Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from a plant Salvia hispanica. It is cultivated as food since 3500 BC, and it was offered to Aztec gods in religious ceremonies.
It also has been used by Mayan people. Actually “Chia” is an ancient Mayan word for strength. These tiny seeds are full of nutrition and provide sustainable energy.
Chia seeds are excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in anti-oxidants and they provide fiber, iron and calcium. 1 ounce or 2 tablespoon full serving of chia seeds contain 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein and 9 grams of fat (5 grams of which are omega-3 fatty acids). It also provides 18% of daily calcium needs, 27% of phosphorus, 30% of manganese and smaller quantities of copper and potassium.
U.S. dietary guidelines suggest taking 25 to 30 gm of fiber intake per day for women and men under 50yr respectively. One serving of chia seeds fulfills almost half the daily recommendation. Fiber helps with regulation of bowel movement. Also, adequate fiber intake feeds friendly gut bacteria in the intestine. A good gut flora is absolutely crucial for good health. A healthy gut flora helps in boosting immunity. New studies also have suggested its benefit in abating inflammation and obesity.
Fiber also helps in regulating high cholesterol levels. Also, high omega -3 content of chia seeds decrease LDL levels and triglyceride levels. LDL is a bad cholesterol associated with increased risk of heart and peripheral vascular disease. Reducing LDL and triglyceride levels can help in endothelial function, decrease atherosclerotic plaque and lower blood pressure.
Chia seeds can help in weight loss. Chia seeds can absorb up to 10-12 times their weight in liquid. It forms a gel which can expand in the stomach. It increases fullness and satiety. Slows absorption of food. Aids in decrease calorie consumption. I advise to combine chia seeds with real unprocessed food. It will definitely help It promote weight loss.
Chia seeds are rich in calcium and phosphorus. One daily serving can provide 18%of daily calcium needs. Calcium is very important in bone health. Gram for gram Chia has higher calcium content compared to most of the dairy products. Chia is best source of calcium for people who don’t want to consume dairy. Animal studies have also shown that Chia seeds can improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control.
Chia seeds are really a superfood, packed with energy. So please consider incorporating chia seeds in your diet. I recommend them to be soaked for atleast 15 minutes before consumption. This way they are absorbed and digested easily in their whole form. Chia is flavorless and can be added to many different foods. You can simply add it to your water and make it more flavorful by adding fresh fruits. You can add them to smoothies, oatmeal, cereal and salad dressing. I enjoy chia seed pudding as my desert. You can easily make this by adding chia seeds to any plant based milk, sprinkle some cinnamon or coco powder. Top it with fresh whip cream and berries. It’s a healthy guilt free treat and can be enjoyed as a breakfast or desert. Chia seeds also can be used as egg substitute in baking.
So if you are not eating these power seeds you definitely should consider adding them in your diet.
Chia generally don’t cause any major side effects. Make sure to soak them before consumption. In large doses they can have blood thinning effect and can interfere with absorption of other nutrients. So consume them in recommended quantity and consult with your physician.