They say good things come in small packages and when it comes to chia seeds, we’d have to say we agree. With essential fatty acids, antioxidants, fibre and protein to boot, chia seeds nutrition and health benefits are impressive… especially when you consider how tiny they are!
Plus, chia seeds are more than just a nutritional powerhouse. These dainty seeds are one of the most versatile ingredients you can find. From smoothies to salads and shakes to bakes, there are so many easy ways to incorporate chia into your routine.
Chia seeds also happen to be one of Purition’s core ingredients. We’re proud to be the first UK wellness and nutrition company to use chia seeds grown in Britain. We’re passionate about the power of these super-seeds and are certain that by the end of this guide, you will be too!
With that said, here’s everything you need to know about chia seeds nutrition, plus some tips to help you start reaping the health benefits of chia seeds…
What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are smooth, shiny, grey-black seeds measuring around 2mm. Yep, they’re tiny! Native to Central and Southern America, chia seeds go by the botanical name of Salvia hispanica and come from the Lamiaceae (mint) family.
Chia seeds benefits were known long before they gained modern-day ‘superfood’ status. It’s believed that they were one of the four basic foods of Central American civilizations, who often used them for medicinal purposes too.
The word ‘chia’ actually means ‘strength’ in Mayan (the language family of Central America and Mexico). This owes to the fact that Mayan and Aztec cultures prized chia seeds for their ability to provide strength and stamina. Rumour has it that Aztec warriors swore by a spoon of chia seeds a day to boost their energy!
Before we delve into the top chia seeds benefits, take a quick look at their impressive nutritional profile…
Chia seeds nutrition facts
Two heaped tablespoons (around 28g) of chia seeds contains approximately 137 calories, 8.6g fat (of which only 0.9g is saturated), 10g dietary fibre, 4.6g protein and only 2.2g net carbs. But what really makes chia seeds nutrition shine is the micronutrient profile, which includes:
- Phosphorus: 265mg (48% RDI)
- Calcium: 177mg (17% RDA)
- Magnesium: 93.8mg (31% men’s RDI, 34% women’s RDI)
- Copper: 0.3mg (30% RD)
- Manganese: 0.6mg (24% RDI)
- Thiamine: 0.2mg (20% men’s RDI, 25% women’s RDI)
- Selenium: 15.5μg (20% men’s RDI, 25% women’s RDI)
- Iron: 2.2mg (25% men’s RDI, 14% women’s RDI)
- Niacin: 2.5mg (15% men’s RDI, 19% women’s)
- Zinc: 1mg (10% men’s RDI, 14% women’s RDI)
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA): 5g
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 4915mg
- Omega-6 fatty acids: 1620mg
Simply put, calorie-for-calorie, chia seeds nutrition gives you amazing bang for your buck!
Chia seeds health benefits
Chia seeds are nutrient-dense and provide a complete vegan protein source, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also a rich source of fibre, which can aid in healthy weight loss and help to improve digestion. In addition, regularly consuming chia seeds (as part of a balanced diet) can help to lower blood pressure and decrease the risk factors for type-2 diabetes and heart disease.
So if you’re wondering whether chia seeds deserve their superfood reputation, it’s a definite yes. Chia seeds health benefits are endless, but here are the 8 you need to know about:
1. Chia seeds are high in essential fatty acids
Chia seeds are impressively high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic acid, which belongs to the omega-3 group.
Healthy fats, including essential fatty acids, are an important source of energy and are required for numerous essential bodily functions and processes. ALA ( alpha-linolenic acid) in particular has been shown to…
Omega-3s are referred to as an ‘essential’ fatty acids, simply because they are exactly that: essential. Your body can’t make them on its own, meaning you must consume them through food. The good news? Chia seeds make it easy! A couple of teaspoons of chia seeds per day would allow you to comfortably meet your daily essential ALA requirements.
Purition is another great source of plant-based omega-3s (ALA) from chia and flaxseed. On average, Purition contains 1.85g per serving, which instantly hits the recommended dietary allowance for omega-3s.
