2. Complete protein.
Good news for vegetarians and vegans – chia seeds are a complete protein, meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids. One serving is only about 2 grams of protein, so they can’t support your protein needs alone, but they are a great way to boost your daily intake. Throw them in your morning oatmeal or make some pudding with almond milk and you’re starting your day on the right track.
3. They help build strong bones.
A tablespoon of Chia seeds contains over 100 milligrams of phosphorus, about 11 percent of your daily goal, an important mineral for healthy bones. A study completed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that a high intake of phosphorus could improve bone density and even prevent osteoporosis by up to 45 percent.
4. Antioxidants galore.
Antioxidants help fight against aging and cancer-causing free radicals, which make them an important addition to your diet. Unfortunately supplements aren’t an effective way to get them. Fortunately chia seeds are full of them. Add them to a yogurt parfait with berries for an extra boost of antioxidants with protein.
5. Extra hydration.
Chia seeds love liquid! They can soak up about 10 times their weight in water, which makes them great for hydration. The Tarahumara tribe in Mexico has consumed chia fresca, a drink made with water-soaked seeds, lemon and honey, to help sustain their long-distance runs for centuries. An added bonus is that the mix of fiber and water helps you feel full longer, aiding in weight management.