Health & Life
Chia Seeds (Salvia Hispanica): Benefits, Side Effects, Nutrition
Chia seeds are harvested from the Salvia hispanicaplant, a type of sage in the mint family. The seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids and have versatile uses in the kitchen. Chia seeds were a staple of the ancient Aztec diet, and they are now grown commercially in Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico. Australia is the biggest producer of chia seeds, which is now marketed under various names. Even the oil extracted from chia seeds are found to have a high nutritional value. Both, seeds and oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antoxidants and amino acids.
Chia seeds may be eaten raw or prepared in a number of dishes. Raw, they are an excellent source of dietary fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds may be ground into pinole, a meal that can be used for porridge or baked goods. They may also be soaked in fruit juice or water to make a dish known as chia fresca in Mexico. Chia seeds are very absorbent and develop a gelatinous texture when soaked in water.
In recent decades, chia has seen a resurgence in popularity and has been hailed as a “super food” with many dietary benefits. It helps the body retain fluids and electrolytes, it forms a gel in the stomach that slows the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, and it helps build muscle and other tissues. Chia is a source of protein and boron, which aids in the absorption of calcium. Chia seeds can be used to make a gel that one can substitute for oil or other fats in a variety of recipes. Chia gel can be added to any sauces, jellies, or baked goods, for example.
Making a batch of chia gel is simple. Chia seeds absorb nine times their weight in water, so use a ratio of nine parts water to one part chia seeds. Put the water in a sealable plastic bowl and slowly pour in the seeds while whisking with a wire whisk to prevent clumps. Let stand for a few minutes before whisking again, repeat this process once, then seal the bowl and store the gel in the refrigerator. It will last up to two weeks.
The seeds are not the only important part of the chia plant. The sprouts are also edible and can be used in salads, sandwiches, and other dishes, much like bean sprouts. Chia sprouts may be most familiar to some as the green “fur” of the Chia Pet, a collectible animal-shaped clay figurine.
There are many reasons as to why chia seeds are said to be healthy and nutritious. The seeds are very low in cholesterol and sodium. So they are considered good for health. They are easy to digest (easier to digest than flax seeds which require grinding) and they contain more nutrients than flax seeds or salmon. Chia seeds are a good source of calcium and phosphorus, and a very good source of dietary fiber and manganese. The seeds are packed with protein, complex carbohydrates (good carbs), essential fats, various vitamins like B vitamins and minerals like calcium, copper, zinc, etc. They are high in antioxidants which strengthen the immune system and keep you disease-free. The seeds provide energy to both mind and body. Given below are details regarding nutrients found in one ounce (approximately 28 g) of chia seeds. Take a look at the table which explains chia seeds nutritional value.
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Chia Seed Benefits: 10 Reasons To Add Chia To Your Diet
h-ch-ch-chia! The fuzzy green novelty items may be the first thing you think of when you hear the word chia, but these tiny superfood seeds are the reason Chia Pets get their lush coating. Nowadays, chia is becoming better known as a great source of healthy omega-3 fats and fibre, and fortunately it’s an easy food to add to your diet.
Chia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family that’s native to Mexico and Guatemala, and history suggests it was a very important food crop for the Aztecs. It’s remained in regular use in its native countries, but was largely unknown in North America until researcher Wayne Coates began studying chia as an alternative crop for farmers in northern Argentina about 29 years ago.
Coates started his work on chia in 1991, and since then has become an advocate of the tiny seed’s health benefits. The human trials are limited —as is often the case with food research— but the anecdotal evidence of chia’s positive health effects include boosting energy, stabilizing blood sugar, aiding digestion, and lowering cholesterol.
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Why chia seeds are today’s ‘it’ food
They are packed with nutrition, but experts caution that they are still no substitute for a balanced diet
CHIA seeds’ Omega-3 fatty acids are much higher than salmon, they’re a good source of complete protein, have more fiber than flax seed and contain a wealth of antioxidants and minerals. ANNE A. JAMBORA
Runners believe it makes them go the extra mile, bodybuilders swear it helps them build more muscle mass. Heck, even ancient Aztec warriors are believed to have sustained their energy with just a tablespoon of this exotic seed.
If you’ve been working out in the gym recently, chances are you’ve heard about the mighty chia seeds. But are chia seeds really the superfood many claim them to be, or is their sudden rise to popularity a mere product of clever marketing?
The fitness industry took interest in chia seeds when American author and journalist Christopher McDougall wrote about it in his 2009 New York Times Bestseller book “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Ever Seen.”
In the book, McDougall documented the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico, who ran ultra marathons (typically a distance of more than 100 km) at incredible speeds with minimal or no injuries at all.
The tribe’s choice of energy drink? A “home-brewed Red Bull,” wrote McDougall, called chia fresca, made of chia seeds mixed in water with sugar and lime. A tablespoon of chia, McDougall wrote, “is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach and human growth hormone.”
Wrote the author, “If you had to pick just one desert island food, you couldn’t do much better than chia, at least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol and reducing your risk of heart disease; after a few months on the chia diet you could probably swim home.”