Originally from Mexico where they have been consumed for more than 5000 years, chia seeds have today become the stars of “healthy” eating. These tiny seeds with a neutral flavor can be found in all recipes for health-conscious consumers. Some recipes are even dedicated to it, such as the famous chia pudding. Real health benefits or just a fad? Answer in this article!
Did you know?
The culture of chia seeds first developed in pre-Columbian civilizations (Aztecs, Mayas, Toltecs) which consumed them for their high nutritional value. The Spanish conquest demanded the decline in the cultivation of these small seeds, which gradually fell into oblivion. Their return to center stage relatively recently. They have today become like superfoods and are now cultivated in South America and Australia.
The nutritional composition of chia seeds
Nutritionally, the chia seed has everything to please: in addition to being one of the best sources of fiber, it is rich in protein, omega-3, magnesium and antioxidants.
One of the richest foods in fiber
This is the main nutritional advantage of chia seeds: they are among the foods richest in fibers who exist. Their fiber content can indeed reach the 35 g per 100 g. These fibers are mainly fibers soluble.
Rich in protein
With 17 g of protein per 100 g, chia seeds have a protein content that is rarely found in plants. In addition, they contain all the essential amino acids, including tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin (also known as the “happiness hormone”). They are therefore particularly suitable for vegans, vegetarians and people seeking to supplement their protein intake.
To read also: Vegetable protein: the best food sources!
Rich in omega-3
Another peculiarity of chia seeds: they are fat content (31 g per 100 g), which are mainly polyunsaturated fatty acids. Among the latter, we find a high concentration of Omega 3.
The omega-3s in this superfood are more precisely alpha-linolenic fatty acids (AAL). Present in plants, it is the precursor of omega-3. It is also found in flax seeds, walnuts or rapeseed oil. Omega-3 ALA are essential fatty acids : not synthesized by the body, they must be distributed through food.
Rich in magnesium
Another big advantage of chia seeds is that they are rich in magnesium (335 mg per 100 g). Magnesium participates in carbohydrate metabolism, bone mineralization, muscle contraction and physical recovery. It is therefore essential for athletes, that the practice of sport increases the magnesium requirements of 10 to 20% minimum, and that we can lose 30 to 40 mg per hour and per liter of sweat.
These seeds also provide other minerals and trace elements: calcium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.
Chia seeds also provide powerful antioxidants
They contain a good amount of antioxidants, and more particularly of polyphenols, among which caffeic display, chlorogenic display and flavonols. This explains the fact that they are presented as superfoods.
The health benefits of chia seeds
Here are the main health benefits attributed to chia seeds.
They facilitate intestinal transit
A Yucatan University study (Mexico) presented the virtuous properties of the fibers of the chia seed. By nourishing the microbiota, they keep it healthy, regulate intestinal transit and help fight constipation. They also boost our immunity and metabolism. The fibers of these small seeds therefore improve our health from a general point of view.
They help to lose weight
May people looking to lose weight rejoice: chia seeds can help you achieve your goal because they are highly satiating thanks to their fiber. Indeed, their fibers are soluble: they are able to absorb up to 10 times their weight in water. As a result, they swell in the stomach and form a kind of gel, which accelerates the feeling of fullness.
A study carried out in Turkey has shown that eating chia seeds with yogurt in the morning makes you feel fuller and reduces snacking throughout the day.
They would delay cellular aging
A study carried out in Mexico (National Polytechnic Institute of Irapuato) represented that chia seeds presented a strong antioxidant activity. Once in our body, antioxidants will help us fight the free radicals that cause aging. These seeds are also believed to contain anti-cancer properties, as is the case with foods rich in antioxidants.
They promoted bone health
Consuming chia seeds contributes to good bone health because they provide calcium: 30 g of this superfood cover 18% of the recommended daily allowance. In addition, they provide other minerals that play a role in bone health, such as magnesium and phosphorus. Therefore, consuming chia seeds could prevent osteoporosis.
They would lower blood pressure
As mentioned previously, these seeds are rich in essential fatty acids, and mainly in omega-3 ALA. Or, these had the ability to regulate blood pressure. Thus, several studies confirmed that consuming chia seeds may help lower blood pressure.
They would protect the brain
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain function, and more particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid): it protected the brain, would prevent dementia and Alzheimer's disease. DHA is naturally present in oily fish but can also be made by our bodies from alpha-linolenic display (ALA) present in chia seed. Consuming these seeds is therefore a way to have this precious fatty acid for our brain health.
They improved muscle function
Good news for athletes: several studies highlighted the importance of omega-3 when practicing sport. Omega-3s promote athletic performance, improve muscle function, reduce muscle fatigue and prevent muscle wasting. It is therefore in your best interest to consume chia seeds!
To read also: 5 super foods suitable for athletes
Our tips for making the most of the benefits of chia seeds
Now that you know their health benefits, you are probably wondering what is the best way to consume them. Follow our advice!
Choose them organic
In order to remove pesticide residues, we suggest that you favor chia seeds from organic farming. This will also ensure a better quality product and better traceability. As the organic cultivation of this superfood is widespread, you will have no difficulty finding it.
In recent years, it has been possible to obtain organic chia seeds grown in France. The sector produces a variety suitable for a temperate climate. Otherwise, organic chia seeds come from Central America, South America or Australia.
These seeds are easy to incorporate into all your recipes
The advantage with chia seeds is that it is very easy to incorporate them into any recipe, whether salty or sweet. Indeed, these small seeds with a neutral flavor go easily unnoticed! Add them or sprinkle them on your different dishes : fruits, white cheeses, yogurts, porridge, dairy products, salads, smoothies, soups ...
