Chia Seeds: referred to as magical
Chia seeds are produced by a unique flowering plant, which belongs to the mint family, is native to Guatemala and Mexico. In fact, history suggests that these seeds have been an important food in the Aztec & Mayan diets for many centuries now.
Chia seeds, otherwise known particularly within the Hispanic communities as Salvia hispanica are a naturally grown plant that is in the mint family. Historically chia seeds date back to the 16th century and can be linked to the Aztec and are cultivated in areas such as Guatemala and regions in Mexico. Currently, chia seeds have drawn the interest of numerous individuals because of its many health benefits & uses in cooking.
Chia seeds are an important staple as both a food and drink source for local communities. These plants grow to be a little over 3 feet long, with sprouting leaves attached. Most clusters are found in either purple or white. Chia seeds are a rich source of antioxidants and nutrients. Plus they can be easily consumed in various ways including roasting & grinding them into a unique floor which is referred to as chianpinolli which is made into tamales, tortilla, and beverages. Traditionally the roasted chia seeds were used as gruel which is referred to as Pinole.
The chia seed received it name because of the seed’s naturally oily texture and it is the seed that lends to an invaluable resource for human health due to the fact that the seeds are rich in omega 3 oils which humans can reap many health benefits from. Many people who eat this flowering plant will munch on the seeds raw. In addition to the omega 3’s they’re also a great source for fiber and protein.
Others choose to soak the seeds in water for periods of time until they reach a slippery and almost gel-like condition. At that point, they are then added to citrus drinks, porridges, bread or puddings and much of the population adds them to the yeast and flour which they make bread out of. The chia seed gives the bread a wonderful texture and amps up the protein and fiber value.
Because even small amounts of this seed will offer the daily requirement of protein and fiber as well as other beneficial things such as phosphorus and manganese, the chia seed is among one of the most coveted of all seeds in those regions.
Newer research has uncovered many other health benefits that stem from incorporating the chia seed into one’s diet. Omega 3’s are known to contribute to better cardiovascular and heart health and since the chia seed has plenty of Omega 3 studies reveal that daily doses of chia seeds can possibly reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
Additionally, the chia seed helps our body absorb the sugars we get from carbohydrates at a slower rate and due to that some new research claims that the chia seed may have a positive effect on diabetes and can even help those who have it manage it better.
When soaked into water the chia seed takes on a gel like texture which helps keep the body hydrated for long periods of time; many athletes swear by adding chia seeds to their water and sports hydration drinks to help them sustain their energy and stay hydrated during long training and competing sessions.
When deconstructed scientists have found that the chia seed in one serving has a greater amount of rich minerals that some of the other superfoods we gravitate to. For instance, a singular serving of chia will provide you with more potassium than a banana, more iron than a serving of spinach and more calcium than an 8 oz. glass of milk.
Unlike other seeds which tend to spoil quite quickly, the chia seed can safely be stored for years without it losing its freshness and nutritional value, which is most likely another reason why it was worshipped by cultures such as the Aztecs and Incas.
Chia Seeds and Weight Loss
There is some new evidence that is supporting the ideologies that chia seeds can be effective with weight loss for dieters. The main reason for this may be because the chia seed is mild in flavor and can be added to nearly any dish; the result is that it adds weight and consistency to the dish and the chia seed, in general, is very filling. Therefore those who use chia seeds to bulk up their food consume less of it and remain full for extended amounts of time, thereby lessening their overall caloric intake per day.
The long-lasting fullness when combining the chia seed to foods likely is a result of the magic that the seed has on its own; chia seeds can absorb water quickly and will retain it for long periods of time and therefore when consumed, hold water at length and releases it in small increments throughout the day. The result is feeling full for longer periods as well as keeping the body hydrated long after the seeds are eaten.
How Chia Works Within the Body
Chia seeds have been referred to as magical because of how they breakdown within the body. In addition to nutritional value and hydrating properties, chia seeds are easily digested and work wonders at cleansing the intestinal systems. As the seeds pass through the intestines they miraculously dislodge and carry out of the body toxins that harbor within the intestinal walls so the effects are natural cleansers, but when doing so the process isn’t as harsh as some laxatives which are used for the same purpose.
They are also gluten free which contributes to better diabetic health and for those who have diabetes, eating them won’t interfere in their glycemic index count.
Rich Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These small, white or black colored, oval shaped seeds are a very rich source of poly-unsaturated fatty acids especially the omega-3 fatty acids even more that the flax seeds. Their lipid profile is actually composed of more than 60% omega-3s, which makes them the best plant-based source of these unique fatty acids- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) to be precise.
These seeds come packed with these fatty acids, which is almost 5 grams in an ounce of serving. These omega-3s can help lower inflammation while enhancing cognitive performance & reducing high cholesterol in your body. Research has shown that the conversion of chia’s omega-3s into food or plasma is way better than that of flax seeds.
Protects Healthy Cells From Damage
These seeds are rich in different types of antioxidants which help protect our body from aging, cancer and free radicals. This is actually the main reason why these seeds can stay very fresh for a really long time. Some of the antioxidant present in chia seeds include:
Studies have shown that this antioxidant can boost energy, fitness and endurance in healthy individuals. It can increase the energy supply into your muscle and brain cells. Quercetin can protect your body against various chronic illnesses like lung cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, asthma, type-2 diabetes and cerebrovascular disease among other illnesses.
b. Chlorogenic acid
This antioxidant has anti-cancer properties which helps prevent the growth of certain brain-tumors. This antioxidant can also reduce the amount of glucose being released into your blood stream after a meal. Chlorogenic acid also improves the flow of bile thus promoting the health of your gallbladder and liver while reducing cardiovascular risks.
c. Caffeic acid
This can be used as a component to help prevent various conditions including cardiovascular diseases, colitis, inflammation and certain cancers. Caffeic acid can also help improve your immune system.
Great Source of Fiber
These seeds are a great source of fiber. An ounce serving of these seeds contains about 11 grams of dietary fiber, which is approximately a third of the recommended fiber daily intake for adults. Fiber is actually associated with regulating bowel function, lowering cholesterol and reducing inflammation in our bodies. These seeds can help improve your digestive system and compared to flax seeds, chia seeds have higher fiber content.
Compared to other nutritious seeds, Chia seeds are the best sources of fiber, antioxidant and plant-based omega-3 fatty acids available. These seeds have been consumed by some South American communities for centuries now and they are also the best source of minerals including iron, zinc, phosphorus, niacin, calcium and magnesium.