Recently, chia seeds have become extremely popular among the health conscious community. In fact, they are now considered a “super-food”. This tiny seed was valued long before this more modern craze. The Aztecs and the Mayans prized it as an energy food. In fact, “chia” is the Mayan word for “strength. It’s no wonder, then, that this was a dietary staple in both cultures. So, what benefits does it provide and what is the nutritional value of the chia seed?
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
While research is still needed to verify the many health benefit claims that have been made about chia seeds, there is plenty of evidence to support the power of this superfood. Here’s an overview of chia and its health benefits:
- May Help Lower Blood Triglycerides: One risk factor for heart attacks and strokes is high blood levels of triglycerides. One article, published in the American Society of Nutrition even states that some research suggests chia seeds may help in lowering triglyceride levels and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- May Reduce the Risk of Diabetes: In one study, published on PubMed.gov, researchers evaluated the effects of a dietary regimen including chia seeds, nopal, soy protein, and oats. They concluded that not only did this diet lower serum triglycerides, it also lowered glucose intolerance. Glucose intolerance is the first warning of emergent diabetes.
- May Encourage Weight Loss: Many believe that chia can help you lose weight. Strictly speaking, this is not true. By themselves, chia seeds cannot help you lose weight. However, the fiber and protein in chia seeds can make you feel full more quickly and less hungry overall. In order to lose weight, you still have to maintain a healthy diet in general. However, chia can help with the weight loss regiment.
- May Reduce Cancer Risk: Researchers acknowledge that the large amounts of antioxidants in chia seeds may reduce your risk of cancer. However, most agree that the effects of chia need to be studied further, to reach a conclusive result.
Chia seeds are full of vital vitamins and minerals. Here are some examples of the amazing nutrients that they contain.
Just one ounce of chia contains:
- Manganese: 30% of the RDA
- Magnesium:30% of the RDA
- Phosphorous: 27% of the RDA
- Calcium: 18% of the RDA
Chia seeds are full of antioxidants. Antioxidants are helpful in several ways, including:
- Protecting the body against free radicals. Free radicals may contribute to aging, cancer, and molecular damage
- Protect fats in foods from becoming rancid. Rancid fats can be damaging to the body.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
It would be irresponsible to talk about chia seeds and health benefits without talking about Omega 3 fatty acids. According to the National Center for Biotechnology information, most of the ESAs in chia are actually a precursor to ELA and DHA, the ones we really need. This means you’d need to eat a lot of chia to get all of the ESAs you needed. However, they are still a decent source of fat, especially for those eating a vegan and vegetarian diet.
Chia Seeds Uses
Ancient Aztecs and Mayans used chia in drinks, ceremonies, and in medicine. They also ground them into flour and pressed them for oil. Today, people are finding their own unique uses for them.
Chia is used in recipes to give them a rich, nutty flavor. They gel when it gets wet, making them a useful sticking agent in place of eggs or flour. People use chia seeds for baking, raw food recipes, or put them in their drink to give it an extra health kick. Here’s a list of some more common uses:
- Healthy versions of pastries
- Egg replacement
Chia Seeds Recipes
Chia Seed Chocolate Pudding:
- 1.5 cups of unsweetened almond milk
- 1/3 a cup of chia seeds
- 1/4 cup of cocoa
- 2-5 tbs of maple syrup
- Sea Salt
Chia Seed Protein Pancakes
- 1/4 cup of GF all Purpose Flour
- 2 TBS of coconut Flour
- Baking Powder
- Sea Salt
- Chia Seeds
- 4 TBS of Almond Milk
Chia seeds are a versatile, nutrient-rich, and tasty superfood, whose use dates back to the ancient Aztecs and Mayas. They have many health benefits, some proven, and some that have yet to be researched. Anyone can enjoy the taste and nutritional value of chia. They’re versatile and quite tasty, which make them perfect addition to a delicious and healthy recipe. Chia seeds may be tiny, but there are huge advantages to making them a regular staple in your diet.