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Chia Seeds: Health Benefits

Believers believe the legendary health benefits of chia seeds. My understanding of chia seeds and its health benefits is based on what a few people around me have told me. Yes! Google and reference books also helped.

Nutrition dense, generally termed as the super food, chia seeds have become one of the most popular item in nutritional value list. Organically grown, a non-GMO gluten free product, chia seeds is fortified with omega-3 fatty acids and other vital minerals, nutrients and fibers, making it one of the most nutritious food on the planet.

Origin of Salvia hispanica chia seeds

Chia seeds are basically the product of Mexico and are grown there in abundance. Chia means ‘strength’ in the Mayan language and hence it is termed as ‘runner’s food’.

Nutritional Value of Chia seeds

Chia seeds are a high source of fiber, iron, calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. They contain 18 of the 22 amino acids, and all of the 9 essential amino acids. The most abundant minerals present in chia seeds are copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, and calcium. They contain no sugar and are a poor source of vitamins. 

As per the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, 28 gm of chia seeds, contains 131 calories, 4.4 gm of proteins, 10.6 gm of fiber, 13 gm of carbohydrates, 0.6 gm of manganese, 8.4 gm of fat, 4915 mg of total omega-3 fatty acids, 1620 mg of total omega-6 fatty acids, 265 mg of phosphorus, 44.8 mg of potassium, 17 mg of calcium, 1 mg of zinc, 0.1 mg of copper, 2.2 gm of iron, and 5 mg of sodium. 

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

The health benefits of chia seeds are immense and a few of the same are listed below…

1/10. Intake of Chia seeds will improve and increase the energy level

This tiny black seeds have immense impact on the body. Chia seeds increase the metabolism process and synthesize proteins and vitamins in the body to provide the necessary nutrition. A single serving (1 ounce or 28 g) of Chia seeds contain the following constituents.

2/10. Promotes Skin Health

1. The presence of omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds helps in boosting circulation and decreasing skin inflammation and dryness. Omega-3 fatty acids also aid in offering skin protection from UV radiation.

2. The anti-inflammatory properties of chia seeds prevent wrinkles and decrease sagging of the skin.

3. The highantioxidant content of chia seeds helps in repairing the skin from daily oxidative stress and preventing premature aging that is caused by free radical damage.  

3/10. Antioxidants help lower risk of Heart Disease and Type 11 Diabetes

Laden with antioxidant properties, Chia seeds, helps to sustain good health. Production of antioxidants in a body is very important to combat the spread of free radicals.

Chia seeds, being a great source protect the building of fats inside the body and at the same time protects from cancerous cells, ageing, help maintain a good heart and a clear mind. Anti oxidative nature of Chia seeds also helps patients suffering from Type II Diabetes.

4/10. Ideal for healthy weight loss and even for patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.

An interesting research understanding is that Chia seeds is almost Carb free food as a small serving of it has 11 g of fiber content compared to 12 g of carbohydrate present. Also, fibre present in those seeds increases up to 10-12 times their original size, gradually expanding in your stomach. Advantage is that, these seeds in the stomach in an expanded form create fullness and the absorption process cuts down the necessity of any unwanted munching.

5/10. A good source of protein, it can help in the muscle building mechanism.

Chia seeds are a good source of protein. There is also a balanced amount of amino acids present which will make the resourceful up-taking of protein from the food by the body. It is seen that Chia seed has by far the most amount of protein compared to other plant products.

6/10. For a good and healthy heart and low cholesterol levels, Omega-3 fatty acid is a must

Adequate quantity of Omega – 3 Fatty acids means good and healthy Heart. In fact, Chia seeds contain the most amount of Omega-3 compared to salmon, which is considered as the best source.

Chia seeds produce ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid), which unfortunately, cannot be naturally produced within the human body. So, taking an Omega-3 supplement is always recommended.

7/10. Patients suffering from osteoporosis or any bone related problem can get benefitted a lot by taking Chia seeds in their daily diet

Chia seeds contain calcium which is more than any dietary products. So, in a word it can create wonders for people having low bone density or any problems related to bone. Also the presence of phosphorus and other minerals, tend to increase the absorption capacity of calcium from the food.

8/10. Different mineral sources make the healthy set of teeth

Zinc has an antibacterial effect on the teeth and destroys the plaque causing bacteria that causes tartar in the teeth. Eating Chia seeds will also protect the mouth from any bacterial infection and bad breath.

9/10. Improves exercise performance even without the intake of sugary health drinks

Replace energy booster drink with a spoonful of Chai seeds. Experiments conducted with Gatorade, a sugar laced energy drink on one side, and Chia seeds on the other, during a vigorous exercise regime, show the same ‘beneficial’ effect. This effectively proves the ‘Carb effect’ of Chia seeds in athletes.

10/10. Other possible Benefits

Chia seeds produce numerous health benefits, apart from the health benefits mentioned above, it also produces few more such as lowers the risk of heart disease, reduces chronic inflammation,aids digestion, boosts metabolism, lowers cholesterol levels, fights breast & cervical cancer, prevents constipation, enhances heart health, treats diverticulosis, supports healthy blood lipid levels, boosts energy, enhances mood, good for teeth, improves sleep, and reduces blood pressure.

Though never been a part of Indian Diet, Chia seeds, in the last few decades have become an integral part of Indian food and diet system due to its various health benefits. Chia seeds are tough to source in smaller cities, so can be easily replaced with Amaranth seeds.

How To use Chia Seeds in your Diet?

Chia seeds can be easily added to various dishes. They can be consumed raw in the soaked form, powdered form, or as the whole seed. Some of the ways in which chia seeds can be added in the diet are as follows: –

  • As chia pudding.
  • As Chia Sprouts.
  • As Egg Replacer.
  • Added in cereals. 
  • Added in beverages.
  • Sprinkled over salads, or dips.
  • Used in making bread, cakes, muffins, or granola bars. 
  • Added in soups, shakes, smoothies, cold coffee, oatmeal, sauces, yoghurt, or porridge.

How to make Patriotic Coconut Berry Chia Seed Pudding?

Take ½ cup of yogurt, ¾ cup of coconut milk, ¼ cup of chia seeds, 2 tablespoons of pure honey, 1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/3 cup toasted flaked, unsweetened coconut, 2 teaspoons coconut butter, 1 teaspoon coconut oil and a pinch of salt. Whisk them all together thoroughly. 

Wrap the bowl with a plastic cover and place it in the fridge to chill and thicken.

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