What is good for our insides is good for our outsides too. That is why chia seeds are considered as a great option for our skin and hair. Being among the healthiest foods on the planet, they are loaded with nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fibers, essential minerals, and so on. From controlling excess weight to reducing hair loss, these nutrients can help you with almost everything. In today’s post, we will take a look at what this magic ingredient is all about, how the awesome benefits of chia seeds can boost your hair growth, and different ways to use it for your mane.
What are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are tiny white, dark brown, or black seeds of the chia plant or Salvia hispanica, which belongs to the mint family (1). They are flat and ovular in structure and have a smooth and glossy texture. Being native to Mexico and Guatemala, chia seeds were traditionally used by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. But they are becoming more popular around the world of late due to their great nutritional value and versatility. Large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, fibers, proteins, antioxidants, and minerals present in chia seeds make them a superfood, which not only benefits our internal health but also enhances our external appearances. When absorbs liquid, chia seeds form a gel-like substance, which is used as an egg replacement or a natural thickener (2), (3). You can also add soaked chia seeds to porridge, pudding, baked goods, salads, yogurt, and smoothies. They are absorbed by the body as an unprocessed, whole-grain food item (4).
According to Mayan language, the word ‘chia’ means strength (5). Aztec warriors used to consume these seeds for endurance as just one spoonful of them could sustain them for one whole day. The staple food is even used as currency by the Aztecs.
Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds
Here is the nutritional profile of the humble chia seeds:
- The seeds are a rich source of essential fatty acids, which cannot be synthesized in the body and need to be ingested through food. Almost 75% of these fats are omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and 20% are omega-6 fatty acids (6).
- Just like other seeds, chia seeds are rich in high-quality plant-based proteins. They contain nearly 19% protein, which is greater than most other cereals and grains (7). In fact, you can get all 9 essential amino acids from chia seeds
- Consuming chia seeds may deliver you a significant portion of your recommended daily intake of dietary fibers. It has been found that almost 80% of its carbohydrate content is available in the form of insoluble fibers.
- The seeds are a great source of essential minerals like manganese, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium, magnesium, calcium, iron, etc. However, the vitamin content of chia seeds is limited and they contain only vitamins A, B, and C.
- Chia seeds also comprise plenty of beneficial plant compounds like antioxidants, which include chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, quercetin, kaempferol, etc. (8) The amount of antioxidants present in these seeds is more than what you can find in cranberries.
- An ounce of chia seeds contains as low as 138 calories.
- They are absolutely free from gluten.
Chia seeds are known to be the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They have been found to contain even more omega-3 fatty acids than what flax seeds contain (9). But they are not as potent as the omega-3 fatty acid content of fish oil (EPA and DHA).
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Before explaining how chia seeds boost hair growth, let us take a look at the health benefits offered by the ingredient:
- The high dietary fiber content of chia seeds makes them effective in stimulating weight loss. They get swollen by absorbing water in the stomach and suppress appetite by keeping you full for a longer period of time (10). Hence, regular intake of these seeds will not only help you shed those excess kilos but also reduce your belly fat significantly.
- Being packed with insoluble fibers, chia seeds help relieve constipation by slowing down digestion, improving gut health and aiding bowel movement (11).
- An abundance of omega-3 fatty acids and a comparatively lower omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in chia seeds keep our cardiovascular system healthy.
- The anti-inflammatory properties of the seeds help decrease inflammation in the body and keep several chronic conditions like arthritis, metabolic syndrome, etc. away (12).
- The seeds may prevent type 2 diabetes by reducing insulin resistance and regulating blood sugar levels in our body (13).
- Chia seeds are capable of lowering the levels of cholesterol and blood pressure in our body (14). It eventually reduces the risks of hypertension, irregular heartbeat, and coronary heart diseases.
- Plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and alpha-linoleic acid in chia seeds may help you fight against different types of cancer including breast cancer. (15)
- Chia seeds increase your protein intake, which is highly beneficial in losing weight and repairing damaged tissue.
- Antioxidants in chia seeds may protect your cells from oxidative stress, thereby keeping signs of aging at bay (16).
- The tiny seeds are high in vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids, which help in boosting metabolism, sustaining energy, and curbing depression.
