Chia seeds are being touted as a highly affordable superfood but did you know that these tiny seeds were once an important part of the Aztec diet many centuries ago? Although, chia seeds have been consumed in countries like Mexico and Guatemala for many years, researchers actually began to study this little seed in further detail only around 30 years back. Chia seeds are available in three colors- white, black and in a dark brown shade. Although you may also find chia seeds in a red shade, these aren’t fully matured and are hence, best avoided. Nutritionists recommend eating a blend of both dark and white seeds as the darker variety have a higher content of antioxidants. These versatile little seeds can be enjoyed in a number of ways. For example, you can add a handful to a bowl of salad greens for extra crunch or even grind them into fine powder for extra goodness in homemade bread, cakes, cupcakes and the like.
So what exactly does a handful of chia seeds contain? The USDA National Nutrient Database says that for every 28 grams of these seeds, you get:
8 grams of fat
12 grams of carbohydrates
10 grams of fiber
5 grams of protein
In addition, chia seeds benefits also include 27% of phosphorus of the RDA, 30% of manganese of the RDA, 30% of magnesium of the RDA as well as other trace minerals like zinc and copper. In fact, an added benefit of chia seeds is that it also takes care of 19% of an adult’s daily calcium requirement besides containing vitamins B1, B2 and B3. Chia seeds are often compared to flax seeds since both give similar health benefits, but it has been proven that chia seeds clearly wins hands down due to its higher content of omega- 3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorous and fiber.
So What Makes Chia Seeds a Superfood?
First, let’s understand the meaning of the term ‘superfood’. A ‘superfood’ is considered to be a storehouse of multi nutrients which contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and polyphenols in substantial amounts. Besides, giving the body a number of health boosting benefits, superfoods are also low in calories, thus making them a natural dieter’s delight. In the same way, the benefits of chia seeds too are many:
It's high antioxidant content
The high antioxidant content means that chia seeds help to destroy any free radicals that could possibly cause cancer and other ailments in the body. Antioxidants play a very important role in helping an adult body stay young from within and also help to prevent the fat content in chia seeds from going stale. In fact, this also means that chia seeds do not need to be refrigerated at all.
Fiber rich Properties
By taking two tablespoons of chia seeds every day, you give your body an extra shot of 10 grams of fiber. Including fiber in one’s diet is very important because it helps to maintain a healthy colon thereby reducing inflammation and literally acts like a mop that absorbs toxins, thus removing them easily from the body. Not to forget, eating fiber rich foods also helps an adult stay full for longer.
Natural Diabetes Buster
Chia seeds may be the much sought after answer to an effective treatment for Type 2 diabetes because of its ability to keep blood sugar levels stable. Unlike other foods that have a high carbohydrate content and which causes blood levels to spike up, chia seeds help to keep one full for longer. This may be due to the manner in which its consistency changes to a gelatin like substance when mixed with water.
Omega 3 rich Superfood
The presence of omega 3 fatty acid or Alpha-Linolenic- Acid to be more specific is another factor that makes consuming chia seeds so beneficial to one’s health. The presence of natural plant based Omega 3 fatty acids plays a major role in lowering triglyceride levels, maintaining the level of good cholesterol in the body, protecting the liver and boosting immunity naturally.
Rich in Protein
Considering that chia seeds are a plant based food, the protein content is quite substantial when compared to other plant based seeds and nuts. Incorporating a healthy amount of protein in the diet helps in controlling sudden snacking urges, keeps one full for longer and also plays an important role in weight control.
Stay Bone Healthy
We usually don’t think much about maintaining overall bone health but the high presence of minerals and nutrients in chia seeds means that these little seeds can help prevent osteoporosis in elderly people and promote overall bone health. Plus, they are rich in calcium too and are a great alternative for people who are vegan or who have an allergy to gluten and dairy products.
How to Consume Chia Seeds
1. As a Topping
Chia seeds can be added as a topping to organic or soy milk, to milkshakes, in probiotic yoghurt and even in sauces. However, do be warned- chia seeds tend to resemble gelatin once they come into contact with any liquid so if you want to enjoy a crunchy snack, add the seeds just before eating.
2. In a Jam
Give your morning jam an extra health boost by adding a tablespoon of chia seeds to the jam, just before spreading it on a slice of bread. In fact, if you would prefer to make your own jam instead, chia seeds are a wonderful add-on ingredient you could use.
3. In Smoothies & Milkshakes
If you like to kick-start your day with a home-made fruit or veggie smoothie, chia seeds are the one ingredient you shouldn’t miss out on. Blend them with a few of your favorite veggies or fruits and you’ll get a thick smoothie that can literally be eaten with a spoon.
4. In Desserts
Can chia seeds really be used in desserts? Yes, they can and guess what; they’re really tasty to eat as a sweet treat too. Chia seed pudding is one of the healthiest desserts you can enjoy after a heavy meal without the need to feel guilty about a sweet indulgence afterwards. You can even add them as a topping to your ice-cream or mousse.
5. In Your Energy Drink
Tired after a grueling workout at the gym? Instead of drinking just a protein shake, why not give yourself a natural antioxidant shot by blending your shake with a handful of chia seeds? These seeds do a great job of keeping your energy levels high and boost your mood too.
5. In a Trail Mix
You can make your own healthy low calorie trail mix by combining a variety of nuts and dried fruits in an airtight container. Keep one such container on your office table and reach out for it whenever you feel hungry.
Chia Seeds have many benefits and that’s’ why these little seeds have rightly earned their place in the Hall of Superfoods. So, give yourself and your family the multi- benefits of the seeds that the Aztecs revered, today.