The Fiber Boost Found in Chia

By Barrie Rogers, Debbie Dooly

Fiber is mainly found in fruits, vegetable, legumes, and whole grains, but chia is also a fantastic source of fiber, providing 5 g of fiber per 15 g serving of chia. This equates to 20 percent of the fiber you need in a day. That’s a lot of fiber for such a small portion of food with little calories!

Fiber (or what your grandma may have referred to as “roughage”) is the part of food that your body can’t digest. Even though the body can’t digest it, fiber provides many health benefits and is essential for a healthy diet. Unlike fats, proteins, or carbohydrates, which your body breaks down and absorbs, fiber isn’t digested by your body — it passes through the digestive system relatively intact.

Why fiber matters

Most people know that we need fiber in the diet, but not everyone knows why. Here’s what fiber does for you:

  • Helps you maintain a healthy weight: Because chia is high in fiber, it helps to make you feel fuller longer, reducing cravings for unhealthy foods. This can help maintain a healthy body weight.

  • Reduces constipation: Dietary fiber adds weight and bulk to stools and softens it, making it easier to pass and decreasing the chance of constipation.

    When you’re increasing your fiber intake, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Otherwise, you could end up getting constipated — the opposite of the effect you’re looking for. Aim for drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.

  • Lowers cholesterol levels: Soluble fiber (see the nearby sidebar) may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol. Studies have revealed that viscous fibers, like the soluble fiber in chia, are most effective in reducing blood cholesterol levels.

  • Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease: Fiber is proving to have other heart-healthy benefits such as reduced blood pressure and inflammation, which help in the fight against cardiovascular disease.

  • Reduces the risk of hemorrhoids: A high-fiber diet lowers the risk of developing hemorrhoids. And that’s something we can all get behind (no pun intended).

  • Controls blood sugar levels: The soluble fiber found in chia slows the absorption of sugar, helping to balance blood sugar levels. This is great for people with diabetes because it provides a natural way to help balance blood sugar levels.

How much fiber is enough

When it comes to fiber, the experts always say to eat more. But how much more often isn’t clear. Depending on your age and gender, you should try to consume 20 g to 38 g of dietary fiber per day. (Fiber intake can be reduced a little for children.)

How Much Fiber Is Enough
Gender Age 50 or Younger Over Age 50
Male 38 g 30 g
Female 25 g 21 g

Most Americans eat less than 15 g of fiber a day, which is why so many Americans suffer from diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Each 15 g serving of chia provides 5 g of fiber, which gets you well on your way to reaching your goal. You can also increase your fiber intake by eating more fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, and whole grains.