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6 Impressive Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

These tiny ancient seeds, favored by the Aztecs and Mayans (the word means "strength" in their language), provide major nutrients with minimal calories.

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Chia seeds control appetite

Chia seeds contain 11 grams of fiber per ounce—that's 42 percent of your recommended daily value in just one serving! How it works: Chia expands in your gut, curbing your appetite. Add to a breakfast smoothie or yogurt to feel fuller longer. Dr. Oz recommends stirring two tablespoons of chia seeds into a glass of water to ward off afternoon cravings. (Here are 30 other ways to get more fiber in your diet without even trying.)

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Chia seeds support strong bones

One ounce of chia seeds also delivers 18 percent of the recommended daily value of calcium. If you're lactose intolerant or aren't a big milk drinker, these little seeds can help provide the calcium your bones need to stay strong and prevent osteoporosis, according to Dr. Oz. (Be wary of these signs of a calcium deficiency.)

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Chia seeds may help you sleep

Chia seeds are tiny bundles of tryptophan, according to sharecare.com, and that amino acid raises melatonin and serotonin levels. These are the hormones that support stable sleep. (Doing this one thing every night might help you sleep, too!)

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Chia seeds help control blood sugar

Chia seeds' high fiber content slows the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar and of sugar to fat during digestion, as per diabeticconnect.com. This helps keep blood sugar levels steady. (Here's how often you should get your blood sugar levels checked.)

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Chia seeds moisturize the skin

Chia seeds are also available in serum form. Nicholas Perricone, MD, suggests applying it directly to dry skin or cuticles for immediate relief. You can also add a few drops to your regular lotion for extra moisturizing power. The high omega-3 content means chia seeds have anti-inflammatory properties, which can diminish redness and revive dry skin. (Here are some other natural moisturizers you can find in your home.)

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Chia seeds protect the heart

Chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, even more than flax seeds and salmon, and this healthy fat is key to a healthy heart. High blood fat levels increases your risk of developing heart disease, and omega-3s have been shown to lower triglyceride levels. Check out more astounding benefits of chia seeds from Health Ambition. (These omega-3-rich foods might add years to your life.)

Originally Published in Reader's Digest