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Chia Seeds – How to take them and what nutrients they provide

Chia Seeds – How to take them and what nutrients they provide

Chia seeds are small and black and they are regarded as one of the healthiest foods in the entire world. This is due to the fact that they are a great source of vegetable omega-3 and fiber. Keep reading to learn more about this exceptional product and its nutrients.

What is Chia?

Chia seeds come a herbaceous plant that belongs to the mint family, known as Salvia Hispanica. It is native to Mexico and Guatemala and history suggests that it was a very important crop for the Aztec people in ancient times.

In spite of its old history as one of the most basic foods in a diet, chia has become a modern superfood quite recently.

Chia seeds omega-3 and omega-6 content

In the last few years, it has become more popular and chia seeds are consumed by millions of people. The reason why it is quite simple since it has many beneficial properties for our health.

Unlike other seeds, you can purchase either whole or ground chia seeds. Others needs to be ground before its use in order to obtain their benefits.

What are the nutrients and benefits from taking Chia Seeds?

This product stands out due to its content in protein, calcium, fiber, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. Moreover it also has zinc, vitamin B3, potassium, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, which is very common among seeds.

Now, we will mention some of the most important benefits of each nutrient present in chia seeds:

Fiber

Chia is an ideal supplement if you suffer from constipation, diabetes, hypertension and/or high cholesterol. This is due to the fact that it is one of the richest sources of soluble fiber.

Chia seeds ingredient

The dietary fiber content is around 27.7g per 100g of seeds (14.1g of this fiber is soluble). Chia seeds also have a high mucilage content, which is a type of soluble fiber that becomes gel when the seed is soaked in water.

Consequently, it increases the seeds’ volume, which stimulates the peristalsis (intestinal movement) by pressuring the digestive tract walls. Moreover, this gel also hydrates and makes it easier for the food to go through the digestive tract, stimulating their excretion.

In addition, soluble fiber prolongs the time it takes to absorb the sugar in the intestine. This significantly drops the blood sugar peak that results from this process.

Chia seeds become gel

On top of that, it helps to lower the blood cholesterol since soluble fiber is involved in the bile cholesterol re-absorption. Moreover, this gel can stimulate the feeling of satiety for hours.

Essential fatty acids

A spoonful of chia seeds contains 2282mg of omega 3 and 752mg of omega-6 fatty acids. Chia is a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, even healthier that flax seeds.

According to a study published in 2005 in the Journal of “Nutrition Research”, chia seeds are the best vegetable source of alpha linolenic acid.

The researchers concluded that chia is the most promising source of this fatty substances for vegetarian people.

There are studies that have proven that a diet rich in omega-3 and omega-6 can lower the triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. All this while increasing the HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).

Omega-3 also has an anti-coagulant effect to prevent the blood coagulation.

Other studies suggest that these fatty elements can lower the blood pressure and the joint inflammation, among many other benefits.

Antioxidants

A serving of chia seeds

Chia is a natural source of antioxidants. The Food and Nutrition Department from the University of Purdue, Indiana (USA), conducted a study on chia in 2008. They informed that, among other things, it contained a remarkable amount of antioxidants: quercertin, kaempferol, myricetin, chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid.

Its antioxidant content allows the essential fatty acids to last for a long time without losing their properties. That is why the Mayas stored this product without using any kind of preservative.

Proteins

The protein content from chia is higher than other grains and seeds. A 20% of its weight is protein when compared to the 14% of wheat. Moreover, its protein has a higher quality due to its amino acid content.

Both wheat and chia are scarce in lysine, which tends to happen with vegetable protein sources. However, chia scores a 91 in amino acids (100 would mean that it has a complete aminogram) when compared to wheat, which scores only 55 in this scale.

Chia only lacks one essential amino acid, that is taurine, but it is very high in glutamic acid. Chia seeds can help to build and regenerate the muscles and tissues due to their high protein content. That is why they are perfect for athletes or during growing stages.

Vitamins and Minerals

Chia seeds provide complex B vitamins, which play an important role in food metabolism. Moreover, it also has vitamin C and vitamin E, which are excellent antioxidants. It is also rich in calcium which contributes to the growth of teeth and bones, muscle contraction, transmission of nerve signals and blood coagulation. In addition, it also contains boron, magnesium and iron.

Hydration

Chia seeds are a highly hydrophilic product which has the ability to retain around ten or fourteen times its weight in water. This ability can improve the hydration and preserve the electrolytes in the bodily fluids, especially while training. These hydrating properties can also prevent the muscle fatigue during physical exercise and support the post-workout recovery.

Chia seeds improve the recovery

Versatility

Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds have a smoother and more pleasant flavor, similar to that of walnuts. They can be combined with milk, yogurt, salads, fruit, sauces, soups, creams, vegetables, etc. You can use both the whole and ground format to cook bread, biscuits, energy bars or other recipes, even to thicken sauces and seasonings.

If you want to take advantage of all its nutrients we suggest eating the ground format. You can eat it at any time, but it is better to do so before the meals.

Gluten free

Chia seeds bowls

Chia is a gluten free source of fiber, which means that it is suitable for celiac people or those who are sensitive to wheat.

Possible contraindications

We need to pay attention to some of the contraindications of this product in order to avoid any issue. Its moderate consumption in a balanced diet will result in the benefits that we have previously discussed.

Eating it excessively can trigger negative effects such as gastrointestinal problems due to its high fiber content. If you happen to be allergic to chia seeds you will experience skin rashes, urticaria and watery eyes.

How to take Chia Seeds?

This product can provide many nutrients (like fiber or proteins) for athletes or those who do not do physical exercise regularly. But, how can we purchase and use natural chia seeds in our day to day? Here we have a simple breakfast that uses chia seeds to benefit from its properties throughout the rest of the day.

You will need the following ingredients:

  • half a cup of oats,
  • half a cup of skimmed milk,
  • two spoonfuls of chia seeds
  • a piece of fruit, choose one you like.

Breakfast with chia seeds

Take a bowl or a dish and mix the milk with the chia seeds and natural oats. Let it settle for a while (if you do this the night before, even better) in order to soak the oats and chia seeds. Then cut the fruit and add it to the mix. This breakfast is an excellent way of getting all the nutrients that you need to get through the day and it is also quite satiating!

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