The main benefits of chia seeds come from the high concentration of nutrients they contain. A 1-ounce serving has 136 calories, 4.6 grams of protein, 11.8 grams of carbohydrates, and 8.6 grams of fat, almost all of which is healthy unsaturated fat. Mix a tablespoon of chia seeds with water to serve as a replacement for an egg in baked goods, or add the seeds to yogurt, cereal or a smoothie to give yourself a nutrient boost.
High in Fiber
Chia seeds are high in fiber, with each 2-tablespoon serving providing 9.6 grams, or 38 percent of the daily value, or DV. Eating the recommended amount of dietary fiber may help lower your risk for constipation, high cholesterol, heart disease and obesity, as well as help control your blood sugar levels. In a study published in April 2010 in the "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition," participants who ate bread containing chia seeds experienced lower after-meal blood sugar levels and decreases in appetite.
Increases Omega-3 Fats
These little seeds are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for keeping your heart and brain healthy. A study published in "Plant Foods for Human Nutrition" in June 2012 looked at the effects of consuming chia seeds on omega-3s. Researchers found that participants ingesting 25 grams of chia seeds per day for seven days experienced a 138-percent increase in alpha-linolenic acid and a 30-percent increase in eicosapentaenoic acid, both of which are omega-3 fatty acids.
Contains Niacin and Thiamine
Each 2-tablespoon serving of chia seeds provides 12 percent of the DV for niacin and thiamine. These B vitamins are important for turning the food you eat into energy and keeping your brain and nervous system functioning properly.
Source of Selenium
The mineral selenium acts as an antioxidant to limit cell damage from free radicals and also helps your body absorb vitamin E. Each serving of chia seeds contains 15.5 micrograms of selenium, or 22 percent of the DV.
Increases Iron Intake
You need iron to form red blood cells and carry oxygen throughout your body. Eating 2 tablespoons of chia seeds gives you 2.2 milligrams of iron, or 12 percent of the DV.
Calcium helps build strong bones, and it also plays a role in blood clotting and muscle and nerve function. Each serving of chia seeds has 176.7 milligrams of calcium, or 18 percent of the DV.
Source of Manganese
Manganese is essential for metabolizing carbohydrates, forming bones and regenerating red blood cells. A 2-tablespoon serving of chia seeds contains 0.8 milligrams of manganese, or 38 percent of the DV.
Your body needs phosphorus to form DNA and strong bones and to store energy. Chia seeds provide 240.8 milligrams, or 24 percent of the DV, in each serving.
Source of Magnesium
Magnesium is important for metabolism, as well as for muscle and nerve function. A serving of chia seeds provides 98.3 milligrams, or 23 percent of the DV.
You need copper to keep your nerves healthy and to form red blood cells and strong bones. You'll get 0.3 milligrams of copper, or 13 percent of the DV, in each serving of chia seeds.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: What Are Chia Seeds?
- Health-Alicious-Ness.com: Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool
- University of Arizona Extension: Dietary Fiber
- Colorado State University Extension: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Plant Foods for Human Nutrition: Supplementation of Milled Chia Seeds Increases Plasma ALA and EPA in Postmenopausal Women
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Reduction in Postprandial Glucose Excursion and Prolongation of Satiety: Possible Explanation of the Long-Term Effects of Whole Grain Salba (Salvia Hispanica L.)
- Food and Agriculture Organization: Essential Nutrients - Minerals
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)