Chia means strength in the Mayan language, and these tiny seeds are nutritional powerhouses deserving of the moniker. Chia seeds come from a plant found throughout the Californian and Mexican deserts. They resemble poppy seeds in size and colour but are almost tasteless. Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds do not have to be ground up to release their nutrients; they break down quite well in the human body. They contain so many antioxidants that they are shelf-stable for long periods. And they are naturally pest-resistant, so affordable organic varieties are often available.
One of the chia seed’s most interesting and beneficial qualities is that they are hydrophilic, meaning that they attract water. When added to liquid, they create a gel and swell up to 10 times their original size. They may help you lose weight by keeping you feeling fuller longer. Endurance athletes are finding that they can keep you hydrated longer as well by gelling up in the stomach and slowly releasing liquids over time.
The list of health benefits from the chia seed is impressively long; they outshine most other “superfoods”. They contain more calcium than milk and more potassium than bananas. They have the highest concentration of Omega 3s of any known plant and even outshine salmon in this way. More iron than spinach and more antioxidants than blueberries, chia seeds are one of the best sources of micronutrients that you can add to your diet.
They can also help you lose weight. High in fibre and protein while low in sugar, they make an excellent addition to many foods. They swell in the stomach, resulting in increased satiety and do not raise blood sugar levels. This can be very beneficial to dieters and diabetics by preventing blood sugar spikes and keeping hunger at bay. They take up the flavour of whatever they are added to, making low calorie but very filling chia puddings a popular choice for dieters. They have 12 grams of carbohydrates per ounce, but 11 are fibre. Fibre makes us feel full and feeds healthy gut bacteria. They also have 4.7 grams of high-quality, satiating protein packed into each serving.
Chia seeds are also good for alleviating many health conditions. They contain tryptophan and can help fight insomnia. Their Omega 3 profile is effective in lowering triglycerides and boosting healthy cholesterol levels. High calcium levels strengthen teeth and bones and help to fight off osteoporosis. They are especially beneficial for vegans who may struggle to find good sources of vegetable proteins, calcium, and fatty acids. In short, chia seeds are a true superfood. Almost everyone will benefit from adding them to their diet.