What are Chia Seeds?

Nutrition
Jul 22, 2008
Nutrition

Chia seeds are one of nature’s superfoods – rich in essential fatty acids, protein, soluble fibre, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals – that is increasingly becoming popular among in recent years. They are easy to use, tastes good, and can become a vital addition to your diet. Read this article to learn more.

Chia Seeds and Essential Fatty Acids

Chia seeds contain 32 to 39 percent oil which has the highest natural percentage of alpha-linolenic acid or omega 3 – up to 64 percent. The oil is also rich in omega 6 essential fatty acids, and contains omega 3 to omega 6 ratio of 3:2. Chia seeds are also high in long-chain triglycerides, fatty acids that maintain the proper flexibility of the cell walls and also help restore the correct cholesterol to triglycerides ratio. The omega 3 found in chia seeds is converted by the body into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) fatty acids, which are also found in fish oil.

Essential fatty acids are important in the body as they help the muscles recover after exercise other physical activity. They also help increase the metabolism resulting to fat burning and weight loss. Essential fatty acids have a role in the generation of electrical currents that make the heart beat correctly. Additionally, they govern food absorption, mental health, and oxidation and growth.

Chia Seeds Nutrition

Aside from essential fatty acids, chia seeds also have lots of nutrients. It contains protein up to 23 percent. This protein is gluten free, a complete protein, and can be utilised by the body very effectively. Chia seeds are also high in B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, boron, and copper. In fact, chia seeds have more calcium than milk by up to six times. The calcium in chia seeds is more easily absorbable by the body than the calcium in milk. Chia seeds contain iron three times more than spinach, and magnesium fifteen times more than broccoli.

Chia Seeds and Antioxidants

Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants, especially chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, and flavonol glycosides. They also contain flavonoids such as myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol that help protect fatty acids from oxidation. These natural antioxidants mean that chia seeds do not require added natural antioxidants or refrigeration to remain fresh.

Chia Seeds, Energy, and Their Effect on the Colon

Chia seeds have the ability to absorb water over nine times their weight and then form a gel. This gel causes the carbohydrates to be slowly released into the body, and the carbohydrates are slowly being converted into glucose which is used for energy. This, in turn, keeps the body feeling fuller for a longer time. Chia seeds also contain soluble fibre up to five percent. It has mucilaginous properties that act as both a fibre source and a bulking agent. Its mucilaginous properties help soothe and cleanse the colon. Chia seeds also act as a sponge, absorbing toxins while also lubricating the colon, and strengthens the peristalsis of the intestines.

How to Use Chia Seeds

Chia seeds nutrition

Chia seeds can be used in any recipes that also uses flax seeds. Whole or ground chia seeds can be sprinkled on salads or cereals, or you can directly eat them as a snack. They can also be used in smoothies, sauces, or dressings. On the other hand, you can a tablespoon full of chia seeds into a glass of water or juice, stirring to remove the lumps, and drinking it after five minutes of letting it sit after stirring.

Another option is to make a gel with the chia seeds, which can be used in all kinds of foods.

Updated: 29 March 2019

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