Chia seeds have burst in popularity in recent years. Many food companies are adding these seeds to bread, bars, cereals, pudding, drinks, and other foods. But, what is Chia?
Chia is an eatable seed which comes from the plant Salvia hispanica that is grown in Mexico from the time of Aztec and Mayan cultures.
“Chia” literally means “strength”, and legend has it that these cultures used the tiny white and black seeds as a great energy booster. In fact, that makes sense, as these seeds are a concentrated food containing antioxidants, fiber, calcium, carbohydrates, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein.
Chia seeds are a natural, gluten-free, whole-grain food, which is absorbed by the body as seed (unlike flaxseeds).
The mild flavor of chia makes them easy to add to beverages and foods. They are usually sprinkled on yogurt, rice dishes, vegetables, sauces, or cereal, or mixed into baked goods and drinks. They can also be combined with water and made into a gel.
Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts
A 1 ounce/28 grams/2 tablespoons serving of chia seeds contains 1 :
- 137 calories (72 from fat)
- 11 grams’ fiber
- 9 grams (5 of which belong to Omega-3s)
- 4 grams’ protein
- Manganese: 30% of the RDA
- Calcium: 18% of the RDA
- Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDA
They also contain a good amount of thiamine (Vitamin B1), Vitamin B2, niacin (Vitamin B3), zinc, and potassium.
This is particularly notable when you consider that this is just 1 ounce that supplies 1 gram of digestible carbohydrate and just 137 calories.
Fascinatingly… if you withdraw the fiber – that may not end up as functional calories for the body, chia seeds just contain 101 calories per 1 ounce. All of this makes them one of the world’s greatest sources of many essential nutrients, calorie for calorie.
Moreover, chia seeds are unprocessed, “whole-grain” food, typically grown organically, which are naturally free of gluten and non-GMO.
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
- Diverticular Disease Treatment
High fiber diets have been proven to reduce the prevalence in outbreaks of diverticulitis by absorbing water in the colon and thus, making bowel movement easier to pass. Consuming a healthful, fiber-dilled, vegetable and fruit diet can reduce inflammation and pressure in the colon. Even though the cause of diverticular disease is still unfamiliar, it has been frequently linked with a low fiber diet.
- Detox and Digestion
A diet rich in fiber promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract and prevents constipation. Regular bowel movements are crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool.
- Great Source of Fiber
The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Institute of Medicine submit that women under the age of 50 consume 25 grams of fiber daily and men under the age of 50 consume 38 grams of fiber daily.
For people over 50 years’ age, the recommended daily dose of fiber for men is 30 grams and for women is 21 grams of fiber daily. Most people aren’t consuming even 1/2 of this recommendation in a day.
In order to increase the consumption of plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, seeds, and nuts is the easiest way to increase fiber intake. Just 1 ounce of chia provides 10 grams of fiber, nearly half the daily recommendation for women over 50.
- Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Disease
Increased intake of fiber has also been found to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. A review of 67 distinct controlled trials established that even a modest fiber intake of around 10-gram per day can reduce LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) other than total cholesterol.
Latest studies have proven that dietary fiber might even play a role in regulating inflammation and the immune system, consequently reducing the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.4
- Weight Loss
Foods rich in fiber are usually lower in calories and can keep you feeling full longer. High fiber diets and increased fiber consumptions have been found to help with weight loss.
High fiber diets are linked with a reduced risk of developing diabetes and consuming high fiber meals in order to keep blood sugar stable. The National Institute of Medicine found that diets with 14 grams of fiber for each 1,000 calories were linked with major reductions in the risk of both, type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease.
- Thrombosis and Arrhythmias
Studies submit that omega-3s can reduce the risk for arrhythmias and thrombosis, which may lead to heart disease, stroke, heart attack, or sudden cardiac death.
Omega-3s can also decrease triglyceride, total cholesterol, and LDL levels, improve endothelial function, reduce atherosclerotic plaque, and lower blood pressure. Walnuts, hempseed oil, hempseeds, flaxseed oil, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are the richest sources of plant-based omega-3s.
Benefits of Consuming Chia Seeds During Pregnancy
These little seeds pack a great nutritional punch; which expectant mothers should also consider including them into their well-balanced diet. Pregnancy could deplete your body of essential nutrients and consume chia can help substitute those lost nutrients while providing a much-required energy boost. These seeds are quite easy to incorporate into your daily routine and benefit not just the health of the mother, but the development of the baby as well.
Here are the best chia benefits for pregnancy:
- Great Source of Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids are significant for a baby’s brain development. Many persons choose to meet their daily requirement by eating salmon or taking fish oil supplements. Chia seeds are a great alternative since the mercury content in fish have a tendency to make most pregnant women skeptical. For such a petite seed, chia is really high in omega-3 fatty acids. Naturally, seeds and nuts with a high fat content turn rancid very fast, but chia is so rich in antioxidants they may be kept in storage for about 4 years without deterioration.