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2. Chia seeds are packed with protein
Chia seeds are around 18–24% protein by mass, which is much higher than the majority of plants.
A high-protein diet brings numerous health benefits:
- Promotes healthy weight loss
- Increases muscle mass
- Strengthens bones
- Reduces cravings
Protein reduces the level of the hunger hormone (ghrelin), increases metabolism and is very filling. As a result, consuming plenty of protein can help you to lose weight. Read more about the benefits of protein in our high-protein diet guide.
Chia seeds are a great store-cupboard essential for anyone looking to go vegan. Unlike many plant-based proteins, they contain all nine of the essential amino acids (amino acids that your body cannot produce and therefore must gain from food). This makes them a complete vegan protein source.
If that’s not enough to impress you, you might be surprised to hear that chia seeds contain more protein per gram than a boiled egg!
3. Chia seeds are a rich source of fibre
Chia seeds contain approximately 85–93% insoluble fibre (IDF) and 7–15% of soluble dietary fibre (SDF) (source). Both are essential for good health, but let’s take a quick look at how each type of fibre will benefit you specifically…
- Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and helps to move digestion along, preventing constipation and other bowel-related issues.
- Soluble fibre dissolves in water and forms a thick gel substance in the stomach. It slows down digestion which, in turn, helps to stabilise blood sugar levels, keep the gut healthy and reduce appetite.
A high-fibre diet has been closely linked to a lower risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer, particularly bowel and colon.
But research shows that most of the UK don’t get enough fibre. The RDA is 30g, but the average intake falls at a mere 18g. Think you’re undergoing it? Chia seeds (and Purition!) make for a convenient way to boost your daily intake.
4. Chia seeds may help with weight loss
One of the biggest chia seeds health benefits is weight loss. This is partly due to their high protein, fibre and healthy fat content, despite being fairly low in calories. Foods that are high in these three key nutrients are typically very filling and can, therefore, reduce cravings and unnecessary snacking.
But most of chia’s supposed weight-loss power comes from the fact that they absorb up to 10 times their weight in water. This helps to fill up the stomach and slow down the rate of digestion, leading to an even bigger boost in satiety. On the other hand, some studies conclude that chia seeds do not impact (positively or negatively) weight loss efforts.
So, what’s the Purition take? Loading up on chia seeds, but ignoring your wider diet, is unlikely to lead to weight loss. However, incorporating them into a healthy, balanced diet made up of nutrient-dense wholefoods might. If you are looking to lose weight or simply make healthier choices, Purition can help. All of our flavours contain chia seeds and are designed to satisfy your appetite for at least 4 hours. Get started by reading our guide to using Purition for weight loss.
5. Chia seeds may have a positive effect on type-2 diabetes
Early studies have found that a major chia seeds benefit is their beneficial effect on lipid and glucose homeostasis. This means they may improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.
Another promising study found that chia improved blood sugar in volunteers, whilst lowering their blood pressure and markers of cardiac risk.
While more research is needed to support chia seeds benefits upon type-2 diabetes, their rich fibre content is highly beneficial for the condition regardless. High-fibre diets are associated with a reduced risk of developing diabetes, whilst eating fibrous foods is known to help keep your blood sugar levels stable.
6. Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants
Dry chia seeds are an estimated 8.8% antioxidant, including chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin and kaempferol.
Antioxidants protect the body from unstable molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells and cause oxidative stress. Chronic oxidative stress can increase the risk of disease, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
But antioxidants, which are in abundance in chia seeds, are known as free radical scavengers. They can help to slow and prevent damage to your cells from free radicals and, in turn, help to reduce the risk of chronic disease and cognitive decline.
7. Chia seeds can help to lower blood pressure
An estimated one in three people in Britain suffer from high blood pressure, with many unaware they actually have it.
According to Blood Pressure UK, high blood pressure is responsible for more than half of all strokes and heart attacks in the UK. It’s also a major risk factor for heart disease, kidney disease and dementia.
