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Long before the Ch-ch-ch-chia pet of the 1980’s, the Aztecs and the Mayans used chia seeds as a staple of their everyday diets, alongside corn and beans. “Chia” is the Mayan word for strength, and these ancient peoples understood the important health benefits of these seeds.
The Mayans would grind chia seeds into flour, press them for oil, and drink them mixed with water. Ancient people considered these seeds magical due to their ability to increase stamina and energy for long periods of time. However, once the Spanish conquered Latin America, they introduced their own foods and prohibited the farming of chia.
However, chia seeds have recently made a comeback in modern diets as researchers have discovered the hidden benefits from this ancient super seed. Here are just seven of the various reasons you should add this superfood to your diet today.
1. Pack in your fiber.
The American Dietetic Association recommends 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day, yet most people only consume about half of that. Chia seeds deliver almost 50% of your necessary daily intake, with 11 grams of fiber per ounce. Fiber is necessary for ultimate health, but especially for digestion and weight loss.
2. Trim the fat.
Chia seeds absorb up to 12 times their weight and expand in your stomach, making you feel full and curbing your appetite. Chia seeds help reduce your caloric intake by filling you up and helping lower the energy density of certain foods — ultimately, assisting greatly in weight loss.
3. Get your omega-3s.
Chia seeds are a concentrated sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and they actually have more omega-3s than salmon. Omega-3s are critical for brain health, and chia contains five grams per one ounce serving.
4. Build your bones.
One ounce of chia seeds has 18 percent of the recommended daily intake of calcium. Chia seeds can help promote better bone and oral health.
5. Boost heart health.
Studies have shown that chia seeds can improve blood pressure and increase healthy cholesterol while lowering bad cholesterol. Chia seeds can help you maintain a healthy heart — a crucial element of your health.
6. Get your phosphorus.
Your body uses phosphorus to synthesize protein and repair cells and tissues. Chia seeds contain 27 percent of your daily value of phosphorus, and can help your body heal and repair itself faster!
7. Fill up faster.
Tryptophan, the amino acid that's popularly known for making you sleepy, is also found in chia seeds. Not only will it make you want to take a nap, but it also helps regulate appetite, sleep and improve mood.
There are plenty of ways that chia seeds can benefit your overall health, and it’s no wonder that the ancient Aztecs and Mayans regularly consumed them. Adding chia to your diet can be a great way to help with weight loss and get your daily vitamins and nutrients!