Chia seeds were so revered by the Mayan and Aztec civilizations that the word "chia" was the ancient Mayan word for "strength." They are so nutrient-dense that they are considered one of the healthiest superfoods on the planet. Here are just seven of the many health benefits you can get from eating chia seeds:
Chia seeds contain high levels of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is the primary fatty acid found in chia seeds. According to French researchers, a high intake of ALA has been linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer. In a 2013 study, researchers discovered that ALA had the potential to induce “cell suicide” in breast cancer cells and cervical cancer cells without having any negative effect on the nearby healthy cells. (Related: Why chia seeds, an ancient superfood, are worth having in your pantry.)
Since chia seeds contain high levels of fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, the regular consumption of chia seeds may reduce your risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that chia seeds can support your healthy heart function by reducing your body’s levels of triglycerides and LDL or “bad” cholesterol. At the same time, they can also increase your body's levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol. They have also been shown to reduce blood pressure levels in people with hypertension.
Inflammation is a perfectly normal response of the body. It is only bad if it happens frequently, especially in the joints. According to research, some of the nutrients that can be found in chia seeds have potent anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic properties that can help relieve symptoms of chronic inflammation in the body. Even the Aztecs believed that chia seeds were important for healthy joints.
People with diabetes or pre-diabetes can greatly benefit from eating chia seeds. An Australian study found that chia seeds are linked to improved tolerance to glucose, as well as an improved sensitivity to insulin. When coupled with an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits, chia seeds can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Chia seeds possess immune-boosting capabilities due to their high antioxidant content. They are so packed with antioxidants that they have even higher antioxidant ratings than blackberries, pineapples, mangoes, and grapes. Some of the antioxidants found in chia seeds include vitamins C and E, flavonols, lignin, and phenolic acids.
It's no wonder that the word "chia" means "strength." Just like the ancient Mayans and Aztecs, modern athletes use chia seeds to boost their endurance and stamina.
The antioxidants in chia seeds can help to eliminate free radicals and protect your body from the harmful effects of oxidative stress. This can also help you maintain healthy and youthful-looking skin. Many nutrients found in chia seeds can also promote the growth of healthy hair.