‘Nutrient density’ is really gaining momentum these days and for good reason. Why wouldn’t you want to prioritize foods that provide you with the most nutritional value in your diet? Flooding your diet with foods that overdeliver you body with what it needs will make it perform and look it’s best.
This tiny seed has an impressive nutritional resume. The chia seed is most famous for being hawked as a novelty product to the tune of ‘ch-ch-ch-chia!’, but long before, chia seeds were a superfood hailed by ancient Aztec armies. In more recent years, the seeds of the Salvia hispanica plant native to Mexico are experiencing a renaissance as a bona fide functional food and unlike some flash in the pan type foods, chia lives up to all the hype.
Here are some science backed reasons why you should join the chia revolution, as well as a simple, chia packed recipe.
1) Fantastic Fiber
One of the biggest nutritional parts of chia seeds is the high levels of dietary fiber. A mere tablespoon serving delivers around 5 grams which can be significant for many people who struggle to reach their daily quota of 38g for men and 25 g for women.
As well as helping you feel full, fiber can help you live longer because fiber intake has close links to your risk of developing heart disease, the leading cause of death in the world. It also has a powerful impact on improving blood glucose and cholesterol levels which are additional reasons why it’s such a powerful ally in disease prevention.
2) Amazing Antioxidants
Chia seeds also come loaded with disease fighting antioxidants, they search the body for cell-damaging free radicals to dispose of. No antioxidant can eliminate all free radicals but in trying to do so, antioxidants are thought to also help reduce the risk for a number of chronic diseases. Since intense exercise can accelerate the production of free radicals, upping your intake of antioxidant-rich edibles like chia could theoretically improve recovery for better fitness gains.
3) Protein Packed
Everybody knows that protein is essential to performance and recovery and for the sake of a tiny tablespoon of seeds, you can have 3g of complete protein. It has all nine essential amino acids and whilst you won’t hit your daily intake with seeds on their own, they can really help boost your total, especially if prioritizing vegetarian sources.
4) Mega Madness
There are not many foods that can hold a candle to chia seeds when it comes to plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is not as powerful in it’s health-hiking potential as the longer-chain omega fats present in fatty fish like salmon, it is still a powerful addition to your diet with many benefits.
An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study published in 2016 discovered that people with higher levels of ALA in their fat stores were less likely to suffer with insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a major risk factor for several diseases and by reducing insulin resistance, it is likely type-2 diabetes, heart disease and body-fat gain risks will reduce as a result. A number of studies have found that the regular consumption of chia can work to improve blood-sugar control.
5) Mighty Minerals
Chia seeds are an excellent source of important minerals such as iron and calcium but also magnesium (23 and 31 percent of daily recommended intakes for females and males respectively) and manganese (30% of your daily requirement). You are probably pretty well-up on the benefits of the former two but you may be surprised to learn how much of an impact manganese and magnesium can have on your gym performance.
Magnesium has a role in hundreds of enzymatic reactions including those involved with muscular contraction, protein synthesis and energy production. It also positively impacts your sleep which is vital for your continued gym gains.
Manganese also has a critical role to play in blood-sugar control, protein and carbohydrate metabolism and especially the production and activation of the enzymes responsible for carrying out gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is the production of glucose from noncarbohydrate sources. This method of producing fuel becomes increasingly important the longer your sessions are, as you deplete your circulating and stored glucose (glycogen) levels.
Recommended Daily Allowance
Males Females Chia Seed (1 OZ.)
Magnesium 400mg 310mg 243 mg
Manganese 2.3mg 1.3mg 0.6mg
If you are ready to give these power-packed seeds a try then check out the recipe below.
Chia seeds are often added to overnight oat recipes since they do such a good job of soaking up excess liquid to keep the mixture from going soggy, the end result here is a dish that proves breakfast is great at any time of the day.
These oats are ready to help you recover as soon as your workout ends. Soaking the oats removes the need to cook them, making this recipe a great option for transporting with you if you’re going to be away from the kitchen after exercise and you don’t want to delay refuelling. The recipe can also be altered easily if you’re dairy free, gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian.
PB & Berry Protein Oats
Prep time = 10 minutes
1/2 Cup of rolled oats.
1/2 Cup of vanilla or plain protein powder.
2 Tbsp of chia seeds.
1/4 Tsp of cinnamon.
2/3 Cup low fat milk.
1 Tbsp of peanut butter.
1/4 Cup fresh or frozen raspberries.
1/4 Tsp optional vanilla extract.
- Using a wide-mouthed half-pint glass jar, layer in the oats, protein powder, chia seeds and cinnamon.
- Stir in milk and vanilla if using.
- Top with peanut butter and raspberries.
- Seal shut and chill for two or more hours or up to three days.
Other Game Changers
- Use oats labeled ‘gluten-free’ or try spelt, kamut or quinoa flakes instead of oats.
- Replace protein powder with a 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt and decrease milk to 1/2 cup.
- To make it dairy-free, use a plant-based protein powder and non-dairy milk.
- Try topped with strawberries or blackberries instead of raspberries.
Serving size = 1 jar and recipe yields 1 serving.
Calories – 436.
Clearly adding chia seeds to your diet has many benefits that could help your workout and body immensely. Check out the 3-week diet that has some people losing upto 23 pounds!