Chia Seeds - and its health benefits

CHIA SEEDS

Chia seeds are tiny black and white seeds native to Mexico which come from a flowering plant ‘Salvia Hispanica’ which is related to the mint family. In fact, chia comes from the Mayan word meaning ‘strength’ and these seeds were an important food for the Aztecs and Mayans as they prized their ability to fuel performance and provide long-lasting energy. Don’t be fooled by their size as they do pack a nutritional punch and they were also used for medicinal purposes.

Chia seeds are rich in nutrients and so easy to use, they can be eaten raw, soaked in juice, added to porridge, puddings, and baked goods, and even included into your smoothies, breakfasts, and yogurt, salads, quinoa and veggie dishes. They also have an amazing ability to absorb water and fat, so they can be used to thicken sauces or as a vegan egg substitute in recipes too!

Chia seeds are not grown in India and are imported from Mexico and other countries. Since the plant is not grown in India, it has no Hindi name. So chia seeds can be called as chia beej in Hindi.

Often people in India confuse chia seeds with sweet basil seeds also known as Sabja. Chia and Sabja are two different seeds. Sabja or basil seeds are locally available in India and has many health benefits but different from chia seeds.

Difference in chia seeds and Sabja /basil seeds

  • Chia seeds are gray-white in color while basil seeds are jet black
  • When soaked in water chia seeds take time to swell up while Sabja seeds swell within minutes
  • In India, chia seeds are expensive compared to Sabja

Both these seeds have different health benefits so you can include both the seeds in your diet to get benefits of both.

Chia Seeds Nutrition Profile:

The reason chia seeds are so beneficial is due to them being rich in:

  • Fiber
  • Omega-3 fats
  • Protein
  • Vitamins and minerals

For example, 28 grams (1 ounce) of chia seeds contain:

  • Energy – 137 calories
  • Carbohydrates – 12.3 grams
  • Protein – 4.4 grams
  • Fat – 8.6 grams
  • Fiber – 10.6 grams
  • Manganese – 0.6 mg
  • Phosphorus – 265 mg
  • Calcium – 177 mg
  • Zinc – 1 mg
  • Copper – 0.1 mg
  • Potassium – 44.8 mg

Chia seeds also contain:

  • Essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid
  • Vitamins A, B, E and D
  • Minerals, including sulphur, iron, iodine, manganese, magnesium, niacin and thiamine; and they’re good sources of antioxidants.

Health benefits of Chia Seeds:

  1. Great source of Omega-3 fatty acids: Chia seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds lipid profile is composed of 60% omega-3, making them one of the richest plant-based sources of these fatty acids- specifically, of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. The omega-3 in chia seeds can help reduce high cholesterol, enhance cognitive performance and reduce inflammation.
  2. Fiber: Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, with a whopping 10 grams in only 2 tablespoons. That is one-third of the daily recommended intake of fiber per day. Fiber associated with reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol and regulating bowel function.
  3. Antioxidants: Chia seeds rich sources of antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals, aging, and cancer. The high antioxidant profile also helps them have a long shelf life. They last almost 2 years without refrigeration.
  4. Minerals: 2 tablespoons of chia seeds contain 18% of the DRI for calcium, 35% for phosphorus, 24% for magnesium and about 50% for manganese. These nutrients help in preventing hypertension and maintaining a healthy weight and are important for energy metabolism and a part of DNA synthesis.
  5. Satiety (fullness): Satiety is the feeling of being full and satisfied, which helps lower food cravings between meals. Many health experts believe that chia seeds can help with weight loss. Due to The High Protein and Fiber content, they should be Able to Help You Lose Weight. The fiber absorbs large amounts of water and expands in the stomach, which should increase fullness and slow the absorption of food.
  6. Gluten-free: These Seeds contain no gluten or grains and are essential for people with celiac disease and other gastrointestinal problems.
  7. Blood sugar regulation: Chia seeds can play an important role in regulating insulin levels. They can reduce insulin resistance and decrease abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood.
  8. Good for healthy bones and teeth: Chia seeds have more calcium than most dairy products providing 18 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults in a single ounce! As well as being high in several nutrients important for bone health, including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and protein. Taking chia seeds in your diet ensures that you are maintaining bone as well as dental health, not to mention averting osteoporosis.
  9. They’re natural beauty food: The blend of nutrients in chia seeds such as healthy fats, proteins, and minerals including zinc helped to promote healthy skin, hair, and nails.
  10. Enhance mood: Chia seeds contain the amino acid tryptophan which helps improve and regulate appetite, sleep, and mood.

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