Chia seeds are originally from Mexico, chia is a plant of the sage family cultivated for millennia for its seeds with incomparable dietary qualities. Chia seeds were little known and little consumed outside their region of origin, until the early 1990s when their virtues were recognized by many nutritionists. The Chia seed’s health benefits are very useful when you have some food selection for your routine health eating checklist.
Shape and composition of chia seeds
Relatively small and round in shape, chia seeds have a texture reminiscent of poppy seeds. They can be black, brown, beige, gray or white depending on the variety, their color also depends on the harvest from one year to the next. In all cases, their nutritional qualities are very similar, although the brown to black seeds may have a slightly more pronounced taste.
Popular with vegetarians, vegans, and athletes in general, chia seeds contain an average of 23% protein, including all essential amino acids (AAE), which gives them a contribution equivalent to that of animal protein
Chia seeds are also rich in omega-3 (16 to 20%), good fatty acids that our body does not manufacture and which are essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system, but also for concentration and memory. Omega-3s also have a nourishing action for skin and hair. Another interest: omega-6, the seeds contain up to 5 to 8%, and have anti-inflammatory properties and participate in the protection of the cardiovascular system. On their own, two tablespoons of chia seeds cover 100% of the daily needs of omega-3, hence the interest of consuming it!
High in fiber (soluble and insoluble, between 30 and 40%), chia seeds balance and regulate intestinal transit smoothly and help prevent some cancers and type 2 diabetes.
They also provide many minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium), essential to maintaining good health. Because chia seeds contain up to 5 times more calcium than milk, they are an excellent alternative to consuming animal products!
Finally, chia seeds are rich in antioxidants and vitamins (flavonoids, vitamins B and E in particular), which fight against external aggressions related to industrial food, pollution, and sedentary lifestyle, as well as against cellular aging. See also Health benefits walnut in Winter that will set your mind regarding good health.
The composition of chia seeds offers them excellent nutritional values. But what about their calorie intake? A priori, it could be scary: there is indeed about 450 kcal in 100 grams of seeds. But do not run away! First, you never eat 100 grams a day. The recommended daily dose is 15 grams, which lowers the number of calories to just over 65.
In addition, calories are far from the only clue to consider when judging the health benefits of a food. However, in this case, the calorie content of chia seeds does not hinder their nutritional qualities. So you can eat without worrying about your weight!
If the chia seeds are crunchy eaten as they are, they also have, like flax seeds or psyllium, a mucilage capacity. In contact with water, the seeds swell and take on a gelatinous consistency, with adhesive and softening properties. As we will see together, this mucilage has many interests.
Benefits of Chia
1. fight against diabetes
Research is currently underway to study the efficacy of chia seeds as a treatment for type 2 diabetes (because they have a slowing effect on the digestive system). The research about Chia seed’s health benefits will give your more information that can change your mind to eat it in the future.
In addition, chia seeds form a gelatinous layer in contact with a liquid, which prevents the sugar level in your blood from making sudden ups and downs.
Chia seeds are high in fiber, which cannot be more beneficial to the general health of your digestive system. Plus, they can be a natural cure for constipation. They help reduce inflammation and keep cholesterol at a low level.
Be aware that only a small amount of chia seeds, just 28 g, are needed to provide 1/3 of the recommended daily fiber intake of an adult.
These seeds may be tiny, they have incredible power to make you feel fuller longer. In other words, your feeling of having eaten well lasts longer. As a result, you are less inclined to snack between meals.
There are 2 explanations of this benefit. On the one hand, the seeds agglutinate on contact with a liquid to form a sort of jelly. This results in an increase in the volume of seeds in your digestive system (like rice, for example).
On the other hand, chia seeds contain the amino acid tryptophan. This amino acid regulates your appetite (and also improves your mood and prepares you for sleep).
Healthy teeth and bones
Chia seeds have high calcium in it. This makes them incredibly beneficial to health and strengthens teeth and bones.
A single serving of chia seeds provides 18% of the recommended daily calcium intake. For information, 1 portion of chia seeds corresponds to 100 g. Find also good health by using Green Tea.
An alternative to eggs
Chia seeds are perfect for vegans and people allergic to eggs. Thanks to the gelatinous properties in contact with a liquid (mentioned above), chia seeds are an ideal replacement for eggs for baking recipes.
To prepare chia seeds as an egg substitute, simply mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Then, let it rest for 15 minutes and you’re done!
Good intestinal health
Thanks to their high content of soluble and insoluble fiber, chia seeds are a food of choice for the health of your digestive system. Two tablespoons (about 18 g) of chia seeds alone cover up to 20% of our daily fiber needs, hence the interest of including them in a varied diet. They are a natural cure for constipation, help reduce gut inflammation and maintain low cholesterol levels. Its mucilage properties will create a soft and gelatinous mass that will act like a sponge, dragging with them the toxic substances contained in the intestines and protecting the mucous membranes.
