Chia seeds are one of nature’s gift to mankind. Nutritional experts regard it as a super food. The word ‘chia’ is derived from the Aztec word “chian”, which means oil. Several studies suggest that including chia seeds in your diet improves cardiovascular diseases by lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. The high nutrient content in chia seeds prevents hypertension, maintains a healthy weight and promotes tissue regeneration.
Chia seeds are native to Mexico and belong to a flowering plant in the mint family. The seeds are white, gray or black in color. They are highly nutritious. It originated in Central America and has been a staple in the Aztec and Mayan diet for centuries.
Chia Seeds Benefits
Skin Benefits of Chia Seeds:
1. Keeps acne at bay:
These seeds have anti-inflammatory properties, which restore the skin’s moisture, reduce skin redness and prevent acne.
The oil extracted from chia seeds has amazing benefits for the skin. Chia seed oil is clinically proven to increase the skin’s hydration. It reduces trans-epidermal water loss and prevents moisture loss in even the driest of skin. Rub chia seed oil on excessively dry areas like the elbows, cuticles and heels to make them smooth and soft to touch. You can add a few drops of chia seed oil to your moisturizer for enhanced hydration.
3. Natural Serum:
Chia seed oil can also be an excellent replacement for your chemical-laden serum. Pour 3 drops on your hand and apply it lightly on the skin. This will give a healthy glow to your skin. It also prevents makeup from melting or creasing. Regular consumption of chia seeds encourages healthy cellular function, increasing skin radiance.
4. Prevent the signs of ageing:
Chia seed oil is loaded with high levels of antioxidants and phytonutrients. In fact, it contains 30% more antioxidants than blueberries. It contains Alpha-Lipoic acid, a powerful antioxidant that minimizes fine lines, wrinkles and enlarged pores.
Hair Benefits of Chia Seeds:
Chia seeds are chock-full of nutrients that promote hair growth and prevent hair fall. Read on further to know about the nutrients responsible for promoting the health of the hair.
Chia seeds are an excellent source of plant-based protein, which is crucial for hair growth. Insufficient protein may cause stunted hair growth and hair fall.
Copper is crucial for the proper growth of the hair. Copper promotes the production of melanin, which delays the graying of hair and intensifies the original hair color.
Zinc in chia seeds plays a very important role in the production of new hair cells, which maintains the oil-secreting glands. A constant supply of sebum in the scalp will keep your crowning glory shiny and well-conditioned.
8. Alpha-linoleic acid:
Chia seeds are one of the best natural sources of alpha-linoleic acid, an essential omega 3 fatty acid that plays several important functions in the body. A deficiency in alpha-linoleic acid is often associated with a flaky and dry scalp.
Chia seeds are an excellent source of iron. An adequate supply of iron is crucial for healthy hair. It helps to transport oxygen to the scalp and hair. Depleted iron stores are one of the most common causes of premature hair loss in women.
Health Benefits of Chia seeds:
Chia seeds are extremely rich in fiber, antioxidants and several other nutrients, making them highly nutritious for daily consumption. Apart from its nutritional value, chia seeds are also associated with several health benefits. Some of the chia seeds health benefits include:
10. Heart health:
The essential fatty acids in chia seeds increase the good cholesterol and reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol in the blood. The increased good cholesterol improves heart health, preventing diseases and strokes. Regular consumption of chia seeds can help to lower the systolic and diastolic pressure.
11. Blood sugar levels:
Chia seeds are considered a potential natural treatment for type 2 diabetes. It reduces insulin resistance and decreases the high levels of insulin in the blood. The unique combination of soluble and insoluble fiber slows down the rate at which the complex carbohydrates are digested and assimilated by the body. It slows down the conversion of carbohydrates in the sugar, stabilizing blood sugar. Chia seed has an extremely low glycemic index of 1, which helps to lower the rate at which carbohydrates are converted into sugar.
Balanced blood sugar levels not just lower the possibility of type 2 diabetes, but also provide constant energy to carry out the day-to-day activities. The combination of complete protein, vitamins and minerals makes sure that the energy levels stay steady throughout the day. One tablespoon serving of chia seeds provides energy for almost 24 hours. It also helps athletes perform better for a longer period.
13. Muscle and tissue regeneration:
The essential fatty acids present in chia seeds boost metabolism, promoting lean muscle mass. Chia seeds promote the regeneration of damaged muscles and tissues. It contains protein and balanced amino acids that help to maintain lean muscle mass.
14. Anti-Inflammatory Properties:
In a study, those patients who consumed chia seeds regularly reported reduced inflammation and pain in just a few weeks. The high concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids lubricate the joints, keeping them supple. The omega 3 fatty acids convert into prostaglandins, providing pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects.
15. Weight Loss:
Chia seeds add bulk to the food, without adding any extra calories. It also contains minerals like boron, magnesium and other vitamins that curb cravings for food. The combination of protein, fiber and the gelling actions of chia seed keep you satiated, lowering food cravings between meals. Chia seeds fight insulin resistance, which can increase belly fat. It also contains tryptophan, an amino acid that regulates appetite and sleep. Consume a handful of chia seeds every day for losing weight.
16. High Quality Protein:
Chia seed is the highest plant-based source of complete protein. It provides around 20% of protein, which is much higher than the protein present in wheat and rice. It contains strontium, which helps in the assimilation of protein.
