[Uberfood] Chia Seeds — The Battle-Tested, Lean-Body Powerhouse
It’s hard to overlook anything A) with a nutritional profile as stellar as the one sported by chia seeds (aka Salvia hispanica), or B) that energized legions of ancient Aztec warriors once upon a time. Chia — a plant native to South America, which literally means strength in Mayan — was battle-tested by Aztec and Mayan warriors and served as a wellspring of strength, energy, and stamina.
Chia is the LeBron James of the food realm. It’s an infinitely versatile, all-around, colossal powerhouse, which simultaneously eviscerates hunger, hydrates like a turbocharged internal fountain, literally saves the heart — it’s got TRIPLE the omega-3’s of salmon, for HALF the calories — and runs the gamut of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
You’re literally eating throwback warrior food.
The Myriad, Uber Nutritional Benefits of Chia Seeds
Everything about that picture — It’s a masterpiece that rivals the work of da Vinci. Chia is nutritional density, incarnate. One 70 calorie serving provides 3.6g of omega-3’s, nearly 4g of protein (including all 8 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein), and a whopping 6g of fiber — that’s 1.5x the fiber in a full bowl of oatmeal. ZERO total net carbs, for the carbophobes.
Oozing with omega-3’s — one serving brings a MASSIVE 3.6g of omega-3’s from ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) — that’s more than DOUBLE the recommend DV of 1.3 – 1.6g per day, and TRIPLE what’s in a 3 oz./150 calorie serving of wild salmon. Omega-3’s help prevent all-cause death, heart disease, and inflammatory conditions (like arthritis), aid depression, and boost memory, among other benefits.
Hunger smasher — the triple-threat of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, combined, form the ultimate cocktail to wrangle insatiable hunger. If you’re on a calorie-restricted diet, seemingly ravenous 24/7, or just want to take the edge off, throw a scoop in a glass of water or seltzer. Chug.
Fountain of hydration, ergogenic aid, & hangover cure — chia seeds are highly hydrophilic, meaning they like water and actively absorb it. They’re capable of absorbing up to 9-10x their weight in water when doused, which provides an internal fountain of hydration when ingested, making them a phenomenal pre, post, and intra-workout component to boost strength and endurance (athletes and runners love chia). They’re great for hangovers, too.
Weight loss powerhouse — combine chia’s high protein, fiber, and healthy fat content, propensity to crush hunger, and ability to keep blood sugar/insulin under control, and you’ve got the the perfect storm to galvanize weight-loss and build a lean, strong physique.
Antioxidants — a 2 tbsp. serving has an ORAC score of 1,607 umol — that’s 30% more than blueberries.
Vitamin & mineral dense — Chia packs > 20% of the DV for copper, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus; 11% DV of iron, 8% DV of calcium, and 4% DV of potassium.
Vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and kosher — chia fits in every diet; plus it’s a complete source of protein for vegans.
If you want the quick-and-dirty health and/or performance benefits, feel free to chug a few spoonfuls whole — unlike flax seeds, chia seeds can be eaten whole and don’t need to be ground up to extract the nutritional benefits.
They’re great for adding bulk to smoothies and shakes, mix well with oatmeal and yogurt, and turn gelatinous in water/seltzer for a kombucha-esque, energy-boosting, hunger-crushing spritzer. Throw ’em in a PB&J, omelette, or bowl of cereal — go CRAZY, you’re getting a massive shot of nutrition whenever you’re able to squeeze a few in.
I use and highly recommend Salba Chia or Navitas Naturals Chia.
Follow Lean It UP on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for real-time fitness/nutrition tips, advice, info and updates.
References, Notes, Links
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto.
I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP
, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid
, and all-around fitness junkie.
I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine
When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses
and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.
Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO)
& Snapchat (BRYDISANTO)
Latest posts by Bryan DiSanto (see all)