Tiny but healthy: Here’s what you need to know about Chia seeds

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For the past few years, these tiny black, white, brown seeds called Chia seeds have gained popularity over health-conscious individuals and especially those who are planning to lose weight. From beverage to baked goods, read more below to know its origin and health benefits.

 

A good source of energy

The ancient civilization believed that Chia seeds can give supernatural powers probably because of the large amount of energy it provided, which also explained its name “Chia,” a Mayan term for “strength”.

Chia (Salvia hispanica), also called Mexican chia or Salba chia, is a type of flowering plant belonging to the mint family (Lamiaceae) and grown for its edible seeds. The plant is native to Mexico and Guatemala, where it was an important crop for pre-Columbian Aztecs and other Mesoamerican Indian cultures.

 

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Today, these seeds have been touted for their health benefits, high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, and are now grown commercially in several countries, including Mexico, South America, and Australia.

 

Health Benefits

Small in size, rich with nutrients.

Despite its size, Chia seeds contain important nutrients. It’s rich in fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants, as well as iron and calcium. A 25g portion of seeds has approximately 9g of fiber. The daily recommendation for fiber consumption is 30g. Fiber is important for a healthy digestive system and the feeling of fullness, which limits eating more than what you should be consuming. This is also why it is good for losing weight.

Furthermore, Chia seeds also contain Omega-3 fatty acids that are known for their anti-inflammatory effects, as well as their potentiality in enhancing brain and heart function. It provides a high source of protein, particularly useful for vegetarians and vegan diets.

When placed in water, the seeds expand like a gel, which means it may work as an appetite suppressant and therefore help in losing weight. It also showed promise in reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke, though further studies are needed to pursue.

 

Side effects

It is, however, to note of a few reported side effects of consuming Chia seeds. When consumed too much, it may cause constipation and other digestive issues, so it is important to drink plenty of water.

Another noteworthy incident on eating Chia seeds is a reported rare case at the American College of Gastroenterology Annual Scientific Meeting in 2014 wherein a patient ate dry Chia seeds followed by a glass of water. The seeds, unfortunately, expanded in the esophagus, causing a blockage.

Because they quickly swell after absorbing liquid, it is advisable to soak the seeds first or serve it in moist food, such as oatmeal and yogurt, before eating. Do not eat dry Chia seeds by themselves. Also, people who have dysphagia or other digestive issues should be wary of eating the seeds.

 

Preparations

The seeds can be eaten either raw or coupled in a number of dishes. It has a mild, nutty flavor that you can either sprinkle ground or whole on cereals, rice, yogurt, or vegetables. In Mexico, a dish called Chia fresco is made by soaked Chia seeds in fruit juice or water.

 

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It does not have a strong flavor which is good when mixed with other ingredients. Since it is very absorbent and forms a gelatinous texture when soaked with water, Chia seed can also be a good substitute for eggs and soup thickener.

Egg Replacer: For 1 whole egg, mix 1 tablespoon of whole chia seeds or 2 teaspoons ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water. Allow to sit for at least 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a raw scrambled egg.

Aside from the seeds, the sprouts are also edible. Try adding them to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes.

As of its shelf life, the seed can last as up to 4-5 years without refrigeration. Just make sure to store it in a cool, dry place.

 

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