[By Pauleen Neo]
The seeds and oil naturally contain more than 60% Omega-3 fatty acid. This is higher than any other plant we know. Chia seeds do not have to be ground up prior to consumption like many other seeds high in good fats, which adds a convenience factor.
It is estimated that between 19–23 percent of the seed by weight is protein. This is higher than most other seeds and grains. Combining the good fats with an excellent source of protein make this a dieter’s dream.
Chia can absorb up to 30 times its weight in water. This also works with other liquids like juices. This ability can prolong hydration (I call it having time-released water) and retain electrolytes in body fluids, especially during exertion or exercise. A 15 gram serving of Chia seeds can provide you with 4-5 grams of fiber.
Chia contains Vitamin C and Vitamin E but also has something named Cinnamic acids. It is believed that these three (especially the cinnamic acid) help preserve the seeds and, more importantly, protect the good fats from oxidizing (going bad). This is why chia is a stable product for years.
This one will make you stop in your tracks: Just two ounces of Chia seeds contain 600 mg of Calcium, compared with 120 mg for milk. Following the Herbal Pharmacist® recommendation to find your vitamins and minerals in “food form” make Chia a top suggestion for those seeking more calcium in their diet without resorting to tablets or capsules. On top of that, Chia also contains Boron – a critical mineral for bones – so it’s ideal for those concerned with Osteoporosis and overall bone health.
6. Weight loss and blood sugar control
Ask any good dietician what to do for weight loss and one thing they will usually say is increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Fiber before a meal can help curb your appetite by giving you the sense of being full. Since Chia can absorb up to 30 times its weight in water, it certainly can make you feel full. As mentioned above, Chia is high in protein. Protein can be beneficial in any weight loss program by providing a great energy source and helping assure you keep your muscle mass while burning off fat. If you starve yourself, the body will use your own muscle as energy and you will not only lose fat but also muscle. Muscle is where your metabolism occurs so losing muscle may lead to decreased metabolism over time. The gel that Chia forms can also slow digestion and help balance blood sugar levels. When Chia seeds are mixed with water or stomach juices, a gel forms that creates a physical barrier between the carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down. The carbohydrates are digested eventually, but at a slow and uniform rate. There is no insulin surge or spike needed to lower the blood sugar level after eating Chia. By achieving this, you will have fewer energy drops and cravings for refined foods. This balancing of blood sugar levels is also critical for those with both hyper (high) and hypo (low) blood sugar.
7. Heart Disease
With regards to heart disease Chia can provide added dietary support. We know that a diet high in fiber is recommended for those with high cholesterol and other forms of cardiovascular disease. Also, Omega-3s (usually from fish oil) are recommended for heart health. The Omega-3 found in Chia (ALA) can be converted into EPA (the heart healthy component of fish oil). Adding a few servings of Chia to your every day diet would be a huge step in the right direction for all of us (yes me) concerned with cardiovascular disease.
8. Digestive Disorders
We all know that fiber is critical for healthy digestion. We need to consume 35+ grams of fiber per day and if it doesn’t come from your food you must supplement. Now, with Chia, 1 tablespoon serving can give you about 1/5 of your daily needs (7.4 grams). One tablespoon of Chia isn’t very much, so I recommend at least 2 to 4 per day as part of your every day diet.
HOW TO USE CHIA
Chia should be considered part of your everyday diet and not a supplement. You can add Chia to just about everything. Just as we add things to our salads, soups, veggies, etc., you can do the same with Chia. Guess what? It has virtually no flavor (I think it has none at all). This is a huge point because often we end up with something that imparts a new flavor or texture to our food, making it a challenge to consume. This will not happen with Chia. You can add the seeds directly to your foods (dry) or as a gel. Chia can even be eaten directly from the container. (I don’t recommend this because the seeds are so tiny (smaller than sesame seeds) they will end up between your teeth.) Remember to drink an ample amount of water, as you would when consuming any fiber.
Since chia seed is an USDA approved food product, you can do this as often as you prefer just as you can eat more than one apple or other fruit per day. You can also use it to make a versatile gel, which can be added to jams, jellies, peanut butter, milkshakes, nut spreads, smoothies, hot or cold cereals, yogurts, mustard, catsup, tartar sauce, barbecue sauces, etc. It makes a great fat substitute, promoting energy and endurance.