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Chia seeds are one of the newer superfoods out there, but chia seeds have an impressive history spanning back to pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. Aztecs used the seeds to get them through long journeys, as the seed alone provides a great deal of nutrients. Today chia seeds are incredibly versatile and very easy to incorporate into your diet, as any random food generator could show you. Mixed into smoothies, added to pancakes, sprinkled on smoothies…it’s almost impossible to not get enough chia seeds per day. But why should you?
Chia seeds are high in fiber, making them an excellent addition to your diet if you’re trying to lose weight. They’re also a great alternative to over-the-counter laxatives and stool softeners, as a diet high in fiber removes the need for these. Unfortunately they’re also a classic case of ‘too much of a good thing’, which is especially true for people who add too much fiber too soon. This can cause gastrointestinal distress, constipation, and bloating; as always, with any fiber source, ease it into your diet gradually. They should also be avoided if you have Crohn’s disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
▶ Also Read: Chia Seeds: The Ultimate Guide
As far as plant-based foods go they’re very high in omega-3 as well; this alone has a proven number of health benefits for all sorts of conditions and symptoms like inflammation, mental illness (anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia), fatty liver, and menstrual pain. However they’re not the best source of omega-3, so having a high intake of chia seeds per day isn’t as beneficial as you might think. Chia seeds are rich in an omega-3 known as ALA which needs to be converted into other types of omega-3 before it can be properly used by the body. Thus, while it’s a good way to indirectly include omega-3 in your diet, it’s not the most effective way to include it in your diet. As with all things, moderation is key.
They also include phosphorus, magnesium, and protein which -along with calcium- are all necessary for healthy bones. It should be noted they do contain phytic acid which reduces calcium absorption to an extent, but not significantly enough that they can’t be considered as a healthy alternative to the most mainstream source of calcium- dairy products. If you can’t or don’t include dairy products in your diet, chia seeds are worth looking into.
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As with any superfood it’s important to talk to your doctor before you go to town adding it to all of your meals. But if you get the okay to do so, the benefits to a chia-filled diet are practically endless.
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