Is there a correlation between the consumption of chia seeds and bloating? And what are the main benefits of this incredible seed? Let’s discover everything about chia seeds (+ 7 incredible recipes)!
Chia seeds a.k.a. Salvia Hispanica
Chia seeds (pronounced as “CHEE-ah”) – also known as Salvia Hispanica – have become one of the most sought-after foods nowadays. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, because this tiny seed is full of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, minerals, and fiber.
However, consuming too many chia seeds – or not adequately using them – can be the cause of bloating and abdominal discomfort.
In this article, we will discover more about the amazing benefits of chia seeds, and learn some useful tricks to avoid.
What are the main benefits of chia seeds?
Chia seeds are packed with nutrients — including fiber, plant-based protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids — that can support your body in a variety of ways.
1. A great plant-based source of omega fatty acids.
Chia seeds are the greatest source of plant-based omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Indeed, they are richer in these compounds than most other plant sources.
Essential fatty acids are critical to forming cell membranes, providing energy to the body, and supporting the immune, and cardiovascular systems. Moreover, omega fatty acids provide health benefits like protecting the heart, promoting healthy blood sugar, and supporting optimal mental health.
Of particular interest to researchers is chia seeds’ high content of alpha-linolenic (ALA) fatty acids. Sixty percent of the oil in chia seeds is from these omega-3 fatty acids. However, available research suggests consuming different types of omega-3-rich foods, rather than just relying on chia seeds alone.
The recommended daily intake of chia seeds is around 2 tablespoons of chia seeds twice per day, provided your digestive system can handle that much fiber. If you experience digestive distress, reduce your intake, and work up to eating more fibrous foods.
2. Chia seeds and weight loss
Chia seeds can be also used to facilitate and promote weight loss. Indeed, chia seeds are rich in insoluble and soluble fiber, which can help in providing a feeling of fullness for a longer period of time and in reducing your appetite. These in turn are useful tools to help lose and maintain body weight.
However, be mindful of the fact that chia seeds are also rich in fats and calories. Therefore, I would recommend using them in moderation, in the context of a well-planned and varied diet. Be also aware of the correlation between overconsumption of chia seeds and bloating (more on that in the next section).
3. Improved digestion
Chia seeds have a quite high fiber content. Indeed, one ounce (28 grams) of the seed contains about 10 grams of (mostly insoluble) fiber. This is between 29% and 45% of the fiber you need in a single day! The most amazing thing is that fiber is a great ally of your gastrointestinal system.
Indeed, most of the chia’s fiber is insoluble, which adds bulk to your stool and helps to move it along the gastrointestinal tract. This prevents constipation and makes it easier to poop 💩.
On the other hand, chia seeds also have some soluble fiber. Soluble fiber has the opposite effect of absorbing and swelling up with water in the stomach to form a thick gel that slows down digestion.
This is why we need a balance of both types of fiber in our diet, and why chia seeds are great to help us achieve it!
All is well and good..if it wasn’t for the fact that the consumption of chia seeds can also have some downsides. In particular, chia seeds can cause bloating and abdominal discomfort, especially if you are consuming too much of it, or if you don’t know how to adequately use the seeds. Let’s discover why and learn some tips on how to avoid it!
Chia Seeds and Bloating: can chia seeds make you bloated?
The answer is (unfortunately) yes! As we have just learned, chia seeds are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber. In particular, due to the high content of soluble fiber, chia seeds have the capacity of absorbing water, up to 15-20 times their weight.
When they pass through the esophagus, they absorb water like a sponge in the intestine area and expand in the stomach. This is what leads to bloating. This is more likely when we consume an excessive amount of seeds, or don’t know how to use them properly!
Here are some tips to avoid feeling discomfort when consuming chia seeds.
First of all, soak your seeds before eating them. Let them rest for a minute, then strain and serve. Don’t forget to stir to break up the lumps before soaking. Allow the seed to absorb all the water and swell before consuming.
Second, increase your chia seeds intake gradually. Start with one teaspoon and increase your daily amount until you reach the recommended daily intake of 2 tablespoons. Make sure to also chew them properly, to break them before they enter your digestive tract. Alternatively, you can also try to blend them before consumption.
All in all, remember that chia seeds are great for your digestive system, and they can even help to debloat your tummy when consumed properly!
For example, you can try a debloat chia seeds drink, which is super popular nowadays! Just add a couple of teaspoons of chia seeds to your coconut water (optional, add some super green powder), stir it well, and consume it as soon as you wake up! And don’t forget to let me know if it works!
Chia Seeds: some nutrition facts
Chia seeds belong to the mint family and are rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Almost 75% are omega-3 fatty acids and about 20% are omega-6.
They also contain various minerals, zinc, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and calcium. Moreover, more than 80% of carbs in chia seeds come in the form of fiber.
100 grams of chia seeds contain about:
- Calories: 486
- Water: 6%
- Protein: 16.5 grams
- Carbs: 42.1 grams
- Sugar: 0 grams
- Fiber: 34.4 grams
- Fat: 30.7 grams
- Saturated: 3.33 grams
- Monounsaturated: 2.31 grams
- Polyunsaturated: 23.67 grams
- Omega-3: 17.83 grams
- Omega-6: 5.84 grams
- Trans: 0.14 grams
Chia Seeds: some interesting facts
- Chia seeds come in two varieties – black and white – with little to no difference in nutritional content.
- The flowers of the chia seed plant are beautiful! All purple and white.
- The word chia originates from the Mexican Maya word meaning “oily” or “strong”.
- Chia seeds can last up to 4 years without storing in a refrigerator.
- Although chia is native to Guatemala and Mexico, today China is the biggest producer followed by Canada.
Ingredient Selection Tips
When purchasing chia seeds, you should place particular attention to their color, weight, and smell.
All ripe seeds can be either black or white. On the other hand, brown seeds are still not ripe. Moreover, ripe seeds weigh less than unripe ones and have a nice and nutty smell.
Chia seeds are an incredibly versatile ingredient! I love to use them as a way to increase the nutritional profile of my smoothies, or as a way to thicken up my oatmeal and smoothie bowls. I even used them to make a quick, no-cooking jam for my pancakes!
Here are some of the healthy and delicious recipes I came up with chia seeds: Strawberry Chia Seeds Pudding, Chia Berry Maple Syrup, Coconut Smoothie Bowl, Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal, Berry and Beet Smoothie, Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oat Parfait, Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oat Parfait.
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