Chia seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition. The West is only just waking up to their numerous health benefits. These seeds are actually quite ancient and have been used since centuries for various health reasons. The Mayan, Aztec and Inca civilizations used chia seeds for stamina and energy before leaving for long hunts. In this guide, we will study Chia seeds benefits, nutritional content and how to use them for weight loss.
What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are known by various different names including chia sage, chia pet seeds, salvia hispanica and California chia. As stated above, primitive civilizations used these seeds for helping them with long term sustenance on hunts. Native Indians were known to use their poultice for treating wounds and skin infections. Today, chia seeds are being embraced as a superfood owing to numerous nutritional benefits such as : fiber for weight loss, essential fatty acids like Omega 3 for heart health,for boosting performance, maintaining blood glucose levels, balancing hormones etc. Chia seeds in water have a unique ability of forming a gelatinous substance which is great for adding to shakes, smoothies, and health drinks.
Chia seeds benefits
Total calories in 1 tbsp of chia seeds is only 69 calories.
Omega 3 essential fatty acids
Chia seeds contain 26-30% oil by weight. They have the highest content of ALA or alpha lipoic acid which is converted by the human body into EPA and DHA. Chia seeds contain 8.7 times the omega 3 content in wild Atlantic salmon.
1 tbsp of chia seeds can provide you with 5 grams of fiber. The soluble fiber in chia seeds is beneficial for heart health and digestion. It prevents constipation and reduces bad cholesterol.
These tiny seeds can provide you with 2 grams of proteins per tablespoon. This is nearly 5% of the recommended daily intake for a 2000 calorie-per day diet. Proteins provide us with amino acids which are necessary for building muscles and repairing worn out tissues.
The most important aspect of Chia seed nutrition is its high mineral content. An ounce of chia seeds mixed with milkshake can provide you with 500 mg of calcium which is nearly half of the daily recommended value for an average adult. The calcium content of chia seeds is 5.4 times that of 2% milk. They also contain moderate amounts of zinc and iron as well as magnesium and boron. The iron content of Chia seeds is 2.7 times more than that in raw spinach.
The high antioxidant content of chia seeds is beneficial in protecting against cancers, and free radical damage that leads to premature aging. The seeds contain vitamins B, D and E and it is believed that their antioxidant content is greater than that of blueberries.
Chia seeds uses
Chia seeds weight loss
Many double-blind, controlled studies have been conducted on Chia for their ability to aid weight loss. The seeds are very filling, and the more you eat them, the lesser will be your desire to eat fatty or junk food. The total calorie content of chia is also low. Besides this, they are low in sodium and have zero cholesterol. Chia also promote hydration owing to their ability to hold on to 12 times their weight in water. With regular consumption of chia seeds, weight loss is possible as it helps in metabolism and maintenance of electrolytes.
Among many Chia seeds uses, endurance building is an important one. If you exercise regularly, you must make chia a part of your daily diet. It is no wonder that ancient Mayans and Aztec civilizations used these seeds for building strength and stamina on their hunts. In fact; the word chia is Mayan for ‘strength’. The higher energy to weight ratio of chia makes it a popular superfood for runners and athletes.
Stabilizes blood sugar
The soluble fiber in chia has a blood glucose stabilizing effect. As your blood sugar levels remain stable, so do your energy levels.
Gluten free superfood for people with allergies
Even people with nut or peanut allergies and other food sensitivities can easily digest these seeds.
Ideal superfood for menopausal women
This superfood contains Boron which is known to increase estrogen levels. As our soil is boron depleted, we do not get adequate boron through our diet. Chia seeds can help overcome boron deficiency.
Chia seeds recipes
- Soak chia seeds in water for 10 minutes until plump. Use their gelatinous texture to enhance your milkshakes, smoothies and other healthy foods. Add plump chia seeds to porridge, oatmeal, yogurt, cereals and fruit salads.
- You can also add chia seeds to baked goods. Replace nearly 25% of the oil or butter in your baked recipes with these seeds.
- The seeds are great with honey, maple syrup or milk; add them dry to these ingredients and let stand overnight.
- Chia Fresca– This is an energizing lemony drink with chia that is ideal for weight loss. Add 1-2 tbsp chia seeds to 12 ounces of cold water with 2-3 tbsp of lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add sweetener of your choice.
Chia seeds benefits are numerous. Add them to your daily weight loss diet and see the difference!