Top 10 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are becoming a bigger and bigger part of..

Top 10 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are becoming a bigger and bigger part of the health food scene. And if you’re someone who makes an effort to eat healthier, you may have dabbled in achia seed recipe or two.

These tiny black seeds are tasteless — and undergo areally cool gelatinous transformation when wet — so they’re easy enough to incorporate into your diet. But do you have any idea why you should actually be doing so?

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History of Chia

Chia was first used by the Aztecs as early as 3500 B.C. and was a cash crop in the centre of Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C.  Chia was harvested in the Valley of Mexico between 2600 and 2000 B.C. by the Teotihuacan and Toltec civilizations and was one of the main components of the Aztec diet.

Pre-Columbian civilizations used chia as a raw material for medicines, nutritional compounds.  Chia was used by the Aztecs as food, mixed with other foods, mixed in water and drunk as a beverage, ground into flour, included in medicines, and pressed for oil. 

Chia flour could be stored for many years and could be easily carried on long trips, serving as a high-energy food.  The aztecs also offered chia to the gods during religious ceremonies.

When the Spanish conquerors landed the new land in 1500s, they repressed the natives, and suppressed their traditions and commercialization system that had existed. 

Many crops that had held a major position

Many crops that had held a major position in pre-Columbian American diets were banned by the Spanish because of their close association with religion.  Chia, as the result, was deliberately eliminated.  Chia survived only in regional area in Mexico for the last 500 years.

It was until early 1990s, a group of American and south American scientists, nutritionists and agriculturarists began collaborating in commercial production of chia in Argentina. In the hope of rediscovering the lost nutritional plants in the Azrtec tradition and civilizations. 

At present, chia is grown in Argentina, Mexico, Peru and Bolivia.  Chia seeds are now also grown in Australia by The Chia company, and Australia is quite likely to become the biggest chia growing country in the world.

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A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains:

  • Fiber: 11 grams.
  • Protein: 4 grams.
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
  • Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
  • They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.

 

Here are the 10 benefits of chia seeds:

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Chia seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds’ lipid profile is composed of 60 percent omega-3s, making them one of the richest plant-based sources of these fatty acids — specifically, of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA.

The omega-3s in chia seeds can help reduce inflammation, enhance cognitive performance and reduce high cholesterol.

Fiber

Fiber is associated with reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol and regulating bowel function. Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, with a whopping 10 grams in only 2 tablespoons. That is one-third of the daily recommended intake of fiber per day.

Antioxidants

Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer. The high antioxidant profile also helps them have a long shelf life.

They last almost two years without refrigeration.

Minerals

Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 18 percent of the DRI for calcium, 35 percent for phosphorus, 24 percent for magnesium and about 50 percent for manganese.

These nutrients help you prevent hypertension and maintain a healthy weight. And are important for energy metabolism and a part of DNA synthesis.

Satiety

Satiety is the feeling of being full and satisfied, which helps lower food cravings between meals. The combination of protein

Fiber and the gelling action of chia seeds when mixed with liquids all contribute to their satiating effects.

Gluten-Free

Chia seeds contain no gluten or grains. Therefore, all of the nutritional benefits of chia seeds can be obtained on a gluten-free diet.

Egg Replacer

The outer layer of chia seeds swells when mixed with liquids to form a gel. This can used in place of eggs to lower cholesterol and increase the nutrient content of foods and baked goods.

To make the egg replacement, mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for 15 minutes.

Can Be Digested Whole

Unlike flaxseeds, which are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and minerals. Chia seeds do not need to be ground in order to obtain their nutrient or egg- replacement benefits.

Dyslipidemia

A study published in the “British Journal of Nutrition” showed that chia seeds as a dietary fat source can lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels while increasing HDL or “good” cholesterol.

The study also found that when substituting chia seeds for other fat sources, such as corn oil, the ALA was able to prevent high triglyceride levels and reduce central obesity.

Blood Sugar Regulation

Chia seeds can play an important role in regulating insulin levels. They can reduce insulin resistance and decrease abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood.

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How to incorporate more chia seeds into your diet:

Chia seeds are relatively easy to find in any major supermarket and are only slightly smaller than a strawberry seed. They are black in color and have a very mild, nutty flavor.

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Chia seeds can be eaten raw or cooked and added to yogurt, cereal and smoothies.

You can eat them raw or cooked. Sprinkle chia seeds on cereal, yogurt, oatmeal or smoothies. Add them to baked goods like bread and muffins.

If are experimenting with vegan baking or you just run out of eggs, you can mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water.

Let them sit for a few minutes, and watch them turn into a gel that you can use as a substitute for eggs in baking.

Potential health risks of consuming chia seeds

Chia seeds can absorb up to 27 times their weight in water. This posed a problem for one man with a history of swallowing problems who, doctors say. 

Developed an esophageal obstruction after eating a tablespoon of chia seeds dry and trying to wash them down with a glass of water.

The seeds formed a thick gel in his esophagus that he was unable to swallow down without medical treatment.

Although this case was rare, make sure to mix chia seeds into another food or liquid before consuming, especially if you have a history of swallowing problems.

Avoid giving chia seeds to small children.

It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health.

It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.


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Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

We eat clean, are always motivated and helpout beginners in need. We sell guides on Cutting, Bulking and Muscle Building. Checkout our website!

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