Small but Mighty: A Closer Look at the Chia Seed

Food as Medicine

If you’re just learning about chia seeds, don’t feel bad. They’re one of a handful of grains that are gaining popularity as people search for healthier alternatives to ever-present toxic, highly-processed foods. They’re not a new discovery, though! 

Chia seeds are tiny, round seeds from Mexico, Central and South America. They’ve been used for their medicinal and nutritional value since the days of the Aztec and Mayan cultures.

The great thing about chia seeds is that they pack an outsized nutritional impact for such a tiny seed. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of the champion chia seed! 

Chia seeds pack in a TON of fiber. 

One ounce of chia seeds contains 10 grams of fiber. That’s over a third of our daily fiber requirement

Fiber is essential to our diets, and most of us don’t get enough! It directly supports almost all of the benefits discussed here, but it’s crucial for feeding beneficial gut bacteria. 

The beneficial bacteria in our gut, our microbiome, need fiber to maintain a diverse, healthy community. In the process of “eating” this fiber, our gut bacteria produce precursors of essential hormones that regulate appetite, blood sugar, and even our mood! 

They also use fiber to make important anti-inflammatory substances called short-chain fatty acids(SCFAs)! 

Chia seeds could may prevent heart attacks & lower blood pressure.

In addition to all that heart-healthy fiber, chia seeds contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This polyunsaturated fat promotes a more beneficial cholesterol profile. Polyunsaturated fats, like Omega-3 and Omega-6, can help raise healthy HDL cholesterol and lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.

A 2020 review of Omega-3 benefits indicated that increased consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids like those in chia seeds could help prevent heart attacks. However, these healthy fats aren’t the only way chia seeds promote cardiovascular health! 

Several studies associated chia seed consumption with lowered blood pressure, and it’s easy to see why! Lipid-balancing powers, healthy fiber, anti-inflammatory antioxidants, and weight loss-supporting characteristics contribute to reduced blood pressure!

Chia seeds support healthy blood sugar levels.

Chia seeds are low on the glycemic index, which means that they cause lower spikes in blood sugar when consumed. Low glycemic foods are high in fiber, balancing sugar consumption and helping regulate insulin levels.

The fiber in chia seeds can also help regulate blood sugar by boosting our microbiome health! Feeding our gut bacteria enough fiber allows them to support healthy blood sugar by balancing hormones like insulin and appetite-regulating hormones like ghrelin.

Chia seeds can help with healthy weight management.

Here’s a freaky fact: chia seeds can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water! What does this mean? So, when we eat chia seeds, they absorb water and help us to feel full for longer. Combined with their high-fiber content, this can help regulate our appetite and curb cravings. 

Because chia seeds absorb so much liquid, you can use them as a nutritious thickener in recipes like smoothies, puddings, and even baking! 

Chia seeds battle inflammation. 

There are a few ways chia seeds can help fight the chronic inflammation that plagues many of us. All that fiber combats inflammation by supporting our beneficial bacteria-producing antiinflammatory SCFAs.

But another critical factor in chia seeds’ ability to fight inflammation is their antioxidants. They contain caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, kaempfrol, and quercetin. These powerful antioxidants fight oxidative stress and prevent cellular damage, keeping chronic inflammation at a minimum. 

These are just some fantastic perks of adding chia seeds to your diet! They also contain essential phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Try them in virtually any recipe where you want to boost fiber! 

Chia seeds are one of many healthy, whole foods incorporated into Betr’s food as medicine program. But for their size, chia seeds provide an incredible nutritional bang for your buck!

After reading this article, you may be asking yourself if your own health hurdles could be related to an unhealthy gut.

Explore Betr's risk-free trial to see if you could benefit from using food as medicine to rebuild your microbiome and realize the healthy potential you never knew you were missing!