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Chia Seeds & Their Benefits

Chia seeds, most popularly known as the sprouted hair of a Chia Pet, have been used medicinally and as a food source for centuries by the ancient Mayans, Incas and Aztecs. This "superfood" was considered so powerful that it was believed to be more valuable than gold. Chia seeds are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and protein. Aside from chia being a nutritious food source, it may also help balance blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol.

Description

Chia, or Salvia hispanica, is a flowering plant native to Mexico and Guatemala that grows over 3 feet tall. Chia has purple and white flowers that form a cluster at the end of each stem where the seeds are found in clumps. Chia seeds are the most important part of the plant and are what is used as a nutrition source. These seeds contain calcium, boron and iron; have three times more antioxidant power than blueberries; and are considered a complete protein, states NaturalNews.com.

Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Fiber

Chia seeds are a nutritional powerhouse, full of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. Chia seeds, unlike flaxseeds, are readily available without having to grind them first and can be stored for longer periods of time without them turning rancid. One serving of chia seeds can provide you with one-third of the amount of fiber recommended for the entire day. Due to their high content of omega-3s and fiber, chia seeds may help you lose weight. They can help you stay fuller longer and help your body eliminate any unnecessary toxins.

Blood Glucose and Lipid Balancer

Chia seeds may have the ability to stabilize blood sugar levels. When eaten, chia seeds form a gel inside your stomach during digestion that slows down the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar. This allows your body to feel satiated for longer periods of time, gives it more constant energy, and eliminates blood sugar spikes. Chia seeds may also stabilize your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In a study published in the January 2009 issue of "The British Journal of Nutrition," researchers found that consuming chia seeds can help prevent high cholesterol and high triglycerides as well as reduce the amount of overall fat accumulation.

Fluid and Electrolyte Stabilizer

Chia seeds have hydrophilic, or water-loving, properties that make them an effective fluid and electrolyte stabilizer. According to the website Living and Raw Foods, chia seeds have the ability to absorb 12 times their weight in water. Therefore, eating chia seeds could help you maintain more nutrients and regulate your bodily fluids, eliminating the possibility of dehydration. Since chia seeds keep you hydrated, they may be a great addition to your diet, especially if you are an athlete or an avid exerciser.

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.