The Power Pack of Chia Seeds
By Laura D. Field – February 09, 2017
Who would have thought that a little tiny black, beady type seed could provide such a powerhouse of added health benefits? In addition, for those with health issues requiring elimination or reduction of gluten foods, Chia seeds are a whole grain food that is 100% gluten free.
Grown natively in South America, Chia seeds were an important food sources for the Aztecs and Mayans, as they provided them with sustainable energy and strength. Today, it is now considered a supper food, popular worldwide by health conscious individuals.
Historically, the Aztec and Mayan diets consisted of chia seeds for their basic survival ration for their warriors. It was believed that one tablespoon of this nutrient would sustain a person for 24 hours. This makes sense to me, only because after consuming chia seeds, I am satiated for a longer period of time. “The Aztecs recognized the medicinal benefits of chia, using it to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin.” (Weil, A. MD)
A 1 ounce (28 grams or 2 Tbsp.) serving of chia seeds has 101 kCals and contains:
- Fiber: 11 grams
- Protein: 4 grams.
- Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are your needed Omega-3’s)
- Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
- Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
- Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
- Additional Nutritional Benefits: They also contains a reasonable amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.
Along with blueberries, chia seeds provide a wealth of antioxidants, which fight the production of free radicals that can damage molecules in our cells that contribute to ageing and disease. These antioxidants also protect the chia seed, in that it prevents the seeds from going rancid.
The 11 grams of fiber come from the 12 grams of carbohydrates found in 1 ounce of chia seeds. By weight, they are 40% fiber. Although carbohydrates are important in that one should be aware of their consumption, the 12 grams of carbs that are found in chia seeds are actually 11 grams of fiber. This makes the carbohydrate content low, while benefitting our nutritional need for fiber.
Fiber helps to keep blood sugar in line, yet in addition to that, since chia seeds absorb 10-12 times their weight in water, it can help one to feel full while it slows the absorption of food nutrients. This slow absorption will make one feel fuller while signaling your brain to eat less.
With all the health news sharing about probiotics, and how they benefit the healthy bacteria in our gut, it is good to know that Chia seeds will also feed the friendly bacteria within our intestines. This does NOT mean, that if your physician deems it necessary to consume probiotic supplements (such as when you are on antibiotics or if your immune system is compromised) that you should stop consuming those supplements. Always discuss with your physician when you wish to replace a recommended supplement with any food or herbal alternate.
Comparatively as a plant, they are very high in protein, and by weight 14% proteins. As with fiber, a high protein diet intake can reduce appetite.
Protein is beneficial for those on vegan or low protein (animal meat) diets. For those who are trying to lose weight and go by the standard of utilizing lots of protein, one can obtain your daily needs more efficiently by using chia seeds and reducing the various other protein sources on the market that can have higher calories and often times unnecessary fillers.
NOTE: Please understand, there is no scientific evidence that chia seeds will help one lose weight. Consuming sufficient protein and fiber in one’s diet, is only part of the equation in maintaining a healthy weight or weight loss. It is a balance between good nutrition, daily exercise and rest.
Although it is true that Chia Seeds have a great deal of Omega-3’s, the source is plant based which is provided in the form of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA). Humans are not efficient in converting the ALA Omega-3 fatty acids to the healthy benefits of Omega Eicosapentaenoice Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) to benefit our health needs. Your best source of Omega-3’s (EPA’s & DHA’s) are acquired through marine life such as fish and krill.
The calcium content has 18% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Those who do not drink or consume enough calcium (natural or enriched) foods would benefit with this addition to their diet. Those dealing with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis would also benefit. Please be sure to discuss this with your physician, to be sure that having this in your diet will not affect other treatment you might be on.
Although there are other speculated benefits based on the nutritional attributes, meaning no real studies done, it is worth noting some of the “possible” benefits I have read include:
- Lowering the risk of heart disease
- Lowering the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Improving athletic endurance
- And since magnesium is used to help those with migraines, in my opinion, it is quite possible this will help those who suffer from these horrible headaches as it contains 30% of the RDA for magnesium.
How have I incorporated Chia Seeds into my diet?
- Home made puddings (makes them thicker, more so if you are using a milk substitute such as coconut milk)
- Protein or Fruit smoothies
- Vegetable and Rice Stir-fry’s
- Added to my steal cut oatmeal
- Baking – muffins, granola bars, cookies (don’t worry family and friends, I don’t usually share these unless I let you know upfront), etc.
- Soups, stews, chili, and crockpot meals
- Sprinkled on unsweetened Greek yogurt, in which I personally use as a salad dressing
These little tiny seeds might make one wonder how such a little seed can be beneficial, or more importantly how it will affect the taste of food. Personally I have not experienced any ill-effects from consuming chia seeds.
Making choices to be healthy,
Laura – Blogger and paid Freelance writer
Potpourri of Health www.potpourriofhealth.com
Freelance writer at www.reflectivetapestryoflife.com
Seamstress consultant at www.davinadawnsewing.com
- Gunnars, K., BSc. (2016, August 18). 11 Proven Health Benefits of Chia Seeds. Retrieved February 08, 2017, from https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/
- Weil, A., MD. (2006, May 15). Benefits of Chia Seeds – Chia Seeds Nutrition | Dr. Weil. Retrieved February 09, 2017, from http://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/nutrition/what-is-chia/
- Mercola, Dr. (n.d.). Ultimate Guide to Omega-3 Benefits, Sources and Supplements. Retrieved February 08, 2017, from http://articles.mercola.com/omega-3.aspx