Chia seeds have already been used by the Aztecs and the Maya. They were extremely valuable ingredients for them, because the consumption of this product allowed for a long-lasting effort, and eating one spoon gave strength even for 24 hours of walking! In addition, these seeds are a valuable addition to the diet due to the high nutritional value and omega-3 content. Thanks to these properties, chia may be helpful in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, overweight and certain cancers. Why is it worth to introduce this product into your diet?
Chia seeds – characteristics of the Spanish sage
Sage Spanish, also called chia, is a species of plant from the family jasnotowatych. This plant reaches up to one meter high, its flowers develop oval seeds with a size of 1.5-2.5 mm in white, brown, gray or black. It comes from the central and southern parts of Mexico and from Guatemala. The word chia is derived from the word chian, which means oully in Nahuatl.
Aztecs started to cultivate this plant already in pre-Columbian times, because they believed that it helps maintain a healthy physical and mental condition. For the Indians of south-west part of Mexico, Spanish sage was the basic food.
Chia seeds – nutritional value
Nutritional and energy values in 100 g of chia seeds
Energy – 486 kcal
Protein – 16.54 g
Fat – 30.74 g
Carbohydrates – 42.12 g
Dietary fiber – 34.4 g
Calcium – 631 mg
Iron – 7.72 mg
Magnesium – 335 mg
Phosphorus – 860 mg
Potassium – 407 mg
Sodium – 16 mg
Zinc – 4.58 mg
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid – 1.6 mg
Thiamine – 0.620 mg
Riboflavin – 0.170 mg
Niacin – 8.830 mg
Vitamin A – 54 IU
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) – 0.50 mg
Saturated fatty acids – 3,330 g
Monounsaturated fatty acids – 2.309 g
Polyunsaturated fatty acids – 23.665 g
Trans fatty acids – 0.140 g
Chia seeds are rich in
– omega-3 acids – improve brain function, mood and concentration, contain three times more than Atlantic salmon;
– calcium, zinc, iron – affect the condition of hair, nails and skin, and strengthen the skeletal system;
– leptin – improves metabolism;
– fiber – cleanses the body of toxins;
– long-chain unsaturated fatty acids – prevent atherosclerosis;
– vitamins C, A, E, B1, B2, PP;
– antioxidants, including p-coumaric acid, gallic acid, epicatechin, rutin, apigenin.
Chia seeds – application and health-promoting effect
Chia seeds can be used in the prevention of many diseases, including diseases of the cardiovascular system, cancer and depression.
Omega-3 acids in chia seeds have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system.
They cause a decrease in the level of bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and increase HDL cholesterol. Similar effect is shown by dietary fiber contained in seeds of Spanish sage. It also prevents the formation of atherosclerotic plaque, which reduces the risk of atherosclerosis. Chia seeds contain potassium, which is responsible for regulating blood pressure and magnesium, calcium and sodium elements that support the work of the heart.
Chia seeds can reduce the risk of developing cancers, including breast and prostate cancer. The factor limiting the development of these diseases is alpha-linolenic acid present in large quantities in the Spanish sage.
Chia seeds improve memory and act prophylactically against the development of depression. The omega-3 acids contained in the seeds support the brain, improve concentration and have a calming effect. The use of this product may prevent the development of dementia and other diseases of the nervous system.
High content of dietary fiber (25%) improves the functioning of the digestive tract. The effect of stimulating the intestinal function influences the mitigation of constipation problems and supports the development of beneficial microflora.
Chia seeds should also be used in a slimming diet. Due to the large amount of fiber after eating this product, the feeling of satiety persists for a long time. The seeds swell and significantly increase their volume, which affects the effect of filling the stomach. Significant protein content also works positively by suppressing appetite.
Chia seeds – contraindications
Do not exceed the recommended doses, because a large amount of fiber may impair the absorption of many nutrients. Chia seeds can affect the effects of cardiac and antidiabetic medicines. People who take this type of preparation should contact their doctor before introducing Spanish sage into their diet. Chia are not recommended for older people, after surgeries, children, pregnant women and nursing women, because they cause blood thinning. Sage may cause allergy in people who are allergic to mustard due to the high similarity of the two proteins, but this is quite rare.
Chia seeds – how to use?
Chia seeds can be used to bake cakes, bread, pancakes or as a substitute for breadcrumbs. You can also make pudding from ground seeds. Chia works great as a thickener of soups and sauces. The seeds can be added to jams, oatmeal, yogurt, salads and other hot or cold products. In Central America, the Chia Fresca drink is very popular. It consists of two teaspoons of chia seeds and 250-300 ml of non-carbonated mineral water and lemon or lime juice.
Chia seed oil is also produced, which can be added, for example, to salads, just like olive oil. It contains a very high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids – about 64%, as well as omega-6 fatty acids. This oil should not be used for frying, because it loses its properties and nutritional values.
The recommended daily dose of chia seeds is about 2 tablespoons for adults (15-20 g). For children, it is 1.4-4.3 g per day.
Chia seeds due to the high content of antioxidants should be stored in a dry, cool and dark place. The shelf life is up to four years without deterioration in taste, smell and nutritional value. They should be stored in a tightly closed bag or container.
Chia seeds, due to their high nutritional value, are an ingredient that strengthens the body. In addition, due to the high content of omega-3 acids and fiber, they are beneficial in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases in the first place. They support the slimming process and can be a valuable component of a healthy diet.