Chia seeds - the main ingredient in a healthy diet
Chia seeds have become an ingredient in the diet of those looking for the recipe for a healthy life. Consumed raw or roasted, whole or ground, in salad mixtures, cereals and milk or natural juices, these seeds are an excellent source of fiber, are high in protein, rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids, antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
Chia seeds are part of the mint family (Lamiaceae), derived from the Chia plant (Salvia hispanica) native to Mexico and Guatemala, used for consumption since ancient times. It was cultivated by Aztecs, Mayans, Incas and other civilizations.
Chia seeds are some of the richest sources of polyunsaturated acids and can contain up to 40% good fats. A large part of these acids are Omega-3 acids and Omega-6 acids.
Chia seeds are small, have a color that can vary from white to black, oval or flat shape and a neutral nut-like taste.
Unlike other seeds, it is important to know that chia seeds do not rancid.
Types of chia seeds
The differences between white and black chia seeds are negligible, containing similar amounts of Omega-3 acids, proteins, fiber and other nutrients.
- White chia seeds are preferred because their color is not as pronounced in food.
- Black chia seeds are richer in antioxidants
Brown or reddish chia seeds are those that have not had enough light and water to mature. Therefore, these are the only ones that should be avoided.
Nutritional profile of chia seeds
100 g of chia seeds contain:
- Calories: 490 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 43.8 g
- Fiber: 37.7 g
- Fats and fatty acids: 30.8 g
- Protein: 15.6 g
- Vitamin B12: 0.01 mg
- Calcium: 631 mg
- Phosphorus: 948 mg
- Potassium: 160 mg
- Sodium: 19 mg
- Zinc: 3.5 mg
- Copper: 0.2 mg
- Manganese: 2.2 mg
Fats and fatty acids - 30.8 g of which:
- Saturated: 3.2g
- Monounsaturated: 2.1 g
- Polyunsaturated: 23.3 g
- Omega-3: 17.83 g
- Omega-6: 5.84 g.
Storage of chia seeds
Whole chia seeds shall be stored for at least one year at room temperature. Natural antioxidants from the seeds provide them with stability. Storage in a closed container will help to extend its term of validity.
How to consume chia seeds
The maximum recommended daily dose for an adult is 40 grams, preferably divided into two portions. For children, this dose is 20 grams.
Because their taste is neutral, chia seeds can be used in different ways: in dishes, desserts, drinks, when thickening sauces instead of eggs, as such or ground.
There are many ways to introduce chia seeds into your daily diet, from eating them raw, in salads or yogurts, into fresh juices or fruit mixes, or in complex recipes. Chia seeds behave like miniature sponges, for example, they have the ability to absorb a large amount of liquid, up to 12 times their own weight, in less than 10 minutes. Therefore, if consumed simply, it is recommended to be accompanied by a large glass of water or to be left to soak in liquid beforehand to avoid dehydration of the body or thirst after consumption.
⚠ Unlike other seeds, they do not need to be ground before they are consumed to obtain their nutritional benefits - their consumption as such will have the same effect.
Another way to use them in recipes is grinding, thus obtaining a fine powder. This variant is especially useful when used as thickeners or not to change the texture of a food.
The inclusion of chia seeds in the diet can cause some gastrointestinal conditions, such as gas or bloating, these reactions due to the sudden increase in fiber consumption. During the consumption of chia seeds, drink plenty of water and gradually increase the consumption of fiber to minimize the less pleasant effects.
Benefits of consuming chia seeds
- Prevents early aging and fight free radicals due to antioxidants contained in phenolic acids and isoflavones.
- Helps the body in the fight against macular degradation, due to the antioxidant content: kaempferol, quercetin and myricetin.
- Has an important role in brain functioning, normal body development and reducing the risk of heart and cardiovascular disease due to their high content of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
- Inhibits appetite and is recommended in diets for weight loss. The fibers they contain absorb large amounts of water and extend into the stomach, reducing hunger and the proteins in the composition support digestion and reduce appetite.
- Energy source - a spoon of seeds provides a person's energy throughout the day.
- Prevents diabetes and have a low glycemic index. Adjusts the level of insulin in the blood, may reduce insulin resistance.
- Are recommended for athletes for strength and hydration. Chia seeds are rich in magnesium, an element that plays an important role in the development of muscles, in the functioning of the nervous system, also regulates the balance of water and salt.
- Chia seeds have an iron-rich content, a compound essential for the formation of hemoglobin.
- Helps detoxify the body and prevents constipation.
- Maintain healthy bones due to their nutrient-rich composition: calcium and phosphorus, which is the structural compound of teeth, bones and cells.
- Protects the body from harmful environmental factors. They contain selenium, a natural antioxidant that, acting together with vitamin E, protects against damage caused by free radicals.
- Supports muscle mass formation due to the proteins in the composition.
- May lower body cholesterol, blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- A diet rich in chia seeds can lead to increased healthy fats in the body, weight loss and reduced triglyceride levels.
- Maintains dental health.
- Reduces the risk of colon cancer by improving intestinal health.
Contraindications and precautions
- In isolated cases, it has been found that they can cause allergies;
- Not recommended for people preparing for operations or taking aspirin;
- Given their ability to lower blood pressure, they are not indicated to hypotensive people;
- People with digestive problems should avoid them;
- In the case of regular consumption, in order to avoid overdose, nutritional supplements containing vitamin B17 are not indicated, because chia seeds themselves contain an important vitamin B complex;
- It is recommended that pregnant or breastfeeding women consult a specialist before including them in the diet.
Did you know that...?
- The name of the seeds of "chia" is derived from the ancient Mayan language meaning "force" and "power".
- Chia seeds contain:
- 5 times more calcium than milk;
- 3 times more antioxidants than blueberries;
- 3 times more iron than spinach;
- 3 times more fiber than wheat, oats or any other type of cereals;
- 2 times more potassium than bananas;
- more Omega 3 than salmon.
- Chia seeds can increase their volume up to 8 times.
- The ancient Indians used them to remove eye infections by simply placing a seed in each eye.
- lower blood sugar
- protects blood vessels
- protects the muscles
- induce the feeling of satiety
- protects from pollution, UV rays and cigarette smoke.
- aspirin consumption
- consumption of supplements
- digestive problems.