According to Wikipedia: “Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, Lamiaceae, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala”.
It’s an ancient seed that dates back to the 16th Century and is thought to be used by the Aztecs. The seeds themselves are harvested from the flowers and can be used for multiple purposes, which we’ll cover in more detail soon.
As can be seen by the nutrition table below, chia seeds are full of fiber, healthy fats such as omega 3, protein, and loads of vitamins and minerals. In fact, as far as seeds go, they really are a ‘complete’ food source so we can see why it’s been eaten for centuries.
Chia Seed Nutrition Facts
2. Chia Seeds Are Full Of Healthy Fat
As you can see from the chia seed nutrition profile above, they contain quite a lot of fat, 30.7 g per 100 g. Now while this might have you worried, don’t be because they contain super healthy fats.
According to a study by Mathaus and Ozcan, alpha linolenic acid (59.4 to 65.7 g/100 g) is the main fatty acid in chia seeds, which happens to be an essential omega 3 fatty acid. We need more of these in our diet because most of us just don’t get enough of them. They also contain linoleic acid (15.9 to 20.9 g/100 g) and oleic acid (8.5 to 10.7 g/100 g) , again both healthy forms of fats. Oleic acid in particular has powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, amongst other things.
On top of this they also contain a healthy amount of the fat soluble vitamin E, “ranging from 82.8 to 536.5 mg/kg”.
And like Mathaus and Ozcan conclude, the seeds or oil from chia provide “high-value products for healthy nutrition”, so go ahead and eat that healthy fat!
3. Great Source Of Vegetarian Protein
Vegetarians do have lots of alternatives for protein and chia seeds just happen to be one of them. With 17 g protein per 100 g serve you can definitely see these little guys become a regular part of your vego eating routine. And even if you’re not vegetarian they will still provide a great source of protein to help keep you fuller longer.
4. Chia Seeds Help Reduce Inflammation
Over the past few years there’s been a great deal of research that shows inflammation is at the core of many health conditions. I did my Masters thesis on the topic of inflammation and nutrition, and it’s always fascinated me ever since just how many things inflammation is involved in.
One of the main nutrients studied for anti-inflammatory benefits is omega 3, and as can be seen by the nutrition info on chia above, chia contains 17.8 g of omega 3 fats per 100 g. This omega 3 comes from alpha-linoleic acid, which doesn’t convert to the usable forms of EPA & DHA as well as eating something like salmon, but it does still provide benefits.
Dietary fiber is also known as an anti-inflammatory agent – something that chia also contains a lot of. And the fact that it has great antioxidant power only contributes to it’s anti-inflammatory power as well.
5. Chia Seeds Provide High Levels Of Antioxidants
Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidant capacity and “these antioxidants protect the sensitive fats in the seeds from going rancid”. Source
Antioxidants are very important because they help fight free radicals and prevent oxidative stress and damage to the body. Too many free radicals cause damage to the bodies cells and leads to the development of many conditions. Chia can donate stable molecules to those free radicals and make them normal again, preventing further damage or decline in our health.
While browsing for info I also came across a study published onDr Axe’s site and as Dr Axe states: “Researchers from Mexico uncovered that chia seeds had a total natural phenolic (antioxidants) concentration nearly two times higher than previously reported, and the antioxidant activity was shown to stop up to 70% of free radical activity.”
6. Chia Seeds For Constipation
In a study where people took a supplement of psyllium husks and chia seeds, the outcome was definitely better bowel movements.
As Dr Barbara Bowen, IBS expert says: “When chia seeds absorb water, they take on a gel-like consistency. This may help with optimal stool formation, in other words, keeping stools more moist and easy to pass”.
There’s no solid evidence on chia and constipation but given that it does contain nearly 35 g fiber per 100 g, these tiny seeds are definitely going to help get things moving. The important thing to remember when introducing more high fiber foods is to make sure you drink lots of water. If you don’t you can end up making matters worse. Adding the extra fiber is the right move to make, but you need the water to really help flush things out. Continue Reading >> Page 2