Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) are a nutrient-rich food. They belong to the plant genus of the labiates. Mainly, they are known for the chia pets (made from baked clay) from the 80s and 90s. The gluten free chia seeds have already been used by the Maya, Aztec and Inca. Today, they predominantly are grown in the Amazon area and central america. In the maya language chia meant strength. Finally, the seeds were used for more strength, endurance and energy.
Today, they are appreciated for their health benefits on the cardiovascular system, inflammations, errors of the nervous system and diabetes 1.
- 1 Chia Seeds Are Rich In Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- 2 High-Quality Protein Source, Ideal For Athletes
- 3 Benefits For A Good Sleep
- 4 Chia Seeds As A Source Of Vitamins And Mineral Nutrients
- 5 Chia Seeds Are Full Of Healthy Antioxidants
- 6 High Percentage Of Complex Carbohydrates
- 7 Chia Seeds Provide Many Fibers
- 8 Do Chia Seeds Help To Lose Weight?
- 9 Improving The Blood Glucose Level With Chia Seeds
- 10 Lowering The Blood Pressure With Chia
- 11 Application And Use
- 12 Buy Chia Seeds
Chia Seeds Are Rich In Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The small seeds contain, compared to other herbal foods, a very high amount of the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (17.8 g in 100 g). Chia seeds are a good alternative to linseed and hempseed, which are also foods rich in omega-3 foods rich in omega-3.
Omega-3 fatty acids protect the cardiovascular system and preserve the heart’s health. They are also extremely important for vegans: 1. Chia seeds help to achieve a good relation of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and to cover the general need of omega-3. A bad omega-3 to omega-6 relation, as it often appears concerning vegans, operates inflammation-promoting. The relation of chia seeds is 3:1 in favor omega-3.
Results of studies show, that the use of 25 g of grounded chia seeds leads to significant higher blood levels of alpha linolenic acid (ALA; + 58% to 138%) und eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA; +39%) 2. ALA and EPA are omega-3 fatty acids, which are needed to build docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which again is part of the brain and the retina 4.
High-Quality Protein Source, Ideal For Athletes
Chia seeds are one of the rare herbal products, which contain high amounts of all essential amino acids, combined with a good relation of these 5. With 16.5 g of protein in 100 g, they are among the herbal foods containing the highest amounts of protein. This high percentage of protein makes them perfect for muscle buildup and regeneration. Especially the well-balanced relation of the essential amino acids, notably methionine und cysteine, is ideal for athletes.
It is unclear, if chia seeds can enhance the athletic performance 6.
Benefits For A Good Sleep
Tryptophan (essential amino acid), which is enclosed with 0.4 g per 100 g a lot in chia seeds, has a sleep supporting effect. You can consume them together with walnuts, which also contain a lot of tryptophan. They assist a refreshing sleep.
Chia Seeds As A Source Of Vitamins And Mineral Nutrients
Chia seeds bring along many calcium (0.63 g per 100 g), phosphorus (0.86 g), potassium (0.41 g) and magnesium (0.34 g). These mineral nutrients are needed for strong bones, for the nervous system and the contraction of the muscles. Chia seeds are also interesting for athletes concerning supplements, because the mineral nutrients that are sweated away will be provided by the chia seeds. Mineral nutrients like manganese (2.72 mg), iron (7.72 mg), zinc (4.58 mg) und selenium (55.2 µg) come along with high amounts, too.
As well, there are higher quantities of the vitamins B1, B2, B3, C and E.
Overview of all nutrients and nutritional values of chia seeds.
Besides the mineral nutrients, there is phytic acid (anti nutrient) in chia seeds 7. The phytic acid disables the absorption of calcium, iron, and zinc in the digestive tract, which decreases the bioavailability of these.
Chia Seeds Are Full Of Healthy Antioxidants
The small power packs contain high amounts of health supporting antioxidants and flavonoids 8. These are for instance myricetin, quercetin, kaempferol and caffeic acid 9. Antioxidants protect from oxidative stress and disables the development of free radicals, which amongst other things cause a faster aging process. As well, antioxidants are important for the cell regeneration.
High Percentage Of Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates (slower digestion than simple carbohydrates), that provide a long lasting and consistent energy supply, also occur in the chia seeds. Therefore, they are a suitable energy provider for an upcoming endurance training. The consumption should happen three to four hours before the strain.
Scientists found out, that the combination of 50% chia seed drink with 50% sports drink is as effective in a 90 minutes training unit as 100% of the sports drink alone 10.
Chia Seeds Provide Many Fibers
Chia seeds contain a high amount of fibers, that are 34 g per 100g. A big part belongs to the water-insoluble fibers (30.43 g) 11 They improve the defecation by reducing the risk of a constipation. There are smaller amounts of water-soluble fibers in the chia seeds (3.07 g) 13. They are the food source for the intestinal bacteria and promote a healthy flora of the intestine 14.
The seeds have a high ability to swell. They can absorb water up to 12 times of the original weight 15. By expanding the volume, the seeds provide for a long lasting feeling of satiety 16. In most cases, the feeling of satiety leads to less food consumption in general (but see next section).
Do Chia Seeds Help To Lose Weight?
Seemingly, chia seeds do not influence weight loss much, scientists discovered in 2009 17. 50g g of chia seeds were applied to overweight and obese men and women a day. The results were compared to the people data who took placebo. After three months there was no benefit concerning the body composition. The body fat percentage stayed the same.
Improving The Blood Glucose Level With Chia Seeds
Chia seeds also help improving the blood glucose level. Results of studies from 2010 and 2013 show that eating bread which was enriched with chia seeds led to a lower blood glucose level 18.
Lowering The Blood Pressure With Chia
Several studies attest a blood pressure lowering effect (lower systolic pressure) of chia seeds 20.
Application And Use
The small chia seeds are eaten raw. One to two teaspoons are fully enough (EFSA advises not more than 15 g of chia a day = about two tablespoons 22; according to US dietary guidelines it should not be more than 48 g a day). Chia seeds can induce an anaphylactic reaction, which is caused by immunoglobulin E 24. Immunoglobulin E is an antibody, which can also cause allergies.
In connection with liquids, the seeds swell and form a sticky gel. Therefore, they are perfect to thicken smoothies and puddings. Furthermore, they can be used as an egg replacement 25.
The crunchy texture is nice in vegan yoghurts and granolas. Also, there is the possibility to use them in fruit salads. They additionally upgrade this vitamin bomb.
Chia seeds can also be used as an ingredient for pastries like cookies, cakes and buns.
Together with vegan spreads the sprouts refine salads.
Buy Chia Seeds
You can buy them in health-food shops, partly in drugstores and in the internet. By and by they also find their way into the supermarkets