A protein-rich food
Chia seeds also have a high protein content, but without containing cholesterol. Protein should be a priority in your diet.
they help the body to form new cells and play a structural role in the functioning of the tissue. These are functions essential to our survival.
1 serving of chia seeds contains approximately 10% of your recommended daily protein intake. This is impressive since in general, most protein-rich foods are meat-based.
A decrease in the risk of diseases
Chia seeds have a high content of antioxidants. This means they can fight cancer and cardiovascular disease. They also preserve your skin, giving it a youthful and health appearance.
People who have a high intake of antioxidants are 40% less likely to have pancreatic cancer. In addition, they reduce the risk of a heart attack by 29%.
A healthy heart
I know that the risk of heart attack has just been mentioned, but chia seeds are good for the health of your heart for another reason.
This superfood also regulates your blood pressure – thanks to its high antioxidant content. Therefore, people with a high intake of antioxidants are 46% less likely to be prone to high blood pressure.
Better brain health
Chia seeds also contain interesting doses of omega-3 fatty acids. Know that omega-3 fatty acid must be part of your diet because it helps the functioning and well-being of your brain. In addition, omega-3 fatty acid also works as an anti-inflammatory and can fight depression, diabetes, obesity, and osteoarthritis.
How to consume chia seeds?
Possessing a sweet and fairly neutral taste, chia seeds can be used as a base or to complement all kinds of dishes, sweet or salty. To enjoy all their benefits, it is best to soak the seeds before eating, gelatin forming around seeds for better digestion and better assimilation of nutrients they provide.
Chia seeds can be used in both sweet and savory dishes for good health benefits. Here are two simple recipes that will make you want to adopt them.
1) Chia pudding
This is perhaps the most famous recipe based on chia seeds. It’s also the perfect snack between two meals!
For one person, you will only need:
- 200ml of the vegetable milk of your choice (such as soy milk, almond or coconut milk)
- 15g of chia seeds
Simply pour the chia seeds into the milk, mix everything and let it stay for at least an hour. This is the time that the seeds need to take a consistency similar to that of pudding, but for optimal results, it is generally advisable to let the preparation rest for at least 3 hours.
This is just the basic recipe and there are many variations. You can add sweet spices, such as cinnamon or vanilla powder, or pieces of fresh fruit. It’s up to you to find your favorite combo!
1) Chia seed salad
Here is another recipe that you can adapt according to your desires, or simply according to what you have in your fridge! For starters, we offer a salad with quinoa and spinach sprouts.
For one person, you will need:
- 35g of quinoa
- 15g of chia seeds
- Spinach shoots
- 1/2 lawyer
- 1 tomato
- A handful of nuts
- Olive oil.
Start by cooking the quinoa and slicing the avocado, tomato, and nuts. In a salad bowl, mix the spinach shoots (depending on the quantity desired), the cooled quinoa and the pieces of avocado, tomato, and walnuts. Add a little olive oil. Pour on a plate and sprinkle with chia seeds. Salt and pepper if necessary.
Chia seeds can be used in many dishes. Recipes like:
- Sprinkle the seeds on a salad of raw vegetables;
- Incorporate these seeds into your cereal bread recipes, or reduce them to powder for use as a supplement to the flour;
- Replace the eggs in your pastry recipes, leaving a tablespoon of seeds with 3 tablespoons of water for 15 to 30 minutes;
- Thicken your sauces thanks to the natural gelling power of chia seeds;
- mix a tablespoon of seeds in a glass of water to cut the hunger in the afternoon.
What precautions to take when eating chia seeds?
Research on chia seeds is not enough yet to know all their undesirable effects. For this reason, it is currently strongly recommended to limit to a daily dose of 15g.
Chia seeds, however, are not recommended in specific cases, either because of recognized or just suspected side effects.
First of all, if you are allergic to other seeds, such as flaxseed, sesame or mustard, it is best to avoid eating chia seeds or use them carefully. Indeed, you could be allergic to it too.
In addition, if you are taking medication, it is advisable to seek the advice of your doctor beforehand. This is especially the case if you are taking antihypertensives or anticoagulants. Because of their high alpha-linolenic acid content, chia seeds are also discouraged if you have prostate cancer. Side effects less serious, there is also the risk of gastrointestinal discomfort if you consume too large quantities.
Finally, be aware that if you eat them dry, chia seeds will tend to absorb liquids in your body, which could cause cramps so drink water.
If the nutritional qualities of chia seeds are no longer to prove, it is impossible to mention all the uses that allow this little seed as they are numerous! They are an important asset in the context of a healthy and diversified diet, and actively participate in your health capital.