Chia seeds were relatively unknown outside Mexico and South America till a few years ago. Then Hollywood celebs and their food fads shone the spotlight on these nutrient-dense energy boosters.
A staple of the ancient Mesoamerican diet, the seeds offered complete nutrition that did not spoil or go rancid. No wonder the word “chia” itself means strength. Ancient Aztec warriors kept them close for energy and stamina during battle as these could sustain them for long periods of time.
The medicinal and nutritional benefits of chia seeds were so highly valued that these were not just offered as precious gifts to god, but also used as currency to trade in.
Chia seeds are good for promoting healthy skin, reducing signs of aging, supporting the heart and digestive system, building stronger bones and muscles, and more.
1. Skin and Aging: One of nature’s richest high-antioxidant foods, it helps in skin repair preventing further damage. It can also prevent premature skin aging due to inflammation and free radical damage.
2. Healthy Digestion: High in fibre, chia seeds are a natural sugar balancer. Fibre is necessary to balance the insulin levels and fills your stomach. This also ensures bowel regularity and healthy stool. This may explain why clinical studies have proved that chia curbs hunger and suppresses appetite, which can also lead to weight loss.
3. Heart Health: Chia seeds have the ability to reverse inflammation, regulate cholesterol and lower blood pressure. That is because it is high in Omega 3, higher than even salmon.
4. Help Treat Diabetes: Being rich in alpha-linolenic acid and fibre, chia seeds can help prevent metabolic disorders like dyslipidemia (excessive fat in the blood) and insulin resistance, which are two factors in the development of diabetes. Thus, they not only halt diabetes but can reverse it as well.
5. Boost Your Energy and Metabolism: A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning concluded that consuming chia seeds enhanced exercise performance for workouts that lasted 90 minutes the same way a sugar-laden sports drink would, but without all the unhealthy sugar. By adding a serving of chia seeds a day, you can help boost your metabolism and burn belly fat as well. Studies show that the addition of chia seeds to your diet also reduces visceral adipose tissue, a “belly fat” tissue that effects the metabolism of the body and is a component of obesity.
6. Stronger Bones: Just one ounce of chia seeds has about 18 per cent of the recommended daily amount of calcium, fundamental to bone health. Chia also contains boron, which is another essential nutrient for bone health, that helps metabolise calcium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus for healthy growth of bones and muscles.
7. Build Muscle and Lose Weight: Chia seeds are among the top plant-based sources of protein. Hence they help in building lean muscle and burning fat. One of the characteristics that make chia seeds so unique is they can absorb up to 10 times their own weight in water. Because of this, chia seeds can prolong hydration and improve nutrient absorption of electrolytes. This also slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer, reducing sugar cravings. It is also high in zinc and helps in generating leptin – a hormone that regulates appetite and energy levels.
8. Fight Breast and Cervical Cancer: Chia seeds are cancer-fighting foods, and help in combating breast and cervical cancer.
9. Dental Health: Packed with calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A and zinc, chia seeds keep your teeth healthy. It prevents tartar and has an an anti-bacterial effect that keeps bad breath germs away.
10. Pregnancy Benefits: Being rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients and minerals, this is a superfood for expectant mothers.
Here are a few recipes that say cheers to chia!