Chia is a plant that is native to South America and held on a special place in ancient civilizations like the Aztec and Maya. However, chia first became known in modern times as the growing hair that covered statues of animals and celebrities. The plant has now come full circle and people are once again appreciating the wealth of vital nutrients and health benefits contained within its seeds. Here are some health benefits of chia seed that you may have never thought about before.

The Top 5 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Weight Loss

Chia seeds are a nutritional powerhouse that pack over a quarter of the recommended daily intake of several nutrients, including manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. All those nutrients come with only 137 calories, which makes chia seeds a perfect weight-loss food. Chia seeds also contain 11 grams of hunger-fighting fiber. That way you can feel full longer and have less of a desire to binge eat.

Muscle Building

Chia seeds are 14% protein. They also contain the full range of amino acids, which is rare for a plant food. All that protein means chia seeds help build muscle tissue and prevent atrophy in existing muscles. They are a great option for vegetarians who have trouble incorporating high-quality protein into their diets. These seeds are also great for those who are really trying to gain muscle and get into shape.

Increased Athletic Performance

Historians have noted that the ancient Aztecs and Mayans ate chia seeds before battles and athletic competitions. This is because Chia seeds have the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and nutrients to fuel your body and keep you going strong. One study demonstrated that chia seeds had the same effect on athletic performance as sports drinks.

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Brain Boost

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain function and chia seeds pack a lot of them, even more than fish like salmon and tuna. Mix a handful of chia seeds into your morning cereal or smoothie to keep your brain sharp throughout the day. This can be especially helpful if you are preparing for a big exam.

Prevent Age-Related Diseases

Chia seeds have been proven in multiple studies to improve blood markers that are associated with age-related diseases like heart disease and diabetes. The fiber and omega-3 fatty acids contained in chia seeds lower triglycerides and bad cholesterol while raising good cholesterol.

The many antioxidants contained in chia seeds reduce free radicals in the body, which lowers your risk of cancer. Another age-related disease that chia seeds help prevent is osteoporosis. The balance of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus they contain strengthens bones.

These are just a few of the benefits that come with incorporating chia seeds into your diet. Other advantages include increased energy, stronger hair and nails and clearer skin. Chia seeds are easy to incorporate into your diet; toss a spoonful into your smoothie or top a salad with them. There is definitely no easier way to stay happy and healthy.