Never heard of chia seeds as a food before? You’re not alone, but believe it or not, chia has actually been harnessed as a crop for thousands of years; found naturally in the deserts of Southern Mexico, the seed itself comes from a plant belonging to the mint family, Salvia Hispanica. It was a staple of the Aztec and Mayan diets, and was believed to have anaesthetic qualities for painful joints, and skin complaints.
In the last year, chia has moved from being a novelty household plant, to becoming the latest, hot superfood craze, with celebrity fans like Oprah and Dr Oz singing the praises of the plant’s tiny versatile seeds.
Chia Seed Properties
- Chia is packed full of antioxidants, with studies showing 3 times the amounts contained in blueberries!
- Chia contains twice the amount of potassium as a banana, and 3 times as much iron as spinach.
- Chia is very high in protein, and rich in omega-3 oils, absolutely vital for a healthy brain, and making it a great supplement for vegetarians who may struggle to get their daily recommended doses.
- Chia is high in fibre, and extremely absorbent, aiding digestion, and allowing the body more time to ingest water as the seeds pass through our system.
- Reports suggest that chia seeds may help weight loss, by slowing the speed our bodies break down carbohydrates, which stabilizes blood sugar levels, and even by blocking some uptake of calories. And since the seeds retain so much water, they can help a dieter feel fuller for longer!
- The trace minerals found in Chia are wide ranging, and include calcium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc and magnesium- all vital for a healthy body.
- Studies show that chia seeds can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, since it contains alpha-linolenic acid, which reduces plaque build-up in arteries.
- Chia may aid sleep; it contains tryptophan, an amino acid that works with serotonin in the brain to naturally promote sleep.
- Chia also seems to be appreciated by its fans for its pleasant nutty taste, which similar grains, like wheatgrass, do not seem to have.
It almost sounds too good to be true!
In fact, Wayne Coates, the co-author of “Chia: Rediscovering a Forgotten Crop of the Aztecs” was even quoted as saying to the BBC: “Literally, you could live on this stuff because it’s pretty much everything you need”.
But are there side effects of including chia seeds into our diet? Well, as with many food items, chia could act as an allergen to certain people, and those in particular with mustard or mustard seed allergies should avoid the seeds.
There are also studies that recommend haemophiliacs, and those with low blood pressure should steer clear, as the seeds’ natural ability to lower blood pressure may cause health risks to these individuals.
Since chia is considered a dietary supplement, it is advised that the daily recommended doses are adhered to at all times, and that it is consumed in short phases with dietary break periods, as outlined by the manufacturers. With this is mind, pregnant and lactating women should also consult a doctor before adding this, or any supplement to their diet.
Finally, always make sure you buy good quality, organic chia seeds, since low quality produce can be very poor in nutritional value.
Studies Explore The Benefits of Chia Seeds:
- Dr David Nieman, from Appalachian State University’s Health, Exercise and Leisure Science Department and director of ASU’s Human Performance Laboratory at the N.C. Research Campus, headed a study that showed that ground chia seeds increased omega-3 and fatty acid levels in the blood (http://www2.journalnow.com/news/2012/apr/30/asu-studies-super-food-ar-2224454/)
- A study by Dr. Vladamir Vuksan, Professor of Endocrinology and Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto on diabetic patients, found that chia seeds had blood-thinning qualities and could reduce clotting, as well as reducing blood pressure after just three months of inclusion in the diet. (http://www.chiativity.org/2009/01/diabetes.html)
- A study headed by Lindsay Brown at the University of Queensland and published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, revealed that consumption of chia seeds could promote a healthy liver. (http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Chia-seeds-may-offer-omega-3-heart-and-liver-benefits-Study)
What the Press Says
BBC: (Click article for full size)
Chicago Tribune: (Click article for full size)
Testimonials from Worldwide Chia Seed Fans!:
Chia seeds are a revelation!
I eat at least one tablespoon of Chia seeds a day. They are a revelation. My intestines are humming, and my skin is really soft. I have given these away to friends, and recommend them to everyone.â€“ Julie Madill (Yoga Instructor)
Chia seeds are amazing!
This is an absolutely fabulous product. They feel so amazing in my system. I often start my day with some chia and water for breakfast. Within 10 minutes I’m completely satisfied for 2 â€“ 3 hours.â€“ Deirdre Butler (Yoga Student)
Chia seeds give me sustained energy!
TI use the chia seeds in a blended drink with soaked seeds, dried fruits, Bee pollen and spirulina. The chia seeds fill out the drink, making me feel fuller for longer. Getting the EFA’s into my body has been noticeable and I feel I have more overall sustained energy.â€“ Stephen James Baker (Yoga Student)
Energy, Energy Energy!
I use one full scoop a day and that is in the morning in my breakfast. I then go workout and find out I am burning on average 375-420 calories in that 30 minutes. I have more energy and this last me the day.â€“ Dee Dee P.
It solved my Acid Reflux Problem!
I was very ill and under medical supervision. Part of the side effect from my treatment was acute gastric reflux. I took some Chia in a glass of water and was amazed how quickly it fixed my problem. The following week I told my doctor and now Chia is all I take.â€“ JR Brisbane