Nutrition Expert: Sana Saiyed, Practicing Clinical Dietitian and Certified diabetes Educator, Mumbai.
Chia is a seed obtained from the flowering plant Salvia Hispanica, which is native to Central America, USA, and Mexico. Off late, they have gained a lot of popularity for being one of the healthiest seeds in the planet, with some people even calling it a superfood.
They are rich in fiber, protein, good fats, calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus.
What is fiber?
Dietary fiber is material from plant cells that cannot be broken down by enzymes in the human digestive tract. There are two important types of fiber: water-soluble and water-insoluble. Each has different properties and characteristics.
- Water-soluble fibers absorb water during digestion. They increase stool bulk and may decrease blood cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber can be found in fruits (such as apples, oranges, and grapefruit), vegetables, legumes (such as dry beans, lentils, and peas), barley, oats, and oat bran.
- Water-insoluble fibers remain unchanged during digestion. They promote the normal movement of intestinal contents. Insoluble fiber can be found in fruits with edible peel or seeds, vegetables, whole grain products (such as whole-wheat bread, pasta, and crackers), bulgur wheat, stone-ground cornmeal, cereals, bran, rolled oats, buckwheat, and brown rice.
HOW TO STORE CHIA SEEDS
Dry chia seeds have a shelf life of forever. Like 5 years. They’re packed with healthy oils, which means they’ll stay freshest if stored in the refrigerator and in an airtight container. They can also be frozen, but with a 5-year shelf life, do you really need to?
Chia seeds nutrition per 2 tablespoons (28g)
The word “chia” comes from the Aztec word for “oily”. Well, the Aztecs must have known what was good for them because chia seeds are packed with healthy fats. 57% of the fat in chia seeds is an omega-3 fatty acid, an anti-inflammatory polyunsaturated fatty acid.
The keyword here is anti-inflammatory. Omega-3’s decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides, and reduce atherosclerotic plaque build-up (all the polar opposites of what omega-3’s evil cousin, saturated fat, does).
- Calories: 132
- Carbohydrates: 12g
- Fiber: 11g, 42% Daily Value (DV)
- Protein: 4g
- Fat: 9g, 17.6% omega-3 + 5.8% omega-6 = 75% polyunsaturated fat
- 30% DV of Manganese: A trace element that plays a role in healthy brain and nervous system function.
- 27% DV of Phosphorus: A mineral that works with calcium to form calcium phosphate, the foundation of bones and teeth. Also plays a role in energy metabolism as part of ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
- 24% DV of Magnesium: A mineral that plays a large role in bone formation and maintenance in addition to being a part of over 300 reactions within the body.
- 18% DV of Calcium: 1% of the calcium in your body plays a vital role in vascular contraction/dilation and nerve transmission and signalling. The other 99% supports teeth and bone structure and function.
- 12% DV of Iron: A major component of hemoglobin, the proteins that make up red blood cells and carry oxygen around the body. This is a non-heme source, meaning it does not come from an animal. It is not absorbed as well as heme iron.
Chia seeds work best as an antioxidant, as they help fight the free radicals from the body, which damages the cell molecules contributing to the aging and disease like Cancer. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1985414/) Several studies have examined the soluble fiber glucomannan, which works in a similar way, showing that it can lead to weight loss. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18031592/)
Being rich in fiber chia seeds make it a super food for achieving weight loss. It is well known as a soluble fiber it helps in disposing insulin into the blood stream at right point. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12583961)
Chia seeds are high source of first class protein and high protein intake lowers appetite and has been shown to reduce obsessive thoughts about food by 60% and the desire for night time snacking by 50%. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16002798)
The calcium content of this seed is about 18% of the daily value of the Recommended dietary allowance which helps in building strong bones.
Chia seeds are not only rich in nutrients, omega-3 fat, antioxidants and fiber but also easy to prepare. People commonly add them to their porridge or smoothies.
Studies suggest that they have various health benefits, ranging from weight loss to reduced inflammation.