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chia seeds on a table

Chia seeds are often prominently placed in health food stores, and many people report to us that they consume them as part of their healthy diet. We wanted to learn more about chia seeds, and their health benefits.

Chia is a member of the mint family and was historically used as a staple food in the ancient Aztec diet. In the popular book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, author Christopher McDougall describes a fermented energy drink that includes chia.

An unprocessed whole grain, chia seeds can be digested whole or ground up, and have a mild, nutty flavor. Chia seeds are also a good source of fiber, with 5 grams of fiber per tablespoon. While chia seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids, they are in the short-chain form, which is poorly absorbed compared to the long-chain form found in marine sources.

Per tablespoon, chia seeds contain 70 calories, 4.5 grams fat, 5 grams fiber, and 2.5 grams protein. Because of the concentrated calories, be sure to measure when adding to yogurt, hot cereal, salad or baked goods. Ads for Chia often promote the product as being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and a good source of fiber, protein, minerals, and antioxidants. This said market interest is far ahead of published research on the chia seed benefits.

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While there’s a study in animals suggesting that chia may lower LDL (the lousy) blood cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing HDL (the healthy) cholesterol, the study hasn’t been replicated in humans.

However, it is a good source of fiber, so adding it to smoothies or breakfast cereal might be a good way to increase your fiber intake. If you elect to go this route, our recommendation would be to price various Chia products in your grocery store.

This Healthy Vegetarian Stir-Fry with Ginger, Garlic and Chia Seeds recipe provides an opportunity to try chia seeds in your diet.

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Article by Jill Turner, President Cooper Concepts

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