Did you know chia seeds have been a staple in Mayan and Aztec diets for centuries? The ancient superfood has been recorded to be used by Aztecs as early as 3500 BC. In fact, the word ‘chia’ means ‘strength’ in the language of the Mayans, named for the fact that it was considered runner’s food, which was consumed by messengers or warriors who needed the energy to keep going. Chia seeds were so valued for their medicinal properties that it was known to be more precious than gold. Today, the world is again waking up to the importance of this superfood, which has been scientifically proven to have immense health benefits.
The nutrition profile of Chia seeds
Chia Seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Every 100g of chia seeds has close to 480 calories and 30g of fat, of which 23 grams are polyunsaturated fats, which are good/essential fats which include omega 3, 6, etc. If you break the seeds down by weight, they are 6% water, 46% carbohydrates, 83% of which is fibre content), 34% fat and 19% protein. Chia seeds also contain a wealth of minerals including sulphur, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, niacin and thiamine, apart from being a high source of antioxidants.
Different benefits of Chia seeds
Packed with good fats: Chia is one of the richest plant-based source of polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. They help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, protect the heart by lowering blood pressure, bad cholesterol and inflammation. They are also essential in maintaining the nervous functioning of our body.
Improves digestive health: Being super high in dietary fibre, chia seeds can help you achieve a healthy digestive system. It improves bowel health and frequency as its soluble fibre content supports the growth of probiotics in the gut. Fibre also helps reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, balance blood sugar levels and keep bowel-related ailments at bay.
Fights signs of ageing: Chia seeds have a high natural phenolic (antioxidants) concentration, making it one of nature’s riches high-antioxidant foods. Antioxidants help in not only speeding up the skin’s repair systems, but also prevents further damage, which can, in turn, avoid premature skin ageing due to inflammation and free radical damage. In fact, the antioxidants in Chia seeds have been shown to stop up to 70% of free radical activity. The high omega-3 content in chia seeds also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, reducing redness and reviving dry skin.
Enhances heart health: Chia seeds are known to be a rich source of an Omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid, which has been associated with cardiovascular health. The Omega-3 fatty acids also aid in lowering triglyceride levels, apart from reducing inflammation, and regulating cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Studies have also linked chia seed consumption to healthy blood sugar levels and HDL (good cholesterol).
Boosts energy levels: Did you know that consuming chia seeds can enhance exercise performance for 90-minute workouts in the same way that a sports drink does? Adding chia seeds to your diet can charge up your metabolism, improve stamina and build your endurance levels. Chia seeds are a great source of zinc, which aids the body produce more leptin, a hormone that regulates your appetite and energy levels.
Help prevent diabetes: Chia seeds are known to be rich in alpha-linolenic acid and fibre. Scientific studies have proven that chia seeds have the ability to prevent metabolic disorders such as dyslipidemia (excessive fat in the blood) and insulin resistance, which are two factors in the development of diabetes. So, by adding chia seeds to the diet can systematically keep diabetes at bay.
Strengthens bones: One ounce of chia seeds contains around 18% of the recommended daily amount of calcium, which is crucial for your bone health, bone strength, mass and which helps in preventing osteoporosis. Apart from calcium, chia seeds also contain boron, another essential nutrient for bone health, which aids in metabolizing calcium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus for healthy growth of bones and muscles.
Curbs appetite: Chia seeds can help you feel satiated as they are very high in fibre, which absorbs liquid and expands in the stomach. This feeling of fullness helps in suppressing the appetite and allowing for better portion control, making chia seeds very diet-friendly.
With all these benefits and a lot more, it’s no wonder that chia seeds are considered superfoods. So, why not add them to your diet and see the difference yourself?