Does this superfood really live up to the hype?
Chia seeds have been the words on everyone’s lips (and the food in everyone’s smoothies) in recent years. But while it may be tempting to pass them off as just another food fad, there are actually plenty of amazing benefits to back up their popularity.
Not only are these superfoods nutrient-dense, they are also really versatile. Since they are so small and fairly neutral-tasting, they can easily be added to healthy pre-workout snacks like yoghurt and granola or smoothies. You can also make chia pudding, by soaking them in water or milk in the fridge for a couple of hours or more.
We asked the experts for their insights into the benefits of chia seeds, and found out exactly why they are the perfect food for fitness fans.
They aid muscle recovery
“Chia is the ancient Mayan word for strength”, explains holistic nutritionist and health coach Cheryl Telfer – and for good reason. These little seeds are packed with protein, “a macro nutrient which is essential for helping to repair and rebuild muscles”. In fact, “each seed contains about 14% protein”, so they’re great for encouraging healthy muscle function during your workout, as well as successful recovery afterwards.
Brielle Merchant is a Certified Health Education Specialist and a Registered Yoga Teacher, and she explains that they are also “rich in magnesium and phosphorus”. These are similarly crucial to the healthy development of your muscles.
In addition to aiding muscle development, protein and magnesium are great at producing energy. Since they contain high quantities of both, chia seeds are perfect for giving you a pre-workout boost.
They are a great source of soluble fibre
Chia seeds are full of soluble fibre, which is one of the big reasons why Brielle is so keen on them as a fitness-boosting food. Fibre “keeps you full throughout the day”, she says, which is particularly important when you’re fitting in a workout. It can help to sustain you while you’re hitting the weights or throwing yourself into a long run.
Soluble fibre also “helps feed the good bacteria in our gut”, according to Cheryl. This supports our digestive functions and helps out our immune systems, “which is imperative for overall health”.
They are good for your heart health
As well as the more immediate benefits chia seeds have on your fitness, they are also great for your cardiovascular health. As Brielle explains, they are a good food to incorporate into your diet if “you are looking to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease”. This is because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, having a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids has the potential to decrease a person’s cardiovascular mortality risk by between 17% and 40%.
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