I’ve heard a lot of people talking about the health benefits of chia seeds lately. In fact, a few of the ladies in my spin class were talking about them and mentioned the term superfood, so you know they’ve gotten trendy. (Almost as trendy as the original chia pet!)
Chia: Super food, or just super trendy?
So, are chia seeds just a fad, or truly a “super” seed that should be in your diet? Here are answers to popular questions about the benefits of chia seeds, starting with the (potentially) bad.
1. Can Chia seeds be bad for your health?
One of the unique properties of chia seeds is that they are like crazy little super-sponges that can absorb over 20x their weight in water.They start out looking like poppy seeds, and end up expanding into a slimy goo when you add water.
Always soak chia seeds for at least 10 minutes in water before ingesting them or adding them to a smoothie, or all that expanding can happen in your body. (Yikes!)
2. Do chia seeds curb your appetite?
Chia seeds are very high in soluble fiber (11 grams per ounce!) which helps to make you feel full. (among other health benefits) That’s more fiber than in 3 cups of broccoli!
3. Do chia seeds lower cholesterol?
Yes, they can! This same fiber in chia seeds that helps to surpress your appetite also helps lower cholesterol and prevents the absorption of fat.
4. Do chia seeds help you sleep?
Yes, they can. Chia seeds contain the amino acid tryptophan; that’s the same thing that’s in turkey that makes you feel relaxed or sleepy. Tryptophan raises your melatonin and seratonin levels, making you relaxed and promoting sleep.
But, unlike Thanksgiving dinner, you won’t have to binge on chia seeds to benefit from the effects, as chia seeds have twice the tryptophan as turkey. (And hold the gravy!)
5. Will Chia Seeds Make My Hair Shiny?
What an odd question! The crazy thing is that, yes, chia seeds do have benefits for your hair. Being rich in antioxidants and omega-3 oil, chia seeds help make your hair (or beard, mustache, etc.) shiny and strong.
6. Are Chia Seeds Paleo? (Paleo Diet)
Chia: What would cavemen do? Apparently the web is split on the answer to this. Chia seeds have extensive health benefits, but the Paleo diet excludes foods like grains, corn, breads, etc, so it would logically not be included in the paleo diet.
However, I think it would be a healthy addition to your diet, including paleo, which can exclude some beneficial foods just because cavemen didn’t eat them) You can also find paleo chia recipes online from various audacious homo-sapiens.
7. Skin: Exfoliating Chia Scrub Recipe!
Yet another benefit of chia seeds is for your skin. You can actually use a few household ingredients to make your own exfoliating chia scrub yourself. Why, in fact, here’s an easy recipe for the scrub:
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Mix the ingredients and apply to your (damp) face. Let the “mask” set for 2-3 minutes, and then use a washcloth to remove. Wash your face with cold water, and you’re done!
Healthy Chia Seeds Recipes
You can find a lot of great recipes online for chia seeds, even for diets like Weight Watchers, which offers a recipe Weight Watchers friendly chocolate chia seed pudding on its site. Here are some more chia recipes: