Chia seed, among the healthiest foods on the planet, are a whole-grain food, usually grown organically. Plus, they’re non-GMO and naturally free of gluten. Despite their small size, they are full of important nutrients. Great for Vegetarians and Vegans!
From beverages to baked goods, these tiny black and white seeds from the Salvia Hispanica plant have a long history.
Grown in Mexico and South America, chia seeds are said to have been used by Mayan and Aztec cultures for supernatural powers.
The Aztecs boast the first record of Chia as early as 3,500BC One of the main foods in the Aztec diet, the prevalence of Chia continued for quite some time. By 1,500 and 900BC, it was being grown in Mexico by the Teotihuacan and Toltec people.
Aside from eating whole, the ancients used the chia seed for many things. It was used as currency, in medicine, ground into flour, mixed as an ingredient in drinks, and pressed for oil. It was useful in that it could be stored for relatively long periods of time – making it perfect for traveling. To the Aztecs it was sacred and used as a sacrifice in religious ceremonies.
The ancient civilizations believed that the chia seed provided supernatural powers. In Mayan, “chia” means “strength.” This probably has to do with the large amounts of energy provided by chia seeds. Ancient warriors attributed their stamina to this tiny seed. This still holds true for certain groups of people today. The Mexican Tarahumara tribe is famous for their runners. These runners drink a mixture of chia seeds, lemon, and water called Iskiate. After drinking this, they are said to be able to run hundreds of miles. (Source.)
Chia is the edible seed of Salvia Hispanica, a flowering plant in the mint family native to Central America, or of the related Salvia Columbariae of the southwestern United States and Mexico. Chia seeds are oval and black or white in colour, having a diameter around 1 millimetre.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds (28 grams/1 ounce) contain about 140 calories, 4 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, 7 grams of unsaturated fat, 18% RDA for calcium, and trace minerals including zinc and copper. They are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that cannot be made by the body. (Per 100g = Energy: 486 Calories; Protein: 16,5g; Calcium: 631mg; Iron: 7,7mg; Fat: 30,7g; Potassium: 407mg)
Chia Seed Benefits
They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, and they provide fiber, iron, and calcium.
Chia seeds are relatively high in protein – so are a useful source of plant protein and provide a range of amino acids, particularly for vegetarian and vegan diets.
- Omega-3 fatty acids help raise HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol that protects against heart attack and stroke.
- The combination of fat, protein and fibre means the seeds are digested relatively slowly, providing long, slow release of energy to keep blood-sugar levels stable.
- Seeds are rich in minerals such as calcium and magnesium and trace elements such as manganese, which helps make enzymes.
- Chia seeds provide more omega-3s, calcium, phosphorus, and fiber than flaxseeds. Most people do not consume enough of these essential nutrients.
- Plant-based foods have long been associated with a reduced risk of many adverse health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality.
- They have been shown to support a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight. Being rich in fibre – they help with satiety, the feeling of fullness.
- The easiest way to increase fiber intake is to eat more plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and unprocessed grains. Just one ounce of chia seeds provides 10 grams of fiber, almost half the daily recommendation for a woman over 50 years.
- Foods that are high in fiber help people to feel full for longer, and they are usually lower in calories. Increased fiber intake and a high fiber diet have been shown to help with weight loss.
- Aside from chia seeds’ fiber content, their high levels of omega-3-fatty acids and alpha-linoleic acid may be useful for weight loss. (However, evidence is scant.)
- Increased fiber intake has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- A review of 67 separate controlled trials found that even a modest 10-gram per day increase in fiber intake reduced LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, as well as total cholesterol.
- Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation. In this way, it may decrease the risk of inflammation- related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.
Chia Seed For Digestion and Detox
A diet with adequate fiber prevents constipation and promotes regularity for a healthy digestive tract. Regular bowel movements are crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool.
Chia seeds are relatively easy to find in any major grocery store. They are black and white in color and they have a mild, nutty flavor.
Raw, they can be sprinkled on cereal, salad, pudding, yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies. They can also be eaten cooked, added to baked goods like bread and muffins. Chia seeds can be eaten cooked or raw, but they should be added to another food or soaked before eating.
Chia seeds can absorb up to 27 times their weight in water. Use chia gel to bind veggie patties or as a thickener in soups. Mix ground chia into flour to boost nutrients in baked goods like muffins, cookies and cakes. Chia can add fluffiness to gluten-free menu items like waffles and pancakes, too.
In vegan and egg-free backed goods, they can replace eggs. To use them as an egg substitute in baking, try mixing 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water, then let them sit for a few minutes. A gel will form that can be used instead of eggs in baking.
According to Heal With Food, they explain that the chia seed side effects, “range from constipation and hard stools to diarrhea, bloating and excessive intestinal gas.” These gastro issues may affect your body, but thankfully there’s a way to eat chia seeds that might be able to help you avoid any stomach pain.
If you don’t eat chia seed already, you should definitely consider adding them to your diet. Chia is among the few superfoods worthy of the title.