Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) are a source of Omega 3 fatty acids and are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and soluble fiber
Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico. Chia, is familiar to most of us as a seed used for the novelty of the Chia Pet, clay animals with sprouted chia seeds covering their bodies. Little is known, however, of the seeds tremendous nutritional value and medicinal properties.
For centuries this tiny little seed was used as a staple food by the Indians of the southwest and Mexico. Known as the running food, its use as a high energy endurance food has been recorded as far back as the ancient Aztecs. It was said the Aztec warriors subsisted on the chia seed during the conquests. Chia Seeds can be considered as a nutritional and antioxidant powerhouse. One ounce of chia seeds provides eleven grams of fiber. This amount also includes calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, copper, niacin, zinc and the proper ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Chia seeds are a rich source of antioxidants containing chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, myricetin, quercetin and kaempferol flavonols. These compounds are both primary and synergistic antioxidants that contribute to the strong antioxidant activity of chia.
Studies show that eating chia seed may slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrate calories into simple sugars. This leads scientists to believe that the chia seed may have great benefits for diabetics. Viscous fiber (that which appears like a gelatin) may possibly slow down the conversion of carbohydrates into sugars and helps support healthy blood sugar levels. This means it’s beneficial to mix Chia Seed in with food you already like to eat. Blood sugar naturally rises and falls throughout the day. It can also be what makes you drowsy in the afternoon. Dips and spikes aren’t good for consistent, healthy energy. The slowing of conversion of carbohydrates into sugar has the ability to create endurance. Carbohydrates are the fuel for energy in the body. Prolonging their conversion into sugar stabilizes metabolic changes, diminishing the surges of highs and lows creating a longer duration in their fueling effects. Protein fuels energy as well, and the protein in chia is complete.
One of the exceptional qualities of the Chia seed is its hydrophilic properties, having the ability to absorb more than 12 times its weight in water. Its ability to hold on to water offers the ability to prolong hydration. Fluids and electrolytes provide the environment that supports the life of all the body’s cells. Their concentration and composition are regulated to remain as constant as possible. With Chia seeds, you retain moisture and regulate with more efficiency the body’s absorption of nutrients and body fluids. Because there is a greater efficiency in the utilization of body fluids, the electrolyte balance is maintained.
You do not need to grind chia seeds in order to digest them. Chia is a relatively easy to digest seed and can be eaten raw as a dietary fiber, omega 3 and antioxidant supplement. Chia seeds soaked in fruit juice are commonly consumed in Mexico and known as chia fresca. The soaked seeds are gelatinous in texture and are used in porridge and puddings. Taste-wise, chia seeds have a slight nutty flavor and are a healthful addition to the diet. Some possible traditional characteristics of Chia seeds may include supporting cardiovascular health, being very high in soluble fiber, support healthy digestion and a healthy detoxification response, strong antioxidant benefits, support prolonged energy & endurance, supporting healthy weight loss – dieters trying to reduce calorie consumption and supporting healthy blood pressure levels.