All About Chia
The Ancient Chia Seed
- How it Can Benefit Your Health
have probably heard how important it is to get enough essentials fatty
acids (EFAs) in your diet. Some good food sources containing omega-3
and omega-6 fatty acids include fish, shellfish, flax seeds, leafy green
vegetables and walnuts. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to obtain enough
of these fatty acids on a daily basis. Recently, an ancient seed has regained
popularity due to its high nutritional value.
may know Chia as the sprouts that grow on the porous clay figurines called Chia
Pets, however there is much more to it than that! Chia has both nutritional and
medicinal benefits. The seeds are an excellent source of essential fatty acids
and are a great addition to a healthy diet.
introduction to Chia seeds came when a friend brought me some Chia seed
chocolate pudding form the local health food store. It had the texture of
tapioca and was quite delicious. The pamphlet touted the many health benefits
and curious, I was inspired to look further into this interesting seed.
is a member of the mint family. The seeds are either white or black and both
types are highly nutritious. (The white chia has an extra gram of protein per
serving and the black has a extra gram of fiber per serving). Originally grown
in Mexico and the Southwest between 1500 and 910 B.C., Chia seeds were an
important part of the Aztec and Mayan diet. Aztec warriors used Chia as their
main source of fuel during conquests. Medicinally, they also used it to relieve
joint pain and stimulate saliva. Although once a major crop in Mexico, it was
banned after the Spanish conquest due to its association with Aztec religion
where it was used as an offering during religious ceremonies and ritual.
Commercial production is increasing and you can now find Chia seeds at FoodWise®.
Chia (Salvia hispanica) - 10 Health Benefits of This
EFAs are known to make cell membranes more flexible and efficient making
nutrients more readily available and nerve transmission more efficient. This
helps to improve brain function (including memory and concentration).
Chia seeds can help reduce blood pressure. The seeds contain one of the
highest known plant sources of essential fatty acids (omega-3 and
omega-6). EFAs cannot be synthesized by our bodies however, it is very
important that we get enough to support our immune, cardiovascular,
nervous and reproductive systems. EFA deficiency is quite common in North
Chia seeds slow down the rate at which complex carbohydrates are digested
and then assimilated into the body. The soluble fiber helps to stabilize
blood glucose levels resulting in steady, sustained energy. In one study
on diabetic patients, Dr. Vladamir Vuksan of St. Michael's Hospital in
Toronto, found that blood was thinner and less prone to clotting and blood pressure
of participants dropped significantly, after three months of taking Chia
The word “Chia” comes from the Mayan language and means strength. Chia
seeds are a balanced blend of protein, carbohydrates, fats and fiber. It
is said that 1 tablespoon of Chia can sustain a person for 24 hours. Athletes have
reported that Chia seeds help them perform at optimal levels for much
longer periods of time.
A number of arthritis sufferers have reported reduced pain and
inflammation after a few weeks of taking Chia seeds. The high
concentration of omega-3 helps to lubricate joints and keep them supple.
Additionally, Omega-3s are converted into prostaglandins which are known
to have both pain relieving and anti-inflammatory effects.
The essential fatty acids contained in Chia seeds helps to boost
metabolism and promote lean muscle mass. The seeds are sometimes added to
food to provide bulk and nutrients while adding very few calories. For
these reasons, many people have found Chia quite useful in weight loss and
Similar to psyllium, the swelling action of Chia in the body helps to
cleanse and soothe the colon, and absorb toxins while lubricating and
strengthening peristaltic action.
Chia seeds contain about 20% protein, a higher percentage than found in
many other grains such as wheat and rice. Chia seeds
contain strontium which helps to assimilate protein and produce high energy.
Chia seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants containing even more
antioxidants than fresh blueberries. The high amounts of antioxidants in
Chia seeds also keeps the oils from going rancid - contributing to a long
Fiber and Other Nutrients
Besides EFAs, Chia seeds also provide fiber, iron, calcium, niacin,
magnesium, zinc and phosphorus.
2 tablespoons of Chia = 7 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 205
milligrams of calcium, 5000 mg of omega-3, 1500 mg omega-6