Good things come in small packages – the same is true of chia seeds which are extremely miniscule yet are power packed with nutrients and minerals. Also known as salvia hispanica, chia seeds are native to Mexico, and belong to the mint family. They are believed to have been consumed by some of the ancient civilizations like the Mayans and the Aztecs. Chia seeds are grown primarily for their oil but gradually made way to the culinary world owing to their health benefiting properties. They are widely cultivated in parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Australia and Ecuador. Small oval shaped, they are soft seeds that are multicoloured – brown, black and white. One of the most interesting things about these wonderful seeds is their ability to soak up water. Chia seeds are hydrophilic, which means they can easily be mixed with water and can soak up to twelve times their weight!NUTRITIONAL PROFILE
Just 100 grams of chia seeds can load you up with some of the most essential nutrients including iron, calcium, thiamin, manganese, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous, B vitamins, folate and riboflavin. According to medical experts, small quantities of chia seeds added in daily diet can help strengthen immunity, boost metabolism and can also ward off some rampant ailments. Just in case you need more convincing for buying a pack of these super seeds and including them in your diet, here are some proven benefits of chia seeds consumption.
1. Aids in digestion:
Chia seeds are enriched with fiber. Every 100 gram will give you close to 40g of dietary fiber. Fiber is an excellent agent for digestion and helps keep bowel-related ailments (like constipation) away. Fiber also helps in relieving from bowel inflammation, irritability and helps in regulating cholesterol levels as well.
2. Weight Loss:
Believe it or not, seeds are the new superfoods as not only are they rich in fiber but provide energy too. Just a handful of chia seeds when mixed with nuts and dry fruits or included in smoothies or shakes can help you keep full for longer. These can soak a lot of liquid and expand in the stomach, which helps in suppressing appetite, warding off untimely hunger pangs, preventing binge-eating, and thereby facilitating weight-loss. Every 100g of chia seeds has close to 480 calories and 30g of fat out of which polyunsaturated fats (good/essential fats including omega 3, 6) make up to 23g.
3. Omega 3 Dose:
Omega 3 is extremely important for our body’s functioning. Chia seeds are one of the highest sources of plant-based omega acid, also known as Alpha Linolenic Acid (AHA). These are a part of polyunsaturated fats which are the ‘good fats’ and extremely essential for the nervous functioning of our body.
4. Essential Minerals and Antioxidants:
Chia seeds are loaded with essential nutrients and are suitable to give your daily diet a power boost. They are full of antioxidants that are linked with acting against inflammation, growth of cancer cells, ageing and age-related cognitive decline. Just a couple of spoons of chia seeds can make for 30 percent of your daily manganese requirement and 18% of your daily calcium requirement.
5. Maintains Blood Sugar and Cholesterol:
Chia seeds are good for your overall digestive and metabolic health. Some of the most recent studies have linked chia seed consumption with healthyblood sugar levels, HDL (good cholesterol), cholesterol as well as reduced levels of triglycerides (blood fat) and LDL (bad cholesterol). These can safely be consumed by diabetics and can also aid in maintaining healthy heart and bones. For all those who are gluten-allergic, there is some good news – chia seeds are absolutely gluten free!
However, please note that those who suffer from certain nut or seed-based allergies may get allergic to chia seeds. Those on blood thinning or blood pressure medication should also get in touch with a medical professional before including chia seeds in their regular diet.
HOW TO ADD CHIA SEEDS IN YOUR DIET
Chia seeds bear a distinct texture after getting soaked. They expand, become softer and carry a silky, velvety texture. Chia seeds can render a fresh dimension to your cooking. They are enjoyed best when added to smoothies, shakes or cold coffees. You can also sprinkle them atop salads, add them in dips and accompaniments, use them in making breads, muffins, granola bars; add them in cereals, trail mixes or simply eat them raw.