So you think chia seeds are just one of those super-food fads that cropped up fifteen minutes ago and are going to be gone sooner than you can say Acai berries, huh? Well, you couldn’t be any more wrong; in fact, they have a long-standing history and have been used therapeutically for a millennium now. The word “chia” literally means strength in Mayan. These seeds were cultivated 3,500 years ago by the Aztecs and Mayans that populated the Central American shores. They were an essential part of the diet these cultures adopted. The native people used these seeds for both medicinal purposes and as currency. Some Aztecs actually paid their taxes to the priests and noblemen in the form of these tiny seeds. So, what happened? How come humanity had to enter the third millennium to truly rediscover the potential of these nearly magical seeds?
In effect, the conquest of Mexico happened in the 16th century followed by a ban on chia seed farming which was imposed by the Spanish. The Spanish settlers had a problem with the seeds being used by ‘pagans’ in their religious ceremonies. They forced the native people to replace the seed with corn and wheat. But in 1991, Argentina decided to help local farmers diversify their crops and chose chia as one such crop. The Northwestern Argentina Regional Project brought back chia cultivation on an industrial scale. Here we are today, with a super-food seed within reach. But what is it that makes chia seeds so great? Read on and find out:
Chia Seeds as a Diet Supplement
Chia Seeds are highly nutritious. In fact, it’s one of the world’s most nutrient rich foods. Nutritionists have proven the health benefits of chia seeds beyond the shadow of a doubt. In fact, we will give you the nutritional breakdown for 100 grams of chia seeds:
- 631 mg of calcium, compared to the 125 mg in the same quantity of 1% fat milk.
- 407 mg of potassium, compared to the 358 mg in a banana with the same weight.
- 335 mg of magnesium, which is a lot more than the 21 mg in the same quantity of broccoli.
- 17 g of protein, which is about twice as much as the 9 g of protein in 100 g of kidney beans.
- 7.7 mg of iron, compared to 2.7 mg in 100g of spinach.
- 20 per cent Omega 3 ALA, eight times more than salmon.
- High in antioxidants, with an ORAC value that’s four times higher than that of blueberries.
- 945 mg phosphorous, compared to 222 mg in whole milk.
In a nutshell, you would be hard pressed to find a food that’s better for you than chia seeds seeing as it beats several other amazing super-foods. The protein rich content makes it a filling source of energy, and the other nutrients contain distinct advantages.
Chia Seeds for Body Cleanses
If you’re wondering how to use chia seeds, you should know that, together with flax seeds, they’re perfect to cleanse your body of toxins. There are two features of chia seeds that make them the perfect ingredient for body cleanses:
- They’re rich in fiber. This makes them ideal for eliminating toxins through the body’s natural processes.
- They come with a low GI score. Since they contain a significant quantity of Omega 3 fatty acids, chai seeds will not cause spikes in blood sugar levels that carbs and refined sugars will give you.
In other words, chia seeds will both keep you feeling full for a long time and boost your energy throughout the day without leaving you hungry after a few hours.
The Actual Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
It lowers cholesterol
Cholesterol comes in two forms. There’s a good type of cholesterol (HDL) and a bad one (LDL). Chia seeds contain long-chain triglycerides which literally remove the cholesterol that’s been lining the walls of your arteries. Salba, a specific type of chia seed, is especially recommended for this purpose.
As you may know, ingested carbohydrates turn into blood sugar. Try this simple experiment to understand how chia works: soak the seeds in water and leave them soaking for 15 minutes. The seeds will turn into a gel which is similar to the way in the human intestines process carbohydrates to turn them into sugar. This process is significantly slowed down for chia seeds – which brings us to the issue of how to eat chia seeds: try adding them to your favorite shake, whipping up batches of chia seed ‘milk’, puddings, or ‘yogurt’.
It boosts energy
… but does so much more effectively than sugar-rich foods like soda or chocolate. In fact, Mayan warriors ingested chia seeds before battles, as it made them more alert. The content of protein, carbohydrates, fiber and fat in chia seeds is very well balanced and the protein is slowly converted to energy. What’s more, since chia seeds can absorb as much as 30 times their weight when soaked, they will also keep the body feeling hydrated for longer times. If you work out or simply put in a lot of physical effort, chia seeds will help preserve the electrolytes in your body.
Aside from lowering cardiovascular risks, boosting your metabolism (there are 4 to 5 grams of fiber in every 15 grams of chia seeds) and helping combat aging (thanks to their antioxidant content (vitamin C, vitamin E, and cinnamic acid)), they also deal with other issues. Since they’re gluten free, they’re absolutely safe for people sensitive to this substance as well as for Celiacs. The high calcium content helps keep osteoporosis at bay. And, the Omega 3 fatty acids in chia even help combat depression!
Now, some may complain that, like many health foods, chia is not that affordable or easy to come by. But think of it this way: would you rather whittle down your waistline and improve your health (and spend that much less on health care and medical insurance), or would you rather pay a fortune on dealing with your health issues? As with all other healthy eating options, the choice is entirely yours!