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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Benefits of Chia Seeds


Scientific Name : Salvia Hispanica
Origin : Mexico
Common Names : Chia seeds
Parts used : Seed, Leaf

Vitamins : A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B15, B17, C, D, E, K, Choline, Folic Acid, Inositol, PABA.

Minerals : Boron, Calcium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Molybdenum, Phosphorous, Potassium, Silicon, Sodium, Strontium, Sulphur, Zinc, Amylose (a slow-burning starch helpful in treating hypoglycemia), and Electrolytes.

Chia has a very good ratio of omega-3 oil to omega-6 oil; with 20-30% protein, 35% oil, 25% fiber. Gluten-free and very low-sodium. It contains the important mineral 'Boron', a catalyst for the absorption of calcium. Domesticated in the valley of Mexico as early as 2,700 B.C., Chia Seeds served as a primary staple food of the Nahuatl (Aztec), Mayan, Incan and other indigenous peoples. One spoon of seed in water was used to supply sustenance for an entire day of hard labor. Related to the Nahuatl words Chiapan (River of Chia), and Chia (energy/strength.) Its cultivation is referenced in the Florentine Codex. So highly prized were the seeds that they
were used as currency. Traditionally and presently used by the Tarahumara and Chumash of Chihuahua, the seed is roasted, crushed, and mixed with water for a gel of extremely high nutritional value used as performance
. In California, Arizona, Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua it is, mixed with a lemonade. The ground seed meal was called Pinole.

In the 1980's Chia Seeds experienced kitsch notoriety as Chia Pets; when watered, the seeds grew into green hair on terracotta figurines. Fortunately today, better use of chia has been rediscovered. The seeds contain about 20% protein, 35% oil and an impressive 25% dietary fiber. They are high in antioxidants and also offer a range of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. And as one of the richest vegetable sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.

The seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and can be enjoyed on salads, cereal, yogurt or ground up and baked into wholesome breads and muffins. A popular drink in Mexico is the chia fresca ­ made with 2 teaspoons of seeds stirred into a glass of water with lime and sugar. Chia seeds are very stable and can be easily stored without refrigeration. Chia Seeds contains much high-quality natural oil : 03-10 times that of most grains and twice the protein. Chia can substitute flax seeds. 


Chia is grown commercially for its seed, a food that is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, since the seeds yield 25–30% extractable oil, including α-linolenic acid (ALA). Chia seeds are typically small ovals with a diameter of about 1 mm (0.039 in). They are mottle-colored with brown, gray, black and white.
Chia seed is traditionally consumed in Mexico, and the southwestern United States, but is not widely known in Europe. Chia (or chian or chien) has mostly been identified as Salvia hispanica L. Today, Chia is grown commercially in its native Mexico, and in Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Australia, and Guatemala. In 2008, Australia was the world's largest producer of Chia.

Chia seed may be eaten raw as a whole seed, providing protein, fats, and fiber. Ground Chia seed is sometimes added to Pinole, a coarse flour made from toasted maize kernels. Chia seeds placed in water or fruit juice are consumed in Mexico and known as Chia Fresca.

The soaked seeds (shown above) are gelatinous in texture and are used in gruels, porridges, and puddings. Ground chia seed is used in baked goods including breads, cakes, and biscuits. Chia sprouts are used in a similar manner as alfalfa sprouts in salads, sandwiches and other dishes. Chia sprouts are sometimes grown on porous clay figurines which has led to the popular U.S. novelty item of the Chia Pet.The seeds can also be placed in water, juices or tea producing a mucilge which can be consumed as a beverage.


Benefits in consuming Chia Seeds
  1. It helps to stablise your blood sugar and remove your urge for other snack foods. The gel (after soaking) will slows down the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar and this is particularly useful for those with
    diabetic problems.

  2. It provides a huge source of Essential Fatty Acids and these are
    important for concentration and other brain functions.
  3. It also provides continuous energize and stamina  because of the enormous amount of nutrients, such as proteins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, fibre and complex carbohydrates. Often, it is also known as 'runners food' because of the good stamina and energy, for long distance runs and endurance.

  4. It will give you a constant 'full' feeling because of the 'bloating effect' in your stomach. The gel which coated the seeds will make you feel full and thus, eating less.

  5. It helps to lower your cholesterol too and thus, improves heart health.

  6. It enhances good digestive benefits. Its fiber will help to clean up your
    the intestinal tract and thus, enhance your bowel movement.

  7. It helps to tone and build lean muscle mass because of its high protein content.
  8. It helps to enable your disgestive system to absorb more nutrients. The huge amount of essential fatty acids, will enable the body to emulsify and absorbs the fat soluble vitamins especially A, D, E, and K.

  9. It helps to build strong bones and enhance your body skeletal system because of the 'boron' mineral. The later mineral helps the body to speed up the rate of calcium absorption.
  10. It also enhances better healthier nails, skin, and hair because of its enormous amount of essential fatty acids.
  11. It regulates better hydration as the soaked seeds will retain fluid, which
    is beneficial to athletes.
Additional Information
  1. Chia seeds can soak up to ten times their original weight. The gel is a soluble fiber that swells into hydrophylic colloid, which is vital for many digestive problems.

  2. Excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

  3. Excellent amount of antioxidants.

  4. Good sources of Vitamins and minerals especially calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, zinc, and even boron (which helps the absorbing of calcium by the body).

  5. It is gluten-free and beneficial to the digestive system.

  6. It has higher source of protein than other seeds and grains. Considered  by all vegetarians (including pregnant mothers), as an alternative protein sources. 

  7. It provides a lower glycemic index because of its slower rate in converting carbohydrates to glucose.


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