In the Wheat Belly lifestyle, we look for opportunities to add to our prebiotic fiber intake to meet or exceed our target of 20 grams per day. Chia seeds are unusually rich in fiber, around 30-40% fiber by weight, mostly insoluble, around 10% soluble/prebiotic fibers and can add just a bit more prebiotic fiber to your daily intake.
In addition to fiber content, chia seeds contains other beneficial components that include:
- Linolenic acid—This is the plant-sourced form of omega-3 fatty acids. While only a modest quantity is converted to EPA (as in fish), linolenic acid provides unique health benefits of its own. 63% of the fat content of chia is linolenic acid, while 20% is the omega-6 linoleic acid, the remaining oleic (as in olive oil) and saturated fatty acids (which we do NOT avoid or minimize).
- Magnesium—Chia seeds are among the foods richest in magnesium with around 300 mg per 1/2 cup (dry)
- Potassium—Chia seeds contain around 340 mg potassium per 1/2 cup (dry)
- Polyphenols—These are the phytonutrients that provide some of the important benefits of plant foods. Chia is especially rich in kaempferol and quercetin.
Modest metabolic benefits develop with chia seed consumption including a reduction in postprandial (after-meal) blood sugars and modest reduction in blood pressure. While appetite is markedly reduced just by following the Wheat Belly lifestyle (due to elimination of appetite-stimulating gliadin-derived opioid peptides, no restrictions on fat or calorie intake, and no hyper/hypoglycemic blood sugar swings), appetite can be further reduced, satiety increased by consuming chia seed.
Our L. reuteri yogurt that boosts oxytocin levels and thereby yields an age-reversing effect provides a great opportunity to add prebiotic fibers such as inulin or acacia powder or chia seeds. I like to add a teaspoon of inulin and 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to my 1/2-cup of L. reuteri yogurt. If you use whole chia seeds, let it sit for 1-2 minutes to allow the chia seeds to absorb water and soften. Adding chia seeds only provides around 1 gram of prebiotic fibers, but every little bit counts. In addition to adding it to your L. reuteri or other yogurt, you can also add a tablespoon or more to smoothies or shakes. Chia seed also make a wonderful pudding by mixing 1/4 cup ground or whole chia seeds per cup of liquid (coconut milk, half-and-half, almond milk), your choice of sweetener, berries, etc. Mix chia seeds into the liquid well, repeat when seeds have absorbed liquid; the mixture improves in consistency if stored in the refrigerator for a day or two. There are also chia seed-containing commercial drinks; just be careful, as many contain excessive sugar.
Note that ground or milled chia seeds may provide more benefit than whole seeds, probably by making the oils more available for absorption and/or exposure of more of the fiber content.
Just be aware that anyone with allergy to sesame seeds may also be allergic to chia seeds.