Chia seeds are relatively unknown in Europe and many other parts of the world. But Chia is considered to be a super grain and originates from Mexico . The crop produces oil seeds which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Apparently it was the power food of the ancient Aztecs and they called Chia ‘running food’. Legend says that their messengers could run all day on a handful of these seeds. The grain is now all set to make a comeback and scientific investigations support claims indicating that Chia is highly nutritious.
Types of Chia seeds
There are two different kinds of Chia. Chia plants with purple flowers yield brown seeds and is called ‘Black Chia’. Plants with white flowers yield white seeds. Both these kind of seeds are mottled. Both black and white Chia don’t have a flavor of their own and hence can be used similarly. They slightly differ in the nutritional content even though the difference is pretty small.
Likewise, antioxidants called Anthocyanins is more in brown seeds since this substance is contained more in darker foods. Even though there are these small differences, both kinds are highly nutritious. So it is best if you can have the two mixed together.
Why is Chia beneficial?
Where does health benefits of Chia seeds come from ? Chia is superior in protein quality to most known sources and also contains plenty of antioxidants. It is also the highest known source of Omega-3 fatty acids among whole foods, it is even more than flax seeds. It has got the highest fiber content of any food. . Also it is found to have 3 times more iron than in Spinach and 6 times more Calcium than milk by weight. It has more antioxidants than the blueberries which is perhaps the best antioxidant food and as much Vitamin C as contained in seven Oranges . It is also very rich in minerals such as phosphorous, calcium and manganese.
Health benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds come with amazing and numerous health benefits, some of most important and common ones are discussed in below.
Benefits against cancer and cardiovascular diseases : Chia provides high levels of strong polyphenols that maintain proper function of bodily organs and tissues. They also provide protection against cancer and cardiovascular disease by fighting against free radicals. Chia also helps in reduction of CRP which when high poses a major risk factor to heart disease.
Beneficial in losing weight : Chia seeds when left in water for some time forms a glutinous substance like the linseeds . This substance easily fills you up and is even found to clean the digestive system as it goes in. The high fiber content of the seeds ensures easy digestibility. It is also beneficial in preventing Colon cancer.
Balances blood sugar : Chia has a gelling action and a unique combination of soluble and insoluble fibers. These help in slowing down the conversion of starches to sugars in the body. Thus Chia seeds help in providing a steady and constant energy supply to our body throughout the day. Health benefits of Chia seeds are known to be extended to diabetes too.
Chia is anti-ageing : These seeds are antioxidant powerhouses and hence efficiently fight the free radicals in the body. It helps prevent conditions such as premature ageing of skin and inflammation of various tissues.
Amazing benefits of Omega-3 : Omega-3 oil is abundant in Chia and this helps in improving the health of heart and cholesterol. A recent report (conducted by USA weekend magazine) also indicates that Omega-3 helps in weight loss. Other benefit provided by the abundance of Omega-3 fatty acids is that it aids in mental health .Chia also contains Omega-6 fatty acid which is also good for health, but easily found elsewhere also.
Gluten free protein : Chia seeds provide gluten free protein. This is a critical aspect for people suffering from gluten related allergies.
- Chia seeds have a high concentration of essential fatty acids which aids in the respiration of vital organs. These EFAs cannot be manufactured by the body on its own and the supplement should come from outer sources. This makes Chia significant. These essential fatty acids also help in brain development, it also enable more efficient membrane function.
- Chia seeds can hydrate the body balance electrolyte levels by steadying water intake, assimilation and absorption.
- It has magnesium and boron which are helpful in absorption of Calcium and Vitamins.
How to use Chia seeds:
Chia seeds have no flavor of their own and can be used along with any food. They can also be used by just dissolving in water without cooking at all. This is a great advantage over flax seed which are relatively hard to digest on other hand Chia seeds when soaked in water make it like a gel. They can just be sprinkled over the foods you like to get the daily dose. Chia seeds have a long shelf life in their dry, natural state . In short, they can be stored easily and eaten as they are.
Make your own Chia Gel
Chia gel is one great way to consume nutritious Chia seeds and is very simple process:
Take 2 ounces of fresh Chia Seeds and add 6-7 times water (2 cups). Put this mixture in a jar and then stir it well for 2-3 minutes and then simply store in the refrigerator for at least 2 or 3 hours before using. This awesome chia gel can be stored and then used for 3-5 days easily.
Because of health benefits of Chia seeds, it is gaining popularity in the west as a super food and has got the potential to become an answer to several health issues spread around the world. It is not expensive either. It is known to be a complete food and for this reason, one can even sustain more or less on Chia alone, if required. Though that extreme is not required, moderate consumption of these wonder seeds can really help ensure a healthy life.