When soaked in any fluid (water, milk, etc.), chia seeds absorb it immediately and swell up. In fact, they absorb liquid up to 10 to 12 times of their own weight and develop a gelatinous coating around themselves. This gel-like mass increases the volume of any food in our gastrointestinal tract, thereby keeping us full for a long time.
How Do Chia Seeds Help Hair Growth?
Now, here is how chia seeds improve the health of our hair and give it a gorgeous look:
- Our hair is primarily made of a protein called ‘keratin‘. Consuming protein-rich chia seeds helps in restoring the hair protein in order to make the mane look healthier, thicker, and stronger.
- Copper and zinc are two minerals found in chia seeds that are extremely critical to the health of the hair. Copper helps in cutting down thinning of hair while zinc helps in repairing damage and preventing scalp infections.
- It is found that men and women deficient in omega-3 fatty acids experience more hair loss when compared to those who do not have a deficiency. The essential fatty acids stimulate the hair follicles to induce hair growth. Chia seeds, being rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help control hair loss by overcoming this deficiency. It is also helpful in making the hair lustrous and shiny.
- Loss of iron from the body is one of the major causes of hair loss among women. Intake of chia seeds may restore the iron levels in the body, thus promoting better circulation of blood throughout the scalp and encouraging hair growth.
- The seeds help promote better sleep, which is essential to relieve stress. Once you are free from stress, you can bid goodbye to a number of hair problems naturally.
How to Use Chia Seeds for Hair Growth?
Ingesting chia seeds is the best way to get the maximum benefits from them for your hair. However, you can also use them in your DIY beauty treatments. We tell you about various ways in which you can use the seeds to get great hair:
By Consuming Chia Seeds
- Add a teaspoon of chia seeds to a glass of water or lemonade. Wait for 10 minutes for them to swell up. Drink the mixture soon after.
- Crush chia seeds into a fine powder and add it to your puddings or baked foods.
- You can sprinkle some seeds on your breakfast cereals every morning.
- Use 2 teaspoons of chia seeds gel in your favorite smoothie every day and you will never complain of lackluster hair anymore!
By Applying Chia Seeds to Hair
- Add 2 teaspoons of chia seeds to a cup of water. Leave it for 10 minutes till the seeds swell up. Now, add a teaspoon of lemon juice to it and mix well. Rinse your hair with this concoction to make it strong and glossy.
- Soak 1 teaspoon of chia seeds in 1/4 cup of almond milk or coconut milk. Leave for 10 minutes. Once it turns into a gel-like mass, apply it all over the scalp as a mask. Wait for 10 minutes and wash off with a mild shampoo. The mask will prevent hair loss and make your hair healthier.
Adverse Effects of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are known to have no serious side effects. However, overconsumption of it may lead to gastrointestinal problems like bloating, constipation, hard tools, etc. Hence, start with a very small amount and increase it gradually as your stomach gets adjusted to it. Also, make sure that you consult your doctor before starting a chia seeds diet, especially if you are a pregnant woman, a nursing mother, or a person taking blood-thinning medications.
Chia seeds are tiny white, black, or dark brown seeds of the chia plant, which belongs to the mint family. Being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, dietary fibers, proteins, and essential minerals, these seeds are considered highly nutritious and extremely beneficial for our health. They are also quite good for our hair and can help us improve its health and appearance significantly. You can either consume chia seeds or apply it to your hair for making it healthier, thicker, and shinier.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Much Chia Seeds Should You Eat aDay?
The recommended daily dosage of chia seeds is 1(1/2) tablespoons or 20 grams twice a day.
How Do You Use Chia Seeds for Weight Loss?
Consuming chia seed water can help you with weight loss. Simply add 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to a glass of water and allow them to soak very well for 10-20 minutes. Then, drink it quickly. If you wish, you can add natural sweeteners or flavors to it.
How Much Chia Seeds Should I Eat to Lose Weight?
You may eat 10 gm. to 30 gm. of chia seeds every day based on your individual weight loss requirement.
Can Chia Seeds Get Stuck in Your Intestines?
Dry, whole chia seeds can get stuck in your intestinal lining and cause discomfort as well as bloating. So, it is always advised to have well-soaked chia seeds.
Do You Need to Refrigerate Chia Seeds?
Refrigerating chia seeds may extend their shelf life. It also prevents them from getting oxidized or their volatile oils from getting rancid.
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