Natural Health Tips

Chia Seeds: A Highly Nutritious and Versatile Superfood

Chia seeds are a great example of a super-seed; they are a concentrated source of health-promoting nutrients that are comparable to flax seeds, but unlike flax seeds they are more easily digestible whole and possess natural antioxidants.

Chia (Salvia hispanica L) is a plant belonging to the mint family. This plant produces tiny seeds which are packed with essential fatty acids, protein, fiber and many health-protective antioxidants. In fact, these super-seeds have twice the protein of any other seed or grain, five times the calcium of milk, contain a source of boron which is trace mineral that helps transfer calcium into the bones, and omega 3 and omega 6 which are essential oils, required for proper utilization of vitamins.

Chia seeds are:

  • Nutritious. Chia seeds provide a concentrated source of nutrients; they are a good source of B vitamins, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, potassium, boron, and copper. They also provide a source of high quality protein. Chia seeds provide a complete protein source, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids.

  • Easily digestible. The shells are easily broken down, even when swallowed whole. This is an improvement over flax seed, which have to be ground up to be digested properly. If flax seeds are eaten whole, they will just pass through the body undigested. Also, unlike flax seeds, if chia seeds are ground up they still have a long shelf life due to the presence of natural antioxidants. Flaxseeds, on the other hand must be ground daily to prevent oxidation and loss of nutrients.

  • High in dietary fiber. chia seeds contain soluble fiber which is easily digestible, it provides a feeling of fullness which aids weight loss, and they bulk up in the intestine, helping to cleanse it out more efficiently.

  • Mild tasting. Unlike some seeds, chia seeds are essentially flavorless, so they can be added to any food without changing its flavor.

  • Rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are needed by the body to help emulsify and absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Chia seeds contain the highest content of beneficial alpha-linolenic fatty acid compared to other seeds, including flax seeds.

  • Water loving. The seeds can soak up ten times their weight in water. When mixed with water or stomach juices, the seeds form a gel that creates a physical barrier between the carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down. The carbohydrates thereby are digested and converted into glucose (blood sugar) at a slower, more even rate and also help the body to stay hydrated longer.

  • Regenerating. After eating, the nutrients present in chia seeds travel to the cells very quickly due to the ease in digestion and assimilation.

  • Versatile. The seeds can be added to virtually any food or drink, from water, juices and smoothies, to salads, sauces and bread. The best way to eat the seeds is to take them already hydrated so they will not absorb your own body fluids to hydrate. Try adding a tablespoon of whole or ground seeds to a freshly-made juice or smoothie.
References for chia seeds