Chia seeds are a superfood, and though widely known, its energy boosting effects is just one reason why. It is high on fiber, making it ideal for treating digestive issues and controlling weight.It is a rich source of multiple nutrients such as proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, making it the ideal addition toyour daily diet. Its properties make it ideal for controlling and treating diabetes, controlling hypertension, preventing heart disease, preventing arthritis, combatting certain types of cancer, boosting dental hygiene, and preventing fatigue. Additionally, it is extremely healthy for expectant mothers.
Extracted from the Chia plant, Chia seeds are native to Mexico and Guatemala.The tropical climate of these countries is highly conducive for Chia production. They have high medicinal as well as nutritional value, and are one of the most popular superfoods today. Although the consumption of Chia was widespread in the 18th and 19th centuries, it saw a massive dip in the 20th century. However, it has seen a resurgence in popularity in the last 10 years. In the Mayan language, chia means strength, and undoubtedly, that is the source of its popularity. It is widely known that Chia seeds pack a great punch and can pump a lot of energy into the body. Research indicates that Chia seeds are high in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin.
The value of adding Chia seeds to one’s diet can be seen in the fact that it has great short-term benefits, such as giving energy to the body for every day work, as well as long-term benefits that include keeping the body healthy and young. 100 gms of Chia seeds contain 486 kcal of energy, 42 gms of carbohydrates, 34 gms of fiber, 30 gms of fat, and 16 gms of protein. It is also a rich source of minerals with 860 mg of phosphorus, 630 mg of calcium, 407 mg of potassium, and 335 mg of magnesium. Chia seeds do not contain any cholesterol and are instead a great source of antioxidants such as flavonol glycosides, quercetin, myricetin,caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, kaempferol, and linolenic acid, which help in curbing the levels of free radicals in the body. Chia seeds are known to have high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids which benefits the body in terms of healthy aging.
Apart from certain varieties of fish, Chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. This component is essential to the body as it enables many bodily functions. Studies also show that the consumption of Chia seeds enhances workout performance. Therefore, it is a great substitute for energy drinks. It culls out an excess of sugar in the diet. It boosts the body’s metabolism, which produces more energy in the body and consequently reduces and prevents fatigue.
There are many ways in which Chia seeds can benefit your digestive health. Its high fiber content regulates bowel movement and its ability to absorb high amounts of water makes you feel full for a longer period of time, thus minimizing the risk of overeating.
The high amount of dietary fiber along with its carbohydrate andfat content, and lack of cholesterol, all combine to make Chia seeds a great food product that effectively reduces and controls weight. It is also one of the best plant-based sources of protein. Studies show that adding a serving of Chia seeds in your diet can help burn belly fat. It does so by reducing the visceral adipose tissue, a belly fat tissue that lowers the metabolism of the body. One of the reasons why Chia seeds are known as a superfood is because they can absorb water up to 10 times their own weight. This characteristic improves the nutrient absorption of electrolytes, and keeps the body hydrated for a longer period of time. Additionally, it slows digestion, thus keeping you full for a longer period of time.
One of the biggest issues in diabetes is the sudden spike in sugar levels after each meal. Chia seeds combat this problem quite effectively. The carbohydrates and starch present in them are released into the body slowly, in comparison to conventional meals. Slower release means optimum absorption by each cell of the body. This reduces the reliance on insulin to control the body’s sugar levels. Some studies also suggest that Chia seeds can reverse diabetes over time.
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as Chia seeds, are heart-friendly. These are good fats that prevent the onset of heart disease by minimizing the levels of omega-6 fatty acids in the blood. This, therefore, minimizes the stress on the cardiovascular system.
Chia seeds are a rich source of an omega-3 acid known as alpha lipoic acid or ALA. Studies show that ALA minimizes the growth of cancer cells in cases of cervical and breast cancer. The benefits of ALA go so far as to the cell death of cancer cells, without any negative effect on healthy cells.
The most obvious reason why Chia seeds are great for your teeth is because it is rich in calcium. However, phosphorus and vitamin A, which are predominant in Chia seeds,also play a huge role in strengthening teeth. Together they keep the mouth healthy. Additionally, the Chia seed is also rich in zinc, which prevents plaque from accumulating around your teeth. This, in turn, prevents tartar and has an antibacterial effect which keeps bad breath and germs at bay.
Chia seeds have been known to control blood pressure. High blood pressure is one of the biggest causes of hypertension. In fact, studies have found that including Chia seeds in your diet regularly has the same impact on your body as regular consumption of hypertension medication.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in abundance in Chia seeds, act as an anti-inflammatory agent. The specific element that contributes to this benefit is known as alpha lenolic acid, or ALA, which controls the inflammation of the arteries and joints. Studies estimate that as little as 4 gms of Chia seeds a day is enough to control and prevent arthritis.
Chia seeds, with all their goodness, are a great dietary additive for pregnant women. Pregnancy can cause many issues such as vitamin and mineral deficiency, fatigue, and high-blood sugar. As Chia seeds are high on many essential vitamins and minerals, a small serving each day can help prevent and combat deficiencies in calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium, among others. It also provides a sustained boost of energy, as it slows down the process of converting carbohydrates and sugars. Moreover, consumption of Chia seeds creates a gelatin-like substance inside the stomach which slows down digestion. This ensures that blood-sugar levels are more stable, and do not fluctuate. If this wasn’t enough, Chia seeds, rich as they are in omega-3 fatty acids, enable cerebral growth in the fetus. While fish is also a great source of omega-3, the mercury content in fish could have a negative impact on the fetus, which is why Chia seeds are a great substitute.
Chia seeds are edible even when they are raw. They have a mildly nutty flavor, andcan be popped into the mouth in its natural form, with a simple wash to cleanse out the extraneous grit. However, it is best to soak them to extract maximum amount of nutrition from them. Soaking them overnight makes it easier for the stomach to digest them, and it gives you access to the denser nutrients inside the seeds. The ideal way to soak them is to maintain a 1:10 ratio of Chia seeds to water. Chia seeds also make for a great garnish and can be incorporated into any recipe easily. They are easy to prepare, as they can also be ground instead of soaked. Grinding is also a great way to extract nutrition from the seeds.
As with any superfood, the side effects of consuming Chia seeds are minimal. Studies record experiences of discomfort in the stomach, especially when the seeds were consumed in large amounts. This is due to the fact that Chia seeds have high fiber content. However, the risk of this discomfort can be minimized by consuming these seeds in moderate amounts, as is the case with all food, and drinking plenty of water.
A member of the mint family, Chia seeds are steeped in Mayan and Aztec cultures, who cultivated them for their supernatural powers. They are predominantly cultivated in Mexico, Guatemala, and certain countries in South America, and are therefore, an important part of their cuisine. For instance, the Chia seed is a vital ingredient in a Mexican and Central American favorite, the Chia fresca. It is a simple lemon juice concoction with added sweetener.