But numerous studies have shown that chia seeds are able to reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension (high blood pressure). In one of the studies, just 35 g of chia seeds (around 3 tablespoons) a day resulted in marked improvements in blood pressure levels.
8. Chia seeds can boost bone health
Two heaped tablespoons of chia seeds contains 17% of the calcium RDI and 48% of the phosphorus RDI, which are both important nutrients for good bone health.
This becomes even more impressive when you compare the calcium content of chia seeds to milk. 1 cup of chia seeds providers 631mg of calcium, while 1 cup of milk provides around 300mg. This makes chia seeds an incredible source of calcium for vegans or those following a dairy-free diet.
Chia seeds also contain boron, a trace mineral that helps metabolize calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus to increase the strength of bones, muscles and teeth.
How to eat chia seeds
Now that know the health benefits of chia seeds, it’s time to get cooking… or sprinkling! Chia seeds pack a lot into a small package, so get creative with chia and incorporate them into your daily meals. Here are some of our favourites ways to eat chia seeds:
- Sprinkle chia seeds on salads: Whatever salad you rustle up for lunch or dinner, finish it off with a teaspoon sprinkle of chia seeds. Extra nutrition and extra crunch, minimal effort!
- Add chia seeds to smoothies: We love healthy smoothies as they’re so versatile, and chia seeds make a great addition. Want to try out one of our favourites? Blend 40g of Purition (we use Mac & Vanilla, but any flavour works great) with 200ml milk, a handful of fresh spinach, half an avocado, two teaspoons of chia seeds and a handful of ice. It’s so healthy and refreshing—thank us later!
- Make chia seed pudding: All you need is chia seeds, milk and some maple syrup and you’ve got yourself a healthy yet indulgent pudding! You can top it with chopped fruit, nuts, dark chocolate or whatever else you fancy. Check out our full chia seed pudding recipe.
- Add chia seeds to yoghurt: Sprinkle a teaspoon or two of chia seeds over greek yoghurt or dairy-free yoghurt alternative. For even more flavour and goodness, stir in 40g of your favourite Purition flavour!
- Mix them into porridge: Power up your porridge with some chia seeds nutrition—and throw some Purition into the mix for the ultimate protein porridge!
- Use them as an egg substitute: Can’t eat eggs? Vegan? Chia seeds make an easy and affordable egg substitute! Soak a tablespoon (around 15g) of chia seeds in 2.5 tablespoons (around 45 ml) of water and leave to thicken for at least 5 minutes. It should turn into a thick gel, which can then be used to replace eggs whilst baking.
- Add chia seeds to cakes and bakes: Love baking? Chia seeds work great in home-made cakes, bars and bakes and add a fantastic nutritional boost! Just add a tablespoon to your mixture and bake as you normally would.
Enjoy chia seeds in Purition
Perhaps the easiest ways to enjoy chia seeds benefits is to enjoy a daily glass of Purition. They’re one of our 7 core ingredients and we’re the first UK nutrition company to chia seeds grown in Britain. We would go to all that effort for nothing, so it’s fair to say we’re a big fan of these super seeds!
Purition is an easy breakfast or lunch when you’re pushed for time or simply need healthy, hassle-free food. Every flavour is made with natural, real food ingredients with absolutely nothing artificial — no emulsifiers, additives, gums or preservatives.
High in fibre, protein and healthy fats but low in starch and sugar, we’re certain that Purition can take you closer to reaching your health, fitness or weight-loss goals. Naturally gluten-free and available in both Original and Dairy-Free Vegan.
New to Purition? Find your flavour with a Discovery Box.
We created Purition to help us make life that little bit easier… and healthier! It helps to take the stress out of healthy eating, making it easier to reach your weight-loss, fitness or lifestyle goals. Try it as a high-protein breakfast, a healthy lunch on busy days or to replenish lost nutrients after exercise.
Vegetarian: 70% seeds and nuts, plus whey
Vegan: 70% seeds and nuts, plus plant protein
£13.50 for any 6 flavours, with free and fast UK delivery.