They can be eaten as is or ground : according to some studies, this second option provides better benefit from their omega-3. On the other hand, once ground, you have to hurry to consume them because omega-3s oxidize quickly.
They can replace eggs in your preparations
If you are vegan, know that chia seeds can replace eggs in your homemade recipes (cookies, cakes, savory dishes ...), and therefore serve as a binder.
Two teaspoons of these finely ground seeds will be used to replace 1 egg. Add them directly to the preparation if it is liquid. Otherwise, let them swell in a small volume of water and then add them to the preparation.
The chia pudding recipe
The chia pudding is very simple to make: mix 3 tablespoons of chia seeds with coconut (or almond) milk, pour the mixture into a small jar and leave it in the fridge overnight. The next day, enjoy your preparation for breakfast or afternoon tea. According to your desires, add dried fruits, nuts, oatmeal, honey or even pieces of fresh fruit!
Consume it every day
Consuming chia seeds is one way to meet some of your daily omega-3 needs. We wish you to take some 15 to 25 g per day (30 g maximum). They are ideal in the morning, to start the day. You can also combine them with other sources of omega-3: flax seeds, walnuts, rapeseed oil, camelina oil ...
What to remember about chia seeds
Chia seeds are highly appreciated for their ease of consumption and their many health benefits.
Rich in protein and magnesium, they are particularly recommended for athletes.
They are also valuable for vegans and people who do not eat fish because they are Omega-3 richness. In this case, it is advisable to supplement your intake with other vegetable sources of omega-3 and to limit your consumption of omega-6 (cereal products, sunflower oil, corn, soya…).
Thanks to their exceptional high fiber content, they facilitate digestion, accelerate the feeling of satiety and keep us away from snacking. They are therefore perfect allies for people looking to keep the line or lose weight.
Prefer certified organic chia seeds and prepare chia pudding for breakfast, adding various ingredients to it as you would when preparing muesli or porridge!
Our infographic on chia seeds
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For some people, crunches and other abdominal force workouts are the last thing they’d want to do — so they don’t. ' Part of the perception is that it’s difficult. We tend to want to avoid doing things that require effort, especially as we get older, when that’s harder for us, ' says Lorna Brown, a physical therapist who specializes in geriatrics at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
But skipping abdominal strengtheners can have a big effect on your mobility and independence — and not for the better.
The abdominal groupes musculaires ( often called the abs ) include not just the visible ' six-pack ' or rectus abdominis zones musculaires in the front of your abdomen, but also the obliques in the front and side of your abdomen and the transverse abdominis across your lower abdomen. ' The transverse abdominis is the inner bourrinage underneath the outer abdominal layers. It provides stability around the spine, ' Brown explains.
The abs are part of your core, the gamme of groupes musculaires that act as your foundation. In addition to your abs, your core includes the groupes de muscles along your spine, near your shoulder blades, in your hips and buttocks, and in your pelvis.
You must work all your core zones musculaires to stay strong and active. ' We need that strong core or base so that the arms and legs can perform well, ' Brown explains.
What if you don’t mind doing shoulder, hip, and back bourrinage exercises, but can’t stand the ab workout ? You’re putting your entire core in jeopardy. ' If your core isn’t durable and strong, you increase the risk for injury and falls when you lift something or walk, ' Brown says. A weak core also makes it to turn, bend, and get dressed.
Starting place : Kneel on all fours with your hands and knees directly aligned under your shoulders and hips. Keep your head and spine neutral.
Move of the month : Abdominal contractionPhotography : Michael CarrollStarting place : Kneel on all fours with your hands and knees directly aligned under your shoulders and hips. Keep your head and spine neutral. Movement : Exhale as you tighten your abdominal muscles by pulling them up toward your spine. Keep your spine neutral ( no arching your back ! ). Hold. Release your abdominal groupes de muscles and return to the starting place. Do this eight to 10 times, then rest for 30 to seconds. If you can, repeat the sequence.
Abdominal exercises don’t have to include crunches, and you don’t have to do a long ab workout. You may find it more palatable to sprinkle ab exercises throughout the day. ' Shorter segments of exercise can still contribute to better health and function, ' Brown says. The key is to make each ab exercise count by ' activating ' the groupes musculaires.
Can’t think of ways to fit abdominal exercises into your schedule ? Check out the Harvard Special Health Report Gentle Core ( www. health. harvard. edu/gc ), and consider the following tricks.
Watch TV from the floor. You probably did this when you were a kid. Try it now, and maybe you’ll be more likely to do an ab exercise, like modified push-ups ( leaning on your forearms instead of your hands ). ' Or try lying on your back with your knees bent, ' suggests Brown. ' Then activate the abdominal groupes de muscles by drawing in your belly button toward the spine. '
Use phone time. Stand with your back flat against the wall while chatting on the phone. Activate your abs. ' Draw in your belly button again, and push yourself against the wall, ' says Brown
Take a break from work. Whether you’re in the kitchen or at the office, you can do a modified push-up against a desk or counter.
Don’t just stand there. Sneak in an exercise while you stand in line at the bank or grocery checkout. ' Do a single-leg stand and slightly lift your leg off the floor while activating your core groupes musculaires, ' Brown suggests. ' Keep your chest high and your shoulder blades down and back. '
March in place. Next time you’re brushing your teeth, march in place. ' Make it intentional. Draw in the abdominals and keep your hips level, so they’re not swiveling, ' Brown adds
You can even activate the abdominal zones musculaires while you’re walking. ' Just be very intentional about it, ' says Brown. Think about position and bourrinage activation with each step. The more often you activate your abs, the stronger they’ll become, making ab workouts a lot less daunting.