15 Surprising Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

These little seeds are small but mighty.

chia seeds
Aniko HobelGetty Images

Chia seeds are tiny black and white seeds from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. These little seeds are small, but they sure are mighty. Not only can they be enjoyed in a variety of dishes, but chia seeds also come packed with a slew of health benefits. Here are 15 surprising health benefits of chia seeds.

bowls of chia, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, flax sesame and hemp seeds on a table
OatmealStoriesGetty Images
1 of 15
Are a Complete Protein

As noted by Harvard Health, chia seeds are a complete protein and contain all nine essential amino acids that cannot be made by the body. Other examples of complete proteins are animal-based foods like dairy, eggs, fish, meat, and poultry while plant-based options include buckwheat, edamame, and quinoa.

close up of chia seeds in spoon and table
Supaporn Manbunsom / EyeEmGetty Images
2 of 15
Contains Amino Acids

A surprising health benefit of chia seeds is that they provide a variety of endogenous amino acids, a type that you need for energy production and immune function within the body. Your body The type of amino acids you’ll get from chia include glutamic and aspartic acids, alanine, serine, and glycine.

chia seed pudding with fresh friut
zeljkosantracGetty Images
3 of 15
Filled with Dietary Fiber

Chia seeds are a great form of dietary fiber. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, chia seeds contain about 10 grams per ounce (about 2 tablespoons) and dietary fiber can help promote feelings of satiety. Satiety means less mindlessly munching and snacking, which means you may even avoid eating extra calories throughout the day. Potential weight loss, anyone?

chia pudding, blackberry in coconut shell
TolimirGetty Images
4 of 15
Excellent Source of Antioxidants and Polyphenols

Another surprising health benefit of chia seeds is they are an excellent source of antioxidants and polyphenols such as caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, rosmarinic acid, and others. Antioxidants are substances that may protect your cells against free radicals, which may play a role in cancer, heart disease, and other diseases, while polyphenols are beneficial plant compounds with antioxidant properties that may help keep you healthy and protect against various diseases.

spoon of chia seeds
Westend61Getty Images
5 of 15
Has Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Chia seeds contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fat and, according to Harvard Health, have been shown to help prevent heart disease and stroke. Omega-3 fatty acids may also help control eczema, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. They may even play protective roles in cancer and other conditions.

chia pudding with fruits and granola
KarinaUrmantsevaGetty Images
6 of 15
High in Heart-Healthy Fats

Not only do chia seeds have omega-3 fatty acids, but they also contain heart-healthy fats. The Mayo Clinic writes that one serving of chia seeds contains 9 grams of fat, of which 8 grams are heart-healthy fats. Chia seeds definitely pack a nutritional punch.

wooden spoon with chia seeds and blueberries on marble counter
Cavan ImagesGetty Images
7 of 15
Includes Minerals

Chia seeds also have minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Calcium and magnesium help maintain healthy bones while zinc is essential for cell division and growth. It is also an essential element needed to support the body's immune system. Instead of supplements and vitamins, reach for a sprinkle or two of chia seeds at your next meal.

two fresh salad bowls
fcafotodigitalGetty Images
8 of 15
Is a Plant-Based Protein

Chia seeds are a great plant-based protein option. With 5 grams of protein per serving, chia seeds can add protein to almost any recipe. Add them to a glass of water for a homemade chia fresco or sprinkle them onto cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt. You can even include them in salads, sandwiches, and other dishes like rice or vegetables. Chia seeds also pair particularly well with baked goods like bread.

chia seed pudding with fresh berries for the breakfast
kajakikiGetty Images
9 of 15
Low in Calories

Chia seeds can add a low calories crunch to any meal or snack. In fact, just one ounce (28 grams or two tablespoons) of chia seeds contains only 138 calories.

Alicia LlopGetty Images
10 of 15
May Help Improve Cardiovascular Health

Emerging research suggests that including chia seeds as part of a healthful eating style may help improve cardiovascular risk factors such as lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides. If you are looking to improve heart health, grab some chia seeds.

homemade strawberry jam with chia seeds
Westend61Getty Images
11 of 15
May Lower LDL (Bad Cholesterol)

The fiber in chia seeds is mainly soluble fiber and mucilage, the substance responsible for the gluey texture of moistened chia seeds. According to Harvard Health, these fibers may help to lower LDL cholesterol and slow down digestion, which can prevent blood sugar spikes after eating a meal and promote a feeling of fullness.

fresh healthy blueberries raspberries and chia seeds smoothie
fomentGetty Images
12 of 15
May Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

Consuming chia seeds may help with blood sugar regulation, possibly due to their fiber content and other beneficial compounds. A 2013 study found that eating bread containing chia seeds helped lower post-meal rises in blood sugar among healthy adults, compared with eating bread without chia seeds. Baked bread with crunchy chia seeds, anyone?

chia seeds over white background
Ivaylo Ivanov / EyeEmGetty Images
13 of 15
May Support Bone Health

Chia seeds contain calcium and phosphorus as well as magnesium. All three of these minerals have been known to help support optimal bone health. Many observational studies even suggest that getting enough of these nutrients is important for maintaining good bone mineral density, which is an indicator of bone strength.

chia pudding made of chia seeds with almond milk and raspberries
Westend61Getty Images
14 of 15
Protects Against Colorectal Cancer

As you already read, chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, which can promote intestinal health. The Mayo Clinic notes that eating a diet rich in fiber also is shown to protect against colorectal cancer.

jar of chia pudding topped with fresh strawberries
OatmealStoriesGetty Images
15 of 15
Provides Constipation Relief

The fiber in chia seeds is mostly insoluble fiber, which is a type of fiber that does not dissolve in fluids, notes The Cleveland Clinic. Instead, insoluble fiber absorbs fluids and helps create bulky, soft stools. If you suffer from bouts of being backed up and are constantly constipated, chia seeds have the right kind of fiber to loosen your poop and give you some constipation relief.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Ashley Martens is a Wellness Writer based in Chicago, Illinois.
More From Health & Nutrition