Chia seeds are nutritious foods. They come from the Salvia hispanica plant that is native to Guatemala and Mexico where they have been used for food since the time of the Aztecs.
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So What Are the Benefits of Chia Seeds?
1 – The Running Food – Chia seeds provide a great deal of fuel activity and for long periods of time. Thus the name “the running food,” and why it was valued by the ancient Americas’ people. Fitness enthusiasts today are becoming aware of these same benefits.
2 – Protein – About the size of a poppy seed, chia provides an abundance of protein. Protein is the basic building material of muscle and tissue. More than other plant based foods, chia seeds provides readily absorbed amounts of essential amino acids that the body does not produce.
3 – Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Additionally, chia provides a large amount of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, chia contains more omega-3 than the more popularly known and used, flax seeds.
4 – Micronutrients – High in antioxidants, chia seeds provide a hefty amount of minerals including B vitamins, vitamin C, as well as calcium, boron. iron and potassium.
5 – Hydrophilic Colloid – This soluble fiber helps to regulate the electrolyte balance in the body and keeps the body hydrated.
6 – Slows Conversion of Dietary Carbohydrates – Chia can form a gel which in turn helps provide a feeling of fullness and helps to slow the conversion of dietary carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). This feeling of fullness is also helpful for people wanting to lose weight. In addition, it helps the intestinal tract function.
7 – Type 2 Diabetes – According to a study published in the January 2009 British Journal of Nutrition, chia is showing healthy effects in laboratory research. Chia was shown to reduce resistance to insulin (the hormone that controls glucose). Additionally, in the Diabetic Care magazine, it was reported that chia lowered blood pressure and hemoglobin A1C, which is a blood-sugar marker.
8 – Easy to incorporate into the diet – Chia seeds have a mild and nutty flavor that mixes well with foods and beverages. In whole form they can be added to salads, yogurt and cereals. When ground, the seeds can be added to baked goods, salsa, soups and can be eaten sprouted. Sprouted is what we are used to seeing on the Chia Pets.
When chia is feed to chickens, eggs are higher in omega-3 fatty acids.
The unsaturated fat contained in chia keeps inflammation down, providing a healthy balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In an article in the North Carolina Independant Tribune reported an article, “New Study Explores Health Benefits With Chia Dr. David Nieman, Director of the Human Performance Research Lab at the Appalachian State University in North Carolina, stated “chia seeds are the best plant source for omega-3 fatty acids.”
Chia controls blood sugar and prevents the onset of diabetes, according to the Nutritional Science Research Institute. It mentions a study published in 2007 by “Diabetes Care” claiming chia, a low glycemic food, allows blood sugar to rise slowly, without a spike, keeping blood sugar controlled.
Twenty-eight percent more fiber than flaxseed puts chia seed in the lead for proper digestion. It also takes care of 20 percent of the daily requirement of fiber. The seed contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. Chia provides slow digestion, keeping insulin requirements low.
Chia alleviates a multitude of factors that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention considers risk factors for heart disease. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes have been linked to cardiovascular issues. Chia’s omega-3s, especially the alpha-linolenic acid, reduces plaque buildup associated with heart problems.
Along with essential fatty acids, chia contains minerals and vitamins that protect cells. There is as much calcium in 3 oz. of chia as there is in 2 cups of milk. Iron in 4 cups of spinach equals the same as 3 oz. of chia.
There is a surge of energy and strength with chia. It is credited to the synergy of its potent properties. It was once called “Indian Running Food,” according to James Scheer, eloquent author of several health books including “The Magic of Chia.”
Although clinical trials haven’t shown chia seeds to reduce weight, Scheer boasts chia helps control weight. Hunger pangs result when too much insulin has been released and blood sugar drops. Mixing chia seed with fruit juice can keep a person satisfied until lunch, according to Scheer. Chia swells once in the stomach, turning into a gel, thus making an individual full.
Chia seed contains tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sound sleep. The healing effects originate from serotonin, a neurotransmitter needed for tryptophan formation.
With chia’s fiber count, linoleic acid and long chain triglycerides that scrub away artery plaque, chia lowers bad LDL cholesterol and raises good HDL levels.
Chia’s antioxidants play a crucial role in cancer prevention. Chia holds protease inhibitors that destroy cancer cells and repair DNA damage. Scheer mentions in his book about a survey, taken in 41 countries, showing lower cancer rates where chia intake was highest.