Instead of planting chia seeds to grow chia pets, try eating these nutritious seeds. They are good sources of protein, fiber, omega-3 fats and minerals and may help lower your risk for health conditions including high cholesterol and high blood pressure, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. They also provide you with some tryptophan.
If you want to improve your mood or get a good sleep, you might want to eat more foods containing tryptophan. Tryptophan is one of the nine amino acids you need to get through your diet, because your body can't make it. This amino acid is important for producing the B vitamin niacin and serotonin, a hormone that helps you sleep well and regulates your mood. While tryptophan is found in most foods that contain protein, grains usually don't contain a lot of this amino acid.
Chia Seed Tryptophan Content
Eating chia seeds is a good way to increase the amount of tryptophan you get. An ounce of chia seeds provides you with 124 milligrams of tryptophan, which is almost half of the 255 milligrams that a 140-pound person needs each day. This makes chia seeds an excellent source of tryptophan.
Increasing Tryptophan Consumption
As long as you eat a variety of different foods that contain protein, you don't have to worry about not getting enough tryptophan. However, you can boost your tryptophan levels by adding chia seeds to your baked goods, smoothies, granola, soups, oatmeal or salads. If you don't have chia seeds handy, eggs, dairy products, turkey, chicken, fish, soy, nuts and seeds are also sources of this amino acid.
Research concerning the benefits of chia seeds is still in the preliminary stages and more is needed to verify their potential health benefits. However, because they provide a lot of essential nutrients there is no harm in adding chia seeds to your diet. You can eat them either raw or cooked, and you can also eat chia seed sprouts if you like.
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.