Chia seeds have been cultivated in South America for generations and in recent years have become very popular in the United States. In the UK Chia seeds till now have been an ingredient for some breads in very tiny amounts. However, now the policies have been changed so Chia can get its place in the seed market. How strong an opponent is this seed? Are they any better than others? Are they that “super” as it has been claimed recently by the media? Are they a “super-food”? It is hard to answer no to this question.
Firstly let’s look at the nutritional data (on the right). 100g is a lot of seeds but if you look at the benefits of eating walnuts, for the same 100g they have much more calories coming from fat and provide less vitamins and minerals. This already is the first and very obvious reason to prefer using Chia. Adding seeds to meals, snacks and drinks in general is a good way to boost nutritional value to your food as well.
In nature the plant which develops from Chia seed is able to grow extremely quickly, therefore it has been approved as an excellent crop alternative. The ability of a plant to grow quickly and being naturally resistant against illnesses is in its DNA – in the seed. Chia seeds are packed with Calcium which has similar effects to those described in the benefits of eating cheese. The main points though, are that Calcium improves bones and the health of our nervous systems.
Iron is essential for the production of blood which is very significant for women and for recovering after illnesses and traumas. Deficiency of Iron is linked to anaemia , however too much Iron can cause genetic defects and intoxication therefore if you are planning to consume a lot of Chia seeds alongside other Iron rich foods like meat and pulses be careful not to exceed the Daily Allowance of 45mg.
From 100g of Chia seeds you will get 24% of the recommended daily vitamin C intake. Although with our Western diets we don’t tend to experience deficiencies of vitamins C, A and Iron, they are essential nutrients which take part in many metabolic reactions in our bodies. Chia seeds therefore are an excellent tool for helping your body to boost its metabolism.
Another beneficial ingredient is the dietary fibre – hardly digestible carbohydrate which has no nutritional benefits but has a huge impact in other ways. Fibre stimulates the digestion and makes it work harder thus with intake of other food it will help make other micronutrients more available for absorption. It has been approved to enhance the intestinal activity. Thus making the digestive enzymes to be excreted more, the hard process of metabolising cholesterol falls easier. Usually it is hard to break down dietary cholesterol as it has lipid structure and tends to float around in the blood which causes risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke etc.
The Omega-3 fatty acids will also contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system as they exchange “bad” fats (saturated) for “good”(polyunsaturated) fats. Chia seeds also contain Potassium and Boron, which contribute to the absorption of Magnesium and Calcium.
High Blood Glucose Level (BGL) and High Blood Pressure (HBP) can be directly regulated by adding Chia to your diet. The soluble and insoluble fibre helps to decrease the speed of absorption of Glucose in blood thus BGL and HBP will be much more gradual and wil not rise quickly. The same fibre also contributes to weight loss as because of the slow absorption you will feel full for longer.
In the combination of all the described properties of Chia seeds there are many closely and more far related health benefits. Essentially they just provide almost everything we need. We would highly recommend people to consume these seeds if their Balanced diet doesn’t provide them. Such people would be vegetarians, vegans, people who suffer from food-intolerances. But why shouldn’t we all just start to eat 2 cups of Chia a day and nothing else? The answer is: we could, that’s how good this product is. The problem is that we will always like to enjoy different varieties of food, tastes, aromas, colours and temperatures. Even though Chia seeds are small; they are nutritious and will contribute to your calorie intake as well. On the other hand people who are crazy for fast weight-loss regimes might want to consider consuming Chia as they will not get malnourished in the periods of food amount reduction.
Benefits of eating Chia seeds:
- Help to lose weight
- Might prevent Cancer (antioxidant properties)
- Help to keep Glucose level in Blood stable
- Prevent Diabetes
- Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
- Contribute to bone and muscle growth
- Great source of Energy
- Maintain a healthy digestive system
- Improves mental health
- Prevents strokes
- Lowers Cholesterol levels
- Enhances metabolism
Plus there are probably many more.. add in comments if you have heard about other benefits of eating Chia seeds!