The Many Benefits Of Chia Seeds
06/22/2012 | 02:27 PM
The Chia plant is known for its nutritional value. The ancient Aztecs and Mayans first discovered Chia. Messengers in particular were known to run long distances solely on the energy provided by Chia seeds. In fact, the word chia means “strength” in the Mayan language. Chia seeds were so valued that tributes and taxes to the Aztec nobility and the clergy were often paid in chia seeds.
The tiny pinpoint sized Chia seeds have a variety of health benefits. They can be helpful in treating conditions as far ranging as osteoporosis, skin conditions, constipation, cholesterol, liver problems, obesity and dehydration.
Chia seeds are a near perfect food. They have the largest plant source of essential fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega), which support the functioning of the heart, cell membrane growth, and help with the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. They are 20% percent protein 25% dietary fiber and rich in antioxidants. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals including: calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, iron, iodine, copper, zinc, sodium, magnesium, manganese, niacin (Vitamin B3) and thiamine (Vitamin B1).
- Good for your heart: A recent study in the Journal of Nutritional Bio-chemistry shows that the high levels of fatty acids in chia seeds are linked to improvements in heart functioning and reductions in Cardiovascular Disease.
- Keeps you full for a long time: Chia seeds are tiny and only a small amount will keep you full for a long time. When exposed to water increases in size weight. They expand in your stomach and suppress appetite.
- Rich in Calcium: Chia seeds contain more calcium per gram then milk. Calcium is essential to bone strength and density, and for pregnant and lactating mothers.
- Nutritional and energizing: A tablespoon of chia seed provides enough energy for a whole day. The protein content in chia seeds is higher than in cereals, dairy or meat. The combination of complete protein, vitamins, minerals and blood-sugar balancing gel all work together to make sure you have steady, never jittery energy.
- Easy to Cook with: Due to their neutral taste, chia seeds can be a substitute for flour. Because they become gelatinous in water, chia seeds can be added to fresh fruit juices, soups and yoghurt as a thickener. They are also often added to baked goods like muffins or cookies to add nutrition and crunch.
- Hydrating: Because chia seeds absorb water, eating them before a race or workout can help you retain water longer. They’re a favorite among athletes.
- Stabilize blood sugars: Both the gelling action of the seed, and it’s unique combination of soluble and insoluble fiber combine to help control blood sugar. Keeping blood sugars stable is especially important for diabetics.
- Last forever: Chia seeds are so rich in antioxidants that they rarely deteriorate. This means they can be stored for long periods of time without becoming rancid.
- High cholestrol and blood pressure: Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is good for the heart and for lowering cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends that people without coronary heart disease eat a variety of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids including fish, chia seeds, flaxseed and walnuts.
- Obesity: chia seeds offer a feeling of fullness that lasts for a long time and can help reduce hunger. This fact makes them an important part of treating obesity or weight gain.
- Low immune system: Because chia seeds are rich in antioxidants they can be useful in strengthening the immune system and promoting cell regeneration. Chia seeds contain more antioxidants per serving than fresh blueberries.
- Detoxification and Elimination: Similar to psyllium husks, the swelling action of Chia in the body helps to cleanse and soothe the colon, and absorb toxins while helping move things along. Chia seeds are a typical remedy for constipation.
Potential Side Effects
- Low blood pressure: Because Chia seeds naturally lower blood pressure, they are not recommended for people who take medicine for low blood pressure or blood thinners.
- Allergies: Chia seeds have been known to cause allergic reactions including skin rashes, diarrhea and swelling.
- Bloating: Because chia seeds absorb a large quantity of water and a rich in fiber they may induce bloating and gas if consumed in large quantities.
It should be noted that the effects of chia seeds on pregnant or lactating women are not well known at this point.
Chia seeds tend to be popular with people who don’t eat meat: vegetarians, vegans, and people on raw food diets. Chia seeds can be an important source of vitamins and minerals that tend to be missing from the average diet. A purely chia seed diet is not recommended except as an occasional, short-term detoxification under the guidance of a health practitioner.
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