(NaturalHealth365) Chia seeds are considered a ‘superfood’ because they are nutrient dense with amazing therapeutic value. Dark in color and almost the size of poppy seeds – they are best eaten raw, kid-friendly and extremely easy to incorporate into any recipe. Chia helps to reduce chronic inflammation, insulin resistance and improve circulation.
What is so special about chia seeds?
Chia seeds were a part of the Aztec culture as their primary food and currency, the Aztec warriors used them for endurance and as a fuel during combat. The nutritional profile is amazing – protein (15–25%), fats (30–33%), carbohydrates (26–41%) and high dietary fiber (18–30%).
By the way, with 60% of its lipids comprising the omega-3 fatty acids, it is a superior plant source of essential fats.
How do chia seeds strengthen heart function?
The combination of high omega-3 fats along with both soluble and insoluble fiber make chia the best heart-healthy food. Studies confirm that these nutrients play a crucial role in preventing heart disease. The unique property of chia seeds can be noticed by adding a spoonful to a glass of water, it forms a thick gel-like substance within few minutes.
The gel-like texture is due to its high soluble fiber content, about a gram in three teaspoons. An ounce of chia contains 11g of fiber of which 8 grams constitute the insoluble fiber. Naturally, a fiber-rich diet can help to keep your toxic burden low – which is great for heart and brain health.
Fixing heart disease with chia seeds
More fiber: An ounce of chia everyday meets about 50% of the recommended 20 – 35 grams of fiber a day by the American Dietetic Association. Fiber-rich foods curbs appetite; help in weight loss and lower cholesterol levels – all of which promote healthier heart function.
Great source of omega-3: Being a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – chia helps to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels; lower high blood pressure and also reduce cellular inflammation. Unlike flax seeds, which require grinding in order for the fats to be bioavailable, chia seeds can be consumed whole due to their soft seed coat, which is easily digested.
Rich in antioxidants: Chia seeds are rich in flavonols and polyphenolic acids, quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol, and caffeic acids that are powerful antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and promote vascular health.
Loaded with heart healthy nutrients: Chia seeds have a treasure-trove of vitamins and minerals. They are rich in antioxidant vitamins like, C and E and high in minerals like, zinc and magnesium which play a role in neutralizing the risks associated with free radical damage and helps to lower blood pressure.
What does science say about chia seeds?
To date, there are four clinical trials on humans confirming the health benefits of chia seeds. A seven-week trial – with 25g of chia per day – showed that heart-healthy omega-3 fats ALA and EPA were elevated in postmenopausal women. A two months randomized trial showed that there was a significant weight loss, lower blood triglyceride and glucose levels in subjects.
A recent study, from Australia on rat models, showed that chia seed supplementation demonstrated heart protective effects while on a high fat diet. Researchers revealed that chia seeds caused fat re-distribution by mobilizing the fats from the abdomen to other parts of the body. The study also showed that chia seeds exhibited anti-inflammatory effects, along with improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance among the experimental rats.
How can I buy chia seeds?
Chia is best bought as whole seeds as the nutrients remain intact and stable in the whole form than in the ground form. Since they are expensive, buying in bulk could save money but the seeds lose their nutritional qualities on prolonged storage, so be sure to buy just the right quantity for your family. It is also important to choose chemical-free, organic chia seeds from a reputed supplier.
Are there any health concerns?
Chia seeds are safe and studies confirm that they are free of mycotoxins and are low in heavy metals – which fall under safe limits. If you take anti-coagulant drugs consult your doctor before including chia as the ALA, acts as a powerful blood thinner.
Most health experts suggest taking about two tablespoons per day. Keep in mind, chia seeds tend to absorb water and bulk up 12 times their weight, so consume enough water to avoid constipation.
Since chia seeds are gel-forming in water, they make a great base for puddings – a great replacement for eggs in baking. You can replace a large egg in a recipe by combining a tablespoon of chia in three tablespoon of water. It is also combines well with any fruit in a smoothie plus toasted chia seeds are a great addition to any salad.
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1. Poudyal H. et.al; Lipid redistribution by α-linolenic acid-rich chia seed inhibits stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 and induces cardiac and hepatic protection in diet-induced obese rats. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Vol 23, Iss 2, pg 153-162, February 2012.
2. Jin F, Nieman DC, Sha W, et al. Supplementation of milled chia seeds increases plasma ALA and EPA in postmenopausal women. Plant Foods For Human Nutrition. 2010;67:105–110.
3. Martha GC, Armando RT, Carlos AA, et al. A dietary pattern including Nopal, Chia seed, soy protein, and oat reduces serum triglycerides and glucose intolerance in patients with metabolic syndrome. Journal of Nutrition.2012;142(1):64–69
4. Mohd Ali N et.al; The promising future of chia, Salvia hispanica L. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2012;2012:171956.
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