Health Tips

Chia Seeds: Benefits and Nutrition

benefits and nutrition of chia seeds
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Chia seeds, also known as Salvia Hispanica, is a seed grown primarily in southern Mexico. These miniature powerhouses are extremely nutritious, readily available, inexpensive, and versatile. They are made up of 22% of protein, 35% of healthy fats, and abundant amounts of dietary fiber. With 10-11 grams of fiber per ounce, chia seeds deliver over 40% of the recommended daily value of fiber with a single serving. The fiber helps slow digestion and makes you feel fuller by soaking up fluid and expanding in your digestive tract. A unique characteristic of chia is its nutritional content:

3-5 times more calcium than milk.
3 times more iron than spinach.
8 times more omega 3s than salmon.
15 times more magnesium than broccoli.
3 times more antioxidants than blueberries.

Among the numerous benefits of chia is their high omega 3 content, higher than even flaxseed.  Another benefit of chia over flaxseed is that due to their high antioxidant content, their storage life is extremely long. Chia seeds do not have the rancidity issues that affect other sources of fatty acids. Also, unlike flax seeds, they are very bioavailable and do not need to be ground or crushed before eaten  for optimal absorption. They´re also a great source of fiber, and chock full of minerals including magnesium, calcium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, iron, and zinc as well as B vitamins.

Their versatility and unique nutritional content makes chia seeds a great choice for those suffering from numerous health conditions.  Chia helps control blood sugar, as well as lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. It helps improve memory and mood, and also improves the overall health of skin, teeth, and nails. Yet another advantage unique to chia seeds: when added to water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, chia seeds form a gel. Researchers suggest that a similar reaction takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar. This can prove as a great benefit in weight management endeavors. Also, chia gel can replace eggs in vegan versions of various types of baked goods. If making chia gel, use 1 part chia  to 9 parts liquid. Mix well, and allow 10 minutes for the seeds to fully  hydrate.

In the culinary world, chia seeds also have unique characteristics that are making them a more popular choice in ethnic foods from around the world.  Their mild nutlike flavor and solid consistency provide them with a versatility that makes them a great addition to yogurt, smoothies, salads, baked goods, and almost anything you can imagine.  Their consistency and internal properties allow them to be a healthy substitute for butter and/or eggs while baking, which makes chia a favorite among vegetarians and vegans alike. Until recently, chia was produced by only a few small growers, but commercial production has resumed in Latin America, and you can now buy the seeds online and in health food stores. Because of their unique nutritional value and stability, chia is already being added to a range of foods. Another bonus: insects don’t like the chia plant so it is easier to find organically grown varieties. Although already featured on many health blogs, magazines, articles, and even The Dr. Oz TV Show, be on the look out as we´ll undoubtedly be hearing much more about chia and its health benefits in the near future.

Here are some of my favorite chia recipes:  apricot chia bars, raw rice pudding, or  grain-free wrap

11 thoughts on “Chia Seeds: Benefits and Nutrition

  1. And yet, Dr Adrian Raphael wrote in January:

    Whether or not Chia fits Paleo is debatable. According to Loren Cordain PhD (leading source in paleolithic nutrition), it’s no dice due to antinutrient content (phytates and saponins), however these are typically lower in mucilaginous products like chia. Seeds should be kept to a minimum (not consumed as a staple by hunter gatherers, rather more of a supporting role), especially for those with autoimmune, digestive, or allergic conditions.

    Phytates block your bodies ability to absorb nutrients and minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, in addition to others. Saponins are tiny little chemicals that boast a bitter taste, and typically ward off insects and microbes thereby protecting the vegetation that contains them! In high doses they can become toxic to humans, and at low doses may cause leaky gut or immune issues. On the flip side, certain saponins have also boasted some benefit to the immune system, heart health, with cancer fighting agents.
    I’m confused!
    Thank you.

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    1. Thanks Mamie for the input, there are so many debatable Paleo foods… Flax, chia, dairy, peanuts, nuts, sweet potatoes and starchy vegetables. I follow the basics strictly; no grains, no legumes, no potatoes and no peanuts. I react immediately to this things, but I seem to do just fine with chia. I get what you are saying, even the Paleo experts can’t agree on this one? Mark Sisson says they are ok, Robb Wolf says they are good, but Cordain says they are bad. I guess it’s just a matter of how they make you feel

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      1. Right. For me I have no problem. I wanted to recommend that a friend NOT eat them every day as she has some sort of auto-immune condition and is being treated by a chiropractor. I guess I’ll give her both pieces.

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    1. There is no recommended dosage or evidence of risks from possibly eating too much chia. The amount used varies among individuals, how they feel and their needs. According to MyChiaSeeds.com, adults consuming chia for general nutrition and health purposes , such as increased energy, might typically consume 1 tbsp. per day. People who are adding calories to their diet or seeking increased satiety to prevent over-eating may wish to eat more.

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  2. It was stated in the article that chia can help with diverticulosis and diverticulitis, if so how? I thought that seeds and nuts are the worst things for that, don’t they lay in the pockets and lead to the infection.
    Thanks
    Mark

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