The benefits of chia seeds include improved heart, bone and immune health as well as a range of athletic benefits. They're high in anti-oxidants, fibre, protein and good fats. Here's 12 benefits of chia seeds you need to know
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Benefits of chia seeds #1: Hugely nutritious
The nutritional profile of chia seeds is impressive. Just two tablespoons (approx. 28 grams) contains:
- Calories: 138
- Protein: 4.7g
- Fat: 8.7g
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): 5g
- Carbs: 11.9g
- Fiber: 9.8g
- Calcium: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Iron: 12% DV
- Magnesium: 23% DV
- Phosphorus: 20% DV
- Zinc: 12% DV
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 15% DV
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): 16% DV
Benefits of chia seeds #2: Stabilise blood sugar
This is why 33Fuel athletes love our Chia Energy Gels so much. They help runners, cyclists and triathletes maintain stable blood sugar levels so you can say goodbye to spikes in energy and inevitable bonks (goodbye hitting the wall!). This, in turn, reduces the risk of diabetes.
This study concluded chia seeds were "effective in attenuating blood glucose levels" when added to everyday food product.
Benefits of chia seeds #3: Naturally anti-inflammatory
Thanks to that great good fat content, chia seeds are a powerful natural inflammatory which means they reduce the inflammation brought on throughout your body from hard training and racing.
The result? Faster recovery and strong support for your immune system.
Taken during exercise, they can even help this process begin early, letting you reach the finish line in stronger and more comfortable shape.
Benefits of chia seeds #4: Good for heart health
Chia seeds have cardio-protective benefits thanks to their polyunsaturated fat content, high fibre and anti-inflammatory properties. They've also been shown to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive individuals.
Benefits of chia seeds #5: High in antioxidants
Like berries, chia seeds are high in antioxidants - great for heart health
Chia seeds are loaded with natural antioxidants which mop up the free radicals produced in the body during stress - whether that's work, like or exercise stress.
Unchecked, free radicals slow recovery in the short term and have more serious health implications longterm. With their antioxidant content, chia seeds are a great and easy way to clear up these free radicals and reduce risk of aging and diseases like cancer.
Benefits of chia seeds #6: Boost bone health
With a solid 158mg calcium per 25g serving, chia seeds pack roughly the same calcium as milk. They're also high in minerals phosphorus and magnesium which also contribute to bone density.
With a hit of calcium, chia seeds contribute to bone health too
Benefits of chia seeds #7: Improve digestive health
Chia seeds are high in fibre, that wondrous food crucial to optimal gut health. Even just one of our Chia Energy Gels packs 5g fibre.
Benefits of chia seeds #8: Aids weight loss
Chia seeds can absorb up to 10 times their weight in liquid. Once consumed, they absorb water, become gel-like and expand in your stomach. Not only does this slow digestion but also leaves you feeling fuller for longer.
This feeling of fullness is accentuated by chia seeds' relatively high protein content.
Benefits of chia seeds for athletes
Now that we've covered the health benefits of chia seeds, let's delve into the world of sport. Are there particular benefits to athletes?
Benefits of chia seeds for athletes #1: Strong, stable energy
Hell yes baby As we touched on earlier, these seeds are a mighty energy source which naturally deliver that strong, stable energy base aerobic athletes dream of. The sort of base you can comfortably work off for hours, and all without energy-sapping peaks and troughs.
How do chia seeds do this?
It’s all down to them being a whole food (the seeds must be whole, not ground for this to work properly) which the body naturally takes time to digest. As the tiny seeds are digested, the carbs are released in a steady flow. Bingo, stable energy!
They also have a great fibre content which also assists in this energy stabilisation. Some athletes who are not used to using chia seeds are concerned this fibre content will cause stomach issues, but this isn’t the case with chia because it has been proven over hundreds of years as one of the best and most stable endurance foods on the planet.
- The Tarahumara Indians, the tribe of ultrarunning legends at the heart of Christopher McDougall’s seminal running book ‘Born to Run’ have fueled on chia for their long runs forever. This is why.
- Four-time Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington recently came second and then first in her first two ultramarathons fueling throughout with our Chia Energy Gels, a unique gel based on whole chia seeds
- UK ultrarunner Damian Hall a Top 5 place at the legendary Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) with our Chia Energy Gels
- Endurance adventurer Luke Tyburski completed his 12-day, 2,000km solo triathlon from Morocco to Monaco fueling with our Chia Energy Gels throughout too
- Thousands of happy 33Fuel customers have raced, trained and crushed thousands (millions?) of miles worldwide with reviews so awesome its almost embarrassing!
Benefits of chia seeds for athletes #2: Hydration help
Chia seeds absorb a huge amount of liquid, aiding optimal hydration during activity
Add water to chia seeds and they naturally absorb 10-12 times their bodyweight in liquid. When you then digest the seeds, this liquid is naturally released slowly, which helps maintain great hydration naturally.
Benefits of chia seeds for athetes #3: They’re the highest plant-based source of good fats
Absolutely packed with Omega 3 fatty acids, chia seeds are the business when it comes to a clean-burning, powerful fat source in your diet.
Why would you want this? Because increasing the good fat content in your diet is one of the biggest ways of improving your body’s ability to fuel from stored fat which is the foundation on which all aerobic performance is based.
If you’re too dependent on carbohydrates for fuel, then in any endurance event you will need a ton of them. This leads to stomach distress, poor performance and longterm health issues as your body rebels against the high doses of fast carbs.
But if you’re well fat adapted, your carb requirements reduce because you’re able to get more of the calories you need during exercise from your own natural fat stores. Even in a super-lean Tour de France cyclist these stores will power you for days!
Chia seeds in your diet and race fueling strategy provide an awesome way to naturally improve your body’s fuel efficiency, fat metabolism and race day performance.
A quick note: much of chia’s good fat goodness however is contained in the shell of the seed, so make sure you use whole chia seeds - not ground - for full fat benefits.
Benefits of chia seeds #4: Pure protein power
Chia seeds are a total protein powerhouse, quite literally - they contain 18 of the 22 amino acids, including all nine essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and the essential ones are the ones we cannot naturally produce in our bodies so they have to come from our diet. Chia covers this protein hit perfectly.
Packed with protein, chia seeds' benefits just keep delivering
How to eat chia seeds:
- Sprinkle onto salads and deserts
- Blend into smoothies
- Mix a tablespoon in water with a squeeze of lemon for a refreshing drink
- Use our Chia Energy Gels to harness the power of chia for your workouts and races
- Soak overnight in coconut, soy or almond milk for a delicious chia pudding