Chia seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants. It contains 20% more antioxidants than fresh blueberries. It contains antioxidants like chromogenic acid, quercetin, caffeic acid, myricetin and kaempferol flavonols glycosides. The high content of antioxidants prevents the seeds from getting rancid. The antioxidants prevent free radical damage. Free radicals often cause inflammation and premature ageing of the skin.
18. Brain Power:
Chia seeds can help to improve the function of the brain. The essential fatty acids in chia seeds make the cell membranes more flexible and efficient. It also makes the nutrients more easily available, making nerve transmission more efficient. This helps to improve memory and concentration power.
19. Bone health:
A single serving of chia seeds provides 18% of the daily-recommended value of calcium. This is very beneficial for maintaining the health of the bones and preventing osteoporosis. It contains high amounts of calcium and is also a rich source of boron. Boron is a trace mineral that speeds up the rate at which calcium is absorbed in the body.
20. Reduces Inflammation:
The high levels of essential fatty acids in chia seeds provide anti-inflammatory properties. It aids in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and reduces C-reactive protein, an inflammation marker. The anti-inflammatory properties of chia seeds are very beneficial for arthritic patients. It helps to reduce joint stiffness and pain.
21. Digestive health:
Chia seeds are an excellent source of high fiber. 2 tablespoons of chia seeds provide 10 grams of fiber, amounting to one-third of the daily-recommended fiber intake. It contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. Taking chia seeds regularly sweeps the toxins and wastes from the stomach, detoxifying the system naturally. The soluble fiber in chia seeds acts as a pre-biotic, feeding the good bacteria in the digestive system. It also aids in the assimilation of other foods. The swelling actions of chia seeds help to cleanse and soothe the colon, strengthening the peristaltic action.
22. Prevent Diverticulitis / Diverticulosis:
Highly processed and refined foods contribute to the risk of diverticulitis. The insoluble fiber in chia seeds helps to keep the food moving smoothly through the digestive system. Soluble fiber and the gel coating of chia seeds keep the colon hydrated and ensure the easy movement of food.
Recommended Daily Amount:
Eating two spoons of chia seeds a day can help you stay fit and healthy. However, it is advisable to consult your doctor before including chia seeds in your diet.
- Adult: 15 grams of chia seeds daily
- Minor: 1.4 to 4.5 grams of chia seeds daily
- For cardiovascular shielding: 30 to 42 grams of chia seeds for 3 months.
How to Use Chia Seeds:
Chia seeds have a mild, nutty flavor. These seeds can be eaten raw or prepared in a number of dishes. Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds do not need to be ground to obtain its nutritional benefits. The body can easily digest the whole seeds. You can add chia seeds to any food or drink without changing its actual flavor.
Chia seeds are widely used in Mexico to make Chia Fresca. Chia Fresca is prepared by mixing the seeds with water and adding lemon juice to it.
Whole or ground chia seeds can be sprinkled on salads, cereals, smoothies and yoghurt. Not just the seeds, the sprouts of chia seeds are edible too. The sprouted chia seeds are used in salads and sandwiches.
The seeds are absorbent and develop a gelatin-like structure when soaked in water. The gel made from chia seeds is used for thickening sauces and gravies. It is also added to porridges and puddings. This helps lower cholesterol levels and increases the nutrient content of foods. Mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and leave it for 15 minutes.
Chia seed is a gluten-free source of fiber and nutrition. People who are allergic to gluten can include chia seeds safely in their diet.
Chia seeds have a good shelf life. They can be stored for more than 2 years without the addition of chemicals and preservatives.
Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds:
Besides being high in essential fatty acids, chia seeds also provide fiber and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, niacin, zinc and phosphorus. It contains nearly 5 grams of omega 3 fatty acids per serving. One serving of chia seeds provides 28 grams of manganese and 28 grams of protein. It also provides 27% of the daily value of phosphorus. The omega 3 fatty acids are also required for better absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E and K.
|Nutritional value per 100 g.|
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||30.74 g||102%|
|Dietary Fiber||34.4 g||91%|
|Vitamin A||54 IU||2%|
|Vitamin E||0.5 mg||3%|
Chia Seeds Side Effects:
Some of the side effects of chia seeds include:
- Excess consumption of chia seeds can lead to gastrointestinal disruptions and bloating.
- Chia seeds can cause allergies in extremely sensitive people. People who suffer from mustard seed allergies should stay away from chia seeds. Allergic reactions can occur in the form of watery eyes, skin eruption and diarrhea.
- People who take blood-thinning, blood pressure and medicinal drugs for cancer should not take chia seeds without proper medical advice. The seeds contain omega 3 fatty acids that can thin the blood.
- Chia seeds contain high amounts of alpha-linoleic acid that can increase the possibility of prostate cancer in men.
- A research done in Canada has indicated that chia seeds can lower diastolic pressure at alarming levels. Low blood pressure patients should stay away from chia seeds.
- Consuming chia seeds and Vitamin B 17 supplements can lead to an overdose of phytonutrients.
- Pregnant and lactating mothers should strictly consult their doctors before consuming chia seeds.
Stick to the recommended dosage for chia seeds to avert its side effects.
Chia seeds are truly beneficial in many ways. You can reap optimum benefits if you practice a little discretion while consuming chia seeds. Do leave us your feedback below.