News & tips on health, fitness and nutrition

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Chia seeds

The chia seeds are “super” because, like a superfruit, they deliver the maximum amount of nutrients with minimum calories. They have several of the same benefits as the more well-known “super seed” flax, but unlike flax seed, you don’t need to grind them to reap the health benefits. The nutritional benefits of chia include fiber, omega fatty acids, calcium, antioxidants and much more – even protein!

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Chia seeds have 
  • 30% more antioxidants than blueberries.
  • 6 x more calcium than whole milk.
  • 15 x more magnesium than broccoli.
  • 25% more fibre than flax seeds.
  • 8 x more omega 3 than salmon.
  • 3 x more iron than spinach.
Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico. You may have seen chia sprouts growing on the novelty planters called Chia Pets, but historically, the seeds have been the most important part of the plant. In pre-Columbian times they were a main component of the Aztec and Mayan diets and were the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors.

Chia is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seeds. And it has another advantage over flax: chia is so rich in antioxidants that the seeds don't deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid. And, unlike flax, they do not have to be ground to make their nutrients available to the body. Chia seeds also provide fiber (25 grams give you 6.9 grams of fiber) as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc.


Another advantage: when added to water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, chia forms a gel. Researchers suggest that this reaction also takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar.

Chia has a nutlike flavor. You can mix seeds in water and add lime or lemon juice and sugar to make a drink known in Mexico and Central America as "chia fresca." As with ground flax seeds, you can sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds on cereal, in yogurt or salads, eat them as a snack, or grind them and mix them with flour when making muffins or other baked goods. I find them tasty and an interesting addition to my diet.

Chia is undergoing something of a renaissance after centuries of neglect. It was a major crop in central Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C. and was still cultivated well into the 16th century, AD, but after the Spanish conquest, authorities banned it because of its close association with Aztec religion (Indians used the seeds as offerings in rituals).

more on chia seeds; chia pudding recipe
  • According to studies, Chia possesses the highest percentage of the polyunsaturated fatty acids (linolenic and linoleic) of all crops. Chia seeds contain 60% omega 3 fatty acids. 
  • The protein content of Chia is higher that other nutritional grains. Unlike other grains, it is a complete protein, meaning that it has the appropriate balance of all essential amino acids. About 19 to 23% of chia seeds weight is protein. 
  • Chia seeds are high in fiber, a 15 gm serving of chia seeds will provide 4 to 5 gm of fiber. Our body requires at least 35 gm of fiber a day to stay healthy. 
  • Chia seeds contain boron which is essential for bone health. 
  • Chia seeds are rich in calcium, about 2 oz of chia seeds contains 600 mg of Calcium, as compared to 120 mg for a cup of milk. 
  • Chia seeds have 2 times more potassium than banana. 
  • Chia seeds have 3 times more antioxidants than blueberries
One of the four main Aztec crops at the time of Columbus’s arrival in the New World, chia is now a forgotten food of the Americas. Chia seed oil offers the highest omega-3 fatty acid content available from plants, but today this species is known only for its use in "chia pets." Yet pre-Columbian civilizations used chia as a raw material for medicines and nutritional compounds, while chia flour could be stored for years as a food reserve and was valued as a source of energy on long journeys.
In this book, agronomist Ricardo Ayerza and agricultural engineer Wayne Coates trace the long and fascinating history of chia’s use, then reveal the scientific story of the plant and its modern potential. They compare fatty acid profiles of chia with our other major sources—fish oil, flaxseed, and marine algae—and provide evidence that chia is superior in many ways.

Here are just some of the benefits that chia provides:
- chia has the highest known percentage of alpha-linolenic acid, and the highest combined alpha-linolenic and linoleic fatty acid percentage of all crops
- chia has more protein, lipids, energy, and fiber—but fewer carbs—than rice, barley, oats, wheat, or corn—and its protein is gluten-free
- chia is an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and copper
- chia is low in sodium: salmon has 78 times as much, tuna 237 times as much
- chia exhibits no evidence of allergic response, even in individuals with peanut and tree-nut allergies
- chia doesn’t give off a “fishy flavor,” unlike some other sources of omega-3 fatty acid
The need to balance the essential fatty acid content of the human diet, combined with the need for a safe, renewable, omega-3 fatty acid source, positions chia to become one of the world’s important crops.



Gram for gram, chia seeds are a superior source of many nutrients 

• Perfect Ratio of Omega-3 & Omega-6: Chia seeds provide the highest amounts of vegetarian Omega-3’s, and offer an ideal Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio of 3:1. These essential fatty acids may promote cardiovascular and neurological health, aid in skin repair, and may help to normalize cholesterol, sugar levels, and blood pressure.

• High Quality Protein: Chia seeds are a great vegetarian source of high quality protein containing all essential amino acids. They are perfect for vegetarians and people missing protein in their diets. This protein is more easily absorbed and digested than animal derived proteins.

• Richest Whole Food Source of Fiber: Just one serving of our seeds provides 20% of the daily recommended intake of fiber. Chia contains insoluble and soluble fiber, which may assist in helping to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as aid with digestion, detoxification, and weight loss.





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