Chia seeds are the seeds of the plant Salvia hispanica. They are tiny seeds that come in white, grey, brown and black colours. The ancient running messengers used it as an energy food and so it is also called the “Indian Running Food”.
These little seeds have a longer shelf life than most other seeds including flax seeds. They have phenomenal health benefits as they have unique combination of nutrients.
- Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than flax seeds: The high levels of omega-3 & omega-6 fatty acids lower the LDL and raise the HDL levels. It is believed that the action of omega-3 fatty acids is almost at par with the statins that are given for this purpose. The seeds also contain long chain triglycerides which are large molecules that help to brush off the cholesterol deposits from the arterial walls.
- Seeds have 20% protein, 34 % dietary fibre, high levels of antioxidants: The protein is a complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids.
- Chia seeds have a fibre content of more than 36% and the remarkable ability to absorb ten times its weight in water, making it a wonderful way to stay hydrated. By hydrating the colon – it makes it easier for your digestive system to move food through the gut and be eliminated in a timely manner.
- High in antioxidants (It has a four times higher ORAC value than blueberries): Chia seeds contain a good amount of quercetin – an antioxidant known for reducing inflammation – which supports a long, healthy life. Eating a plant-based diet can prevent intestinal disease; improve brain function and increase your energy.
- Gluten free and have low sodium, thus making it suitable for gluten sensitive person.
- High in calcium, potassium, iron and vitamin C: Chia contains five times more calcium than milk, twice the potassium content of banana, seven times more vitamin C than oranges, three times more iron than spinach. The presence of boron helps in the absorption and assimilation of calcium. It is food for healthy skin, hair and nails.
- Good for weight watchers: The soluble fibre in chia seeds forms a gel in the stomach and along with the insoluble fibre this adds roughage and bulk. Since the gel slows down digestion and movement of food, it causes the feeling of fullness to last longer thus controlling hunger and overeating resulting in weight loss.
- Good for Diabetics: The hydrophilic soluble fibre in Chia seeds can absorb water, almost 10 times it weight. The resultant gel in the digestive system creates a sort of barrier between the carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes. This results in slower conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. Due to this sugar levels in the blood don’t spike and this benefits in regulating blood sugar levels.
Studies indicate that for adults 2 tablespoons (about 20 grams) of chia seeds mixed in a glass of water and kept for 20 minutes and stirred a couple of times to break the clumping of seeds, make enough gel to last 1 day. Children can be given 1 tablespoon chia seeds per day.