Chia seeds have been called a superfood for many generations, and the research shows that our ancestors were right!
These tiny seeds are from the plant Salvia hispanica L. (commonly known as chia), which is a typically from Central and South America.
Chia seeds are growing in popularity since they are an excellent source of high quality protein and fiber that is low on calories. They have been shown to be beneficial for those with diabetes and hypertension, and helps contribute better colon health.
Here are 15 health benefits of chia seeds:
The Biggest Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds
1. Chia Seeds Are Nutrient Dense
The chia seed is extremely nutrient dense and contains protein (15–25%), fats (30–33%), carbohydrates (26–41%), high dietary fiber (18–30%), and rich in antioxidants .
Chia seed also contains 25% to 40% oil with 60% of it comprising (omega) ω-3 alpha-linolenic acid and 20% of (omega) ω-6 linoleic acid which are required to be consumed since they cannot be synthesized by the body .
A serving of 100g of chia seeds contains :
- 486 calories
- 42g carbohydrates (of which 34.4g of that is fiber)
- 30.7g is fat (of which 23g is omega fatty acids)
- 16.5g protein
The minerals breakdown is :
- Calcium (63.1% rda): Essential for bones, muscles and nerves 
- Phosphorus (86% rda): Contributes to bone health and tissue maintenance 
- Magnesium (83.8%): Critical for numerous important roles in the body 
- Iron (42.9%): Important for red blood cell production
This whole grain food is a great source of fiber especially for those with gluten allergy. The increased fiber has been shown to be helpful to reduce diabetes risk and improve colon health [8, 9, 10].
2. Chia Seeds Can Help You Lose Weight
Readers should be reminded that weight loss requires a sustained and combined effort of both exercise and proper caloric deficit along with high protein and fiber. Simply adding just chia seeds to your diet will not alone lead to weight loss.
Thus, if you do incorporate chia seeds in your diet, it is best to add this along with other lifestyle changes for best results such as calorie restriction and exercise.
3. Chia Seeds Are A Great Fiber Source
Based on the chart above a serving of 100g of chia seeds contains 42g of carbohydrates and 35g of fiber. Keep in mind that fiber is not digested by the body and will not raise the sugar; thus, it is not counted towards your carb count.
Fiber has been shown to help with weight loss and keeps your gut healthy [24, 25, 26]. Interestingly, the fiber in chia seeds is shown to be higher than quinoa, flaxseed, and amaranth, even greater compared with other dried products .
4. Chia Seeds Help Fight Constipation
As discussed, chia seeds are rich in fiber which will contribute to better gastrointestinal health.
5. Chia Seeds Are A Quality Protein Source
It is safe to say that if you consume the rda recommendations 0.8-1.3g of protein per kg of your bodyweight per day you would meet most of the guidelines.
However, if you do serious weightlifting, consider aiming to eat 1.5g of protein per kg of your bodyweight per day. Fortunately, chia seeds are a great source of protein to add to your diet to meet many of your protein goals.
6. Chia Seeds Are A High Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have shown numerous benefits such as improving cardiovascular disease [34, 35], reducing risk of metabolic syndrome  and inflammation , and improve joint pain and movement .
Interestingly, gram-for-gram chia seeds contain more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon!
However, they contain mostly alpha linolenic acid (ala) which humans are inefficient at converting to active forms.
It turns out that omega-3s from plants are inferior to animal sources for this reason. Also, it should be noted that chia seeds do not contain Docosahexaenoic Acid (dha) which can be found in fish or fish oil .
7. Chia Seeds Can Lower Risk of Heart Disease
It is interesting to note that although chia seeds have high protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, the studies are inconclusive in regards to how they reduce cardiovascular risk.
A systemic review was recently done which assess seven studies and showed that the studies did not demonstrate statistically significant results in relation to cardiovascular disease (cvd) risk factors .
Another study showed that consuming 50g a day of chia seed vs placebo for 12 weeks by overweight/obese men and women had no influence on body mass or composition, or various disease risk factor measure . Further studies will need to be done to see if there is an effect.
8. Chia Seeds Contain Bone Nutrients
Chia seeds contain calcium, phosphorus which is important for bone health . The calcium content is great for those who do not consume dairy.
9. Chia Seeds Improve Your Teeth
Since chia seeds contain calcium and phosphorus, they can help contribute to stronger teeth as well as bone health.
In addition, the zinc in chia seeds prevents tartar by keeping plaque from mineralizing onto your teeth and has an antibacterial effect to keep bad breath at bay !
10. Chia Seeds Help Fight Cancer
A recent study published in the renowned Journal of Molecular Biology in 2013 showed that the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha lipoic acid (or ala) limited the growth of cancer cells in both breast and cervical cancers .
Chia seeds are rich in ala, however, at this time more studies need to be done to better assess how the chia seeds can be used for prevention and treatment of cancer.
11. Chia Seeds Boost Your Mood
Chia seeds may play an important part in elevating your happiness due to the amino acid tryptophan found in them.
Tryptophan plays a key role in producing the neurotransmitters serotonin which contributes to your happiness .
12. Chia Seeds Help With Diabetes
A recent study showed that diabetics who consume chia seeds reduces both cardiovascular risk factors while maintaining good glycemic and lipid control in people with well-controlled type 2 diabetes .
13. Chia Seeds Are Rich In Antioxidants
The chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants which protect the sensitive fats in the seed itself from going bad .
14. Chia Seeds Boost Athletic Performance
A recent study showed that during an hour long treadmill run, a group that consumed chia seeds had similar performance times to those that consumed a carbohydrate energy drink .
This is interesting since it suggests that we can substitute chia seeds for carbohydrate heavy energy drinks to get similar results.
Given the omega-3 fatty acid component of chia seeds, this study shows that increased intake of chia seeds for endurance events lasting more than 90 minutes can help athletes decrease their sugar intake while increasing their intake of Omega 3 fatty acids, but offered no performance advantages .
However, other studies also showed no significant improvement on athletic performance . More randomized control trials need to be done to get a conclusive result.
15. Chia Seeds Are Easy To Add To Your Diet
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The Best Health Benefits Of Chia Seeds
- Chia seeds are nutrient dense
- Chia seeds can help you lose weight
- Chia seeds are a great fiber source
- Chia seeds help fight constipation
- Chia seeds are a quality protein source
- Chia seeds are a high source of omega-3 fatty acids
- Chia seeds can lower risk of heart disease
- Chia seeds contain bone nutrients
- Chia seeds improve your teeth
- Chia seeds help fight cancer
- Chia seeds boost your mood
- Chia seeds help with diabetes
- Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants
- Chia seeds boost athletic performance
- Chia seeds are easy to add to your diet
Rajiv M Mallipudi, md, mhs is an internal medicine resident physician, personal trainer, athlete and author. He has over a decade of personal training experience and helped hundreds of clients of all levels achieve their weight loss and fitness goals. This inspired him to work as a clinical researcher at the nationally recognized Johns Hopkins Hospital Weight Management Center. During medical school he and his classmates created the health and wellness organization, med fit, which provided personal training and nutrition counseling to the medical student body. In his spare time, Dr. Mallipudi enjoys playing ice hockey, dancing, and training for his next bodybuilding and powerlifting competitions.
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