Health Benefits of Superfood Chia Seeds
Certain species of the grains that were popular in the pre-industrialization era have suddenly caught their attention due to never ending list of nutrients and their respective benefits. The seeds of Chia plant, a Mexican variety of oil seeds are one such type. Popularized by the Aztec Civilization of Central Mexico, Chia belongs to mint family and is an annual herb plant. This article will detail with the benefits of chia seeds and will suggest the best methods in which the seeds can be used to their highest nutrition potential.
Major Nutrients in Chia Seeds
When considering its etymology, Chia comes to be derived from Mexican term “chian” meaning oil. This is justifiable as chia seeds contain 25-30% oil. A significant part of oil content is taken by omega 3,6 and 9 types fatty acids while rest is alpha lenolic acid and saturated fats.
Besides oil, chia seeds are rich in dietary fiber and have decent amount of calcium and traces of sodium. The table below shows average nutrition facts of 100gms of dried chia seeds.
|Nutrient||Value per 100gm|
|Total lipid (fat)||30.74g|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||42.12g|
|Fiber, total dietary||34.4g|
|Iron, Fe||7.72 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||335 mg|
|Phosphorus, P||860 mg|
|Potassium, K||407 mg|
|Sodium, Na||16 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||4.58 mg|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||1.6 mg|
|Vitamin A, IU||54 IU|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||0.50 mg|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||3.330 g|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||2.309 g|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||23.665 g|
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database
Health Benefits of Chia seeds
Once a person reads the major nutrients in chia seeds, it is not difficult to judge how beneficial the chia seeds can be when used properly. One does not need to boil, bake, cool or cook the seeds. They are to be taken directly from the packaging, washed once for safety, dried and then eaten moderately as a snack.
Out of the really long list of advantages, some are listed below:
1. Strength to the body: The Mayan meaning for chia is strength. According to ancient scripts, the warriors of the Incan, Mayan, Aztec and other Mexican Civilizations used to carry dried chia seeds. A handful of chia seeds would strengthen them so much that they could battle for as long as 24hours continuously. The seeds would keep the warriors hydrated and take care of their energy levels as well. The hydrophilic properties which help to regulate electrolytes, and complex carbohydrates found in chia seeds break down slowly to maintain energy levels for improved stamina. This is the reason that chia seeds are often included in athletes’ diet during their training.
2. Health Oasis of Omega Acids: Aforesaid, chia seeds contain 25-30% oil out of which omega acids form a significant part. Omega acids are well known the current health conscious world in the form of heart shield. The amount of omega 3 acid in chia seeds is more than that in salmon fish. Omega 3 type fatty acids reduce the risk of cholesterol, thus making the heart remain stronger and preventing its aging process. Omega acids are also needed for a good skin, healthy nails.
3. Chia Seeds for Weight loss and digestion benefits: An ounce of chia seeds contains 11grams of dietary fiber meaning that a couple of ounces would satisfy daily needs of at least 20 grams of fiber. Fiber is a prime factor in reducing weight as it slows down the digestion process. The person would feel less hungry as his appetite would be curbed and nutrients would be absorbed and assimilated in a better manner.
4. Steady Sugar Levels: In recent experiments, chia seeds have shown indications to control lipid levels as well as improve and stabilize blood sugar levels.
5. Micronutrient in-take benefits: Micronutrients are those compounds which are to be taken in trace amounts. Chia seeds contain phosphorous, magnesium, calcium and potassium micronutrients. These elements are needed for bones, muscle movement and various stimuli reactions.
6. Reducing Oxidants: Oxidants are those high energy entities which de-stabilize usual cell growth and repair processes which might result in fatal diseases such as cancer, ulcer etc. Chia seeds are anti-oxidants which cancel out the high energy oxidants.
7. Chia Seeds Help Reduce Inflammation: The essential fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties helping in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and reducing C-reactive protein, a protein found in the blood, the levels of which rise in response to inflammation. Omega-3s also help to reduce pain and stiffness in joints.
Some Interesting Ways to intake Chia Seeds
Just as chia seeds are rich with the nutrition value, there are several ways which make chia seeds a delicacy to enjoy. Here are a few methods through which one can enjoy chia seeds:
1. Chia Gel Pie: Chia seeds can absorb upto 12 times of water intake. One can soak chia seeds with water to create a gel, add fresh berries to it and a health and taste bonanza pie is ready.
2. Baking Breads with chia seeds on top: While baking breads, one can put chia seeds on the top. This would serve as a healthy snack with tea, coffee or shake along with the obvious health benefits.
3. Chia seeds can also work salad dressings, decorating yogurts, puddings and several other occasional and regular meals.
4. Chia seeds also serve as pudding when mixed with milk and any food flavouring agent like vanilla along with other pudding requirements.
5. Chia seeds can be used to thicken soup and curry gravy adding a crunchy effect to the food and increasing its health quotient.
There are several recipes available on the above listed tips and tricks through which one can increase taste value of through delicious dishes and puddings. Besides that the natural crunchy taste of the nuts is also nice.
It is to be kept in mind, however, that chia seeds are moderate in cholesterol like other nuts. Hence, one should limit consumption of chia seeds.
Chia Seeds Fact File:
By going the way of the facts, chia seeds supersede a number of fruits, vegetables, nuts in terms of nutrition value. They contain 5 times more calcium than milk, 7 times more Vitamin C than in orange, 3 times more iron than in spinach and 2 times more potassium than bananas.
As the world progresses into the zone of higher technologies, the inclination towards ancient habits of living is increasing too. Since living healthy is the need to survive long, one should intake more amounts of food that are more than average in terms of the nutrition value. Chia seeds are one such example which after being not so popular after decline of its discovering civilizations, has now taken a popular tag name of “super food”. From athelets to a computer programmer, anyone well aware of chia seeds cannot neglect for the multiple benefits it has and includes it in his/her diet for the same reasons.