- Replenish Lost Nutrients
Pregnancy is taxing on woman’s body. However, chia packs a powerful antioxidant punch to aid replace many of those lost nutrients. These seeds are high in essential minerals like phosphorus, manganese, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
During the last 3 months of pregnancy, it is truly important to get suitable calcium for good skeletal development. Chia contains almost 5 times the quantity of calcium as milk. Plus, these seeds also contain boron, which is another essential mineral for bone health.
Iron is significant to develop the red blood cells which transport oxygen throughout the body. Increase iron intake during pregnancy is essential to accommodate the increased blood volume of the mother and for the development of the blood of the baby.
Chia has shown possible effectiveness for vasodilatation, stroke, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, endocrine/hormonal disorders, heart attack, coronary heart disease (CHD), cancer, athletic performance enhancement, angina, and allergies, according to a study by Natural Standard Research Collaboration 5 . An evidence also submits possible antiviral, antioxidant, and anticoagulant effects.
- Slows Sugar Absorption
High blood sugar levels are a reason for risky pregnancy. This been associated to complication such as increase chance of C-section deliveries, high birth weight, and preeclampsia. Chia creates a gelatin-like substance in the gut. This keeps blood sugar levels stable and slows digestion.
- Energy Booster
Other than slowing sugar absorption, these seeds also slow down the process of converting carbohydrates and sugars into energy. This process along with the high protein content leads to a constant energy boost.
How to Use Chia Seeds?
These seeds can be used in numerous recipes and added to favorite foods. There are several ways to use them – depending on the texture you want to accomplish:
Many sources recommend soaking chia seeds for the maximum benefit. Since chia is hydrophilic – it will attract water in the body if not added or soaked to liquid, therefore, if you choose not to soak these seeds, it’s best to drink a plenty of liquids after consuming chia. Additionally, at least 1 individual has gotten chia lodged in his throat after attempting to eat them dry, so it’s not recommended to eat them unsoaked (because they are quite difficult to chew).
Another way to use chia in recipes is to grind the seeds up into a fine powder. This is particularly beneficial when you want to get the welfares without changing the texture of your food or you are using them as a thickener. There is also some evidence which it might be easier for the body to absorb chia when is powdered before eating.
If adding directly to recipes or foods that contain liquid, it is not necessary to grind or soak chia seeds first. You can add them directly to drinks, soups, smoothies, or even meat to thicken without requiring to soak first.
Chia Seeds Side Effects
There are a few side effects linked with chia seeds. There have been certain conflicting studies about the effects of chia on prostate cancer. A research done with prostate cancer and ALA found that this fatty acid can increase the risks of prostate cancer – however, this research was later shown to have prejudice.6
And ALA not only didn’t increase the risk of prostate cancer but actually reduced the risk in contributors, according to a study in 2010.
Rarely some individuals may have stomach discomfort when eating chia seeds, especially in large amounts because of the high fiber content. So, as with any food, consume in moderation and drink lots of water unless soaking the seeds.
Chia Seeds Recipes
Following, Your Health Tubers suggest 2 delicious and healthy recipes with chia seeds, and a homemade body scrub, which is very easy to prepare.
- Chia Fresca
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds
- 2 ½ teaspoons white sugar
Stir lemon juice, water, and sugar together in a cup until sugar is completely dissolved, then add the chia. Let stand about 10 minutes – until a gel form around the seeds. Stir and enjoy!
- Chia Seed Chips
If you are a fan of crackers this is an ideal recipe for you! These chips will keep for about 1 week if stored properly.
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1 ½ teaspoons seasoned salt
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 pinch seasoned salt
Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C/ 350 degrees F. Mix chia seeds, flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt, and 1 teaspoon sea salt in a bowl. Next, stir in water until dough is combined, then form bite-size rounds and place on a baking sheet. In the end, sprinkle rounds with some seasoned salt.
Bake about 15 minutes until crisp. Cool completely. Store in a resealable bag or airtight container.
For plain chips: substitute the 1 1/2 tsp. seasoning salt with 1 tsp. sea salt. Sprinkle with sea salt before baking.
For cheesy chips: before adding water – stir in some shredded Cheddar cheese. These won’t keep as long, perhaps 2-3 days.
For crackers: remove seasoning salt. Simply roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment and cut into rectangles.
- DIY: Chia Seeds Body Scrub
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ cup coconut oil
Mix all ingredients and store in a clean jar. In order to use, apply some scrub in a circular motion to moist face. Leave the mixture to set for 2 minutes before removing it with a wet washcloth. In the end, splash cold water on the face and apply your favorite cream. Store in refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
Enjoy chia seeds for their nice flavor and to boost the protein, fiber, omega 3s, antioxidants, and calcium in your diet. However, do not expect a big weight loss lift.
Unluckily, there are no magic bullets (or seeds) for weight loss. These seeds can improve your health and may protect you against some diseases, but If you want to lose weight, you will need to get more physical activity and follow a healthy, calorie-controlled diet.