Chia seeds are becoming more and more common throughout the world, but did you know this seed has incredible health benefits? This ancient food was a staple of Aztec diets, and it turns out they were onto something. Eating chia seeds before bed can directly help you sleep and boost your immune system. We explain how, right here.
Chia seeds before bed: The surprising sleep aid
Packed with protein, fiber, and with exceptional health benefits (which we cover in the next section), chia seeds are great to eat before bed due to their ability to act as a natural sleep aid.
That’s because chia seeds are rich in tryptophan – an essential amino acid that we don’t produce naturally, and which we must obtain through diet. Interestingly, supplementing with this amino acid appears to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep. That’s because tryptophan helps your body produce an important sleep hormone called melatonin.
Melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle, and is so important to our sleep health that often individuals who are struggling to sleep – or have been diagnosed with insomnia – are prescribed melatonin. Therefore eating a handful of chia seeds before bed could be a great way to top up your natural melatonin levels at the right time.
Tryptophan also helps your body produce serotonin – a hormone that helps with our mood, well-being and happiness. Serotonin has a role to play in inducing sleep, and is needed in order for the body to produce that all-important sleep hormone – melatonin!
It doesn’t end there either. An ounce of chia seeds contains around 20-25% of your recommended daily intake of magnesium. Why’s that notable? Well supplementing with magnesium has been shown to help relieve symptoms of insomnia and improve sleep efficiency, sleep time and sleep onset. It’s also been shown to reduce anxiety – one of the leading causes of insomnia.
Eating chia seeds before bed could help sleep quality and onset due to the presence of tryptophan – which helps the body produce the important sleep hormone melatonin – and magnesium. All of which have been shown to have a positive effect on sleep quality.
Chia seeds before bed: Any other HEALTH benefits?
This remarkable seed is also an anti-inflammatory, loaded with antioxidants, is full of fiber, protein and 60% of the oil in chia seeds is omega-3 fatty acids. All are crucial to keeping your health in check.
In particular, chia seeds are packed with α-Linolenic acid which is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Why is that important? Well many major diseases like heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s are often linked to chronic inflammation. Therefore incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet – like chia seeds or kiwi – is a no-brainer.
Studies have backed up the remarkable properties of chia seeds too. Regular consumption has been shown to have the potential to stabilize blood glucose level in diabetics, reduce cholesterol and boost the immune system, and even reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.
Chia seeds are also packed with antioxidents (notably chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol) which means they have the potential to protect your cells and tissue from damage. Antioxidants are also important for sleep as they appear to have a direct effect on sleep quality, as they support the immune system and help promote restfulness at night.
Antioxidant foods also help protect your body and can even reverse damage that has been done by oxidative stress. Oxidative stress comes about when there’s an imbalance between free radical molecules (which can cause harm) and antioxidants – that imbalance then causes illness and tissue damage. The result can be the development of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease and many others. Therefore eating antioxidant foods – like chia seeds or garlic – should be a priority.
The science has been backed up too. One study concluded that consuming chia seeds could have a protective effective on your cardiac system, could be anti-cancer, and even anti-ageing! It all sounds too good to be true, but in this case chia seeds really are that good for you.
There’s another huge benefit to this superfood as well. The omega-3 fatty acids within chia seeds are incredibly good for your overall health, and were concluded in one study to ‘protect from inflammation, improve cognitive performance, and lower the level of cholesterol’. The same study also made clear the high amount of fiber in chia seeds ‘decreases the risk of coronary heart disease, the risk for diabetes type 2, and several types of cancer.’
Chia seeds have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities, and are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Because of that, several studies have shown chia seeds to have a positive effect on health, protect against disease, and boost the immune system.
Chia seeds for sleep: Incorporating them into your diet
Chia seeds are cheap and can now be found in shops and supermarkets around the world. They can also be eaten in their natural form, and so are easy to incorporate into your diet.
There are many other ways to incorporate chia seeds into your diet too. You can use them as a topping for porridge, yoghurt or muesli, baked into deserts, sprinkled on the top of rice, or as part of a smoothie.
For sleep benefits, a small handful in a yoghurt with kiwi before bedtime – or with cinnamon milk – will suffice.
Chia seeds before bed: What about side effects?
If you don’t have a chia seed allergy then moderate consumption of chia seeds shouldn’t cause any side effects. However due to their fiber content, eating chia seeds in excess could lead to bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation.
As always, we recommend consulting with your doctor if undertaking a diet change, or if you have concerns about how a specific food may interact with any preexisting conditions or medicines.