The Top Ten Benefits of Chia Seeds
The seeds of the Chia plant have been used since ancient times by the people of Aztec, Mexico, as a natural health supplement. In fact, even the soldiers of Aztec used to take these seeds along with them, as alternate food source, during wars. Presently, several botanists and researchers are performing research on these seeds in a bid, to find out their potential in fighting illnesses and thus, improving the health of the mankind. The high nutritional value of Chia seeds have been already established in various researches and the most prominent finding is; the seeds contain more than 60% of Omega 3 Fatty Acids along with several other nutrients!
Before we get into the details of the various benefits that are provided by the Chia seeds, let us get some information about the plant; the botanical name for this plant is Salvia hispanica; and it is a member of the Lamiaceae or Mint family. The seeds are the main product of the plant, which are very healthy and high in nutritional content. The Chia seeds come in black, white, gray and brown mottle colors and they are oval shaped with the diameter of approximately 1 mm.
Now let us see the composition of these seeds.
The Nutrient Profile of Chia Seeds
The main component of the Chia seeds is Omega 3 Fatty Acid; an essential fatty acid which needs to be supplied from external sources to the body. This fatty acid is very crucial for the human beings, as it provides the base for formation and growth of cells which are the primary building blocks of any organism; including humans. Along with these Omega 3 fatty acids, the Chia seeds also contain proteins, dietary fibers, vitamins, essential minerals and several amino acids. The minerals present in the Chia seeds include Calcium, Manganese, Zinc, Phosphorus, Selenium, Copper, Potassium and Sodium. The amino acids present in the Chia seeds include the 9 essential amino acids; Methionine, Lysine, Leucine, Tryptophan, Threonine, Isoleucine, Histidine, Phenylalanine and Valine along with Serine, Alanine, Cystine, Glycine, Arginine, Glutamic acid, Aspartic Acid, Tyrosine and Proline; non-essential amino acids.
On doing a comparative analysis of the nutrient composition of Chia seeds, you will get the following results:
- The Omega 3 fatty acid content in Chia seed is 8 times than that of Salmon.
- The seeds have 3 times more iron content than spinach and six times more protein content than kidney beans.
- The anti-oxidants found in Chia seed is double the amount found in blue berries.
- The Chia seeds have six times more calcium and 9 times more phosphorus than whole milk.
- The potassium content of Chia seeds is twice than that of banana.
- It has 15 times more magnesium than broccoli and can supply about 32 percent of your daily magnesium needs.
- The dietary fiber content in Chia seeds is 41 percent which is higher than Flax seeds and twice of what is found in Bran Flakes.
The calorie content of the Chia seeds is also very low which makes it a perfect food. Now, let us have a look at the various benefits that are provided by these seeds.
1. Keeps your blood sugar level under control
The blood sugar levels of a person tend to fluctuate immediately after meals, as the starch is converted into sugars; this fluctuation can lead to the increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes. In order to avoid this risk, you can take the help of Chia seeds; which contain both soluble as well as insoluble fibres. As the Chia seeds enter your stomach, they absorb water to form a gel containing both these types of fibres; these fibres reduce the rate of conversion of starch into sugar; thus, providing a regular supply and preventing the fluctuations of blood sugar level.
2. Helps in Controlling the Body Weight
Chia seeds can help you reduce your excess body weight and also prevent you from putting on extra weight in various ways, these are:
- The Chia seeds can absorb water up to eight times of their weight; so, as you include them in your diet, your water intake automatically increases, and this results in lowering of the total food intake, thus, leading to less fat deposition and weight loss.
- The dietary fibres present in Chia seeds make the process of digestion more efficient and smooth.
- The hydrophilic Chia seeds absorb water to form a gel which lines the digestive tract; thus, reducing the absorption of calories in the blood.
- The Chia seeds also remove the toxins from the body, which ensures regular metabolism.
3. Reduces Oxidative Stress and protects against diseases
Oxidative stress occurs when the body becomes deficient of anti-oxidants, which kill and neutralize the free radicals; responsible for causing cancers and other degenerative diseases. This Oxidative stress can lead to several diseases like Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Atherosclerosis; which can be prevented by consuming Chia seeds which have very high anti-oxidant content.
4. Improves your Energy level
The proteins, vitamins and fibres present in the Chia seeds are great energy boosters and they also reduce the frequency lethargic attacks in the body. It also balances the blood sugar levels, to ensure that, you are never devoid of energy.
5. Cholesterol free: Saves your heart
The Chia seeds do not contain any cholesterol, which makes them ideal for people with heart problems; as it is the cholesterol, which is responsible for most of the cardio vascular disorders.
6. Prevents Diverticulosis/Diverticulitis
Diverticulosis is the condition where, the patients develop many diverticulums or pouches; collectively called as Diverticula, at the weak spots of their large intestine or colon. When these pouches become inflamed, the condition is termed as Diverticulitis; which is a very painful condition. The Chia seeds provide relief in these conditions by ensuring a smooth movement of the food in the intestine and keeping the colon hydrated.
7. Prevents aging and also ensures normal functioning of thyroid gland
Chia seeds are not only helpful in preventing aging but also help in maintaining the normal functioning of the thyroid. The anti-aging character of the Chia seeds is due to the presence of strong anti-oxidants which scavenge on free radicals, thus, slowing down the process of aging and keeping you young and healthy.
The Chia seeds also contain Selenium, which not only ensures smooth functioning of Thyroid, but it also prevents against the Hashimoto’s disease.
8. Can be easily incorporated in your daily diet
The Chia seeds don’t have a significant taste of their own, so, you can easily add them to your favourite dishes and increase their nutritional value, without hampering their taste. You also don’t need to grind these seeds before eating; so, you can easily use them in your desserts, salads, pastries, cakes, cookies or snacks according to your convenience.
9. Promotes healthy bones and muscles
The potassium present in the seeds ensures normal neuron function and maintains the osmotic balance, between the interstitial fluid (fluid outside the cells) and the cellular fluid (fluid found inside the cells). It also helps in sending proper nerve impulses and prevents muscle contractions.
Chia seeds not only contain calcium which is required for strong bones; but also Boron and magnesium, which are required to facilitate the absorption of calcium in the bones; thus, providing a complete solution for Calcium metabolism.
10. Ensures general health and provides immunity
The Chia seeds contain Omega 3 fatty acids which help in absorption of Vitamins A, D, K and E which are fat soluble vitamins. It also helps in maintaining the health of the brain and ensures its smooth functioning. The Omega 3 also acts as a mood booster and enhances mental skills and sharpness. It also prevents the chances of stroke.
The Chia seeds give support to the immune system by providing the strength to fight different illnesses.
Possible Side Effects of Using Chia Seeds
The Chia seeds come with many health benefits but at the same time, there can be certain side effects also, these can be:
- Lowering of blood pressure to dangerous levels, especially in case of older people.
- You can feel like you are holding excess water
These are main side effects, but, people suffering from heart problems or on a blood pressure medication should avoid its use. Also, the people who are allergic to this seed and who are taking vitamin B17 supplements should also avoid taking Chia seeds.
These side effects do not hold ground when compared to the immense benefits that are provided by the Chia seeds. These seeds, despite of their immense benefits, are not very costly and can be used by everyone; from a child to old age persons including men as well as women. So, don’t wait, start consuming these seeds and move ahead towards the goal of a healthy and joyful life.