Chia Seeds, a native to central Mexico is now considered as a super food and is widely consumed around the world. Thousands of years ago this highly nutritious seed with a nutty flavor was mainly used by Aztec soldiers as their staple food. Research on this seed proves that it improves the endurance levels and cures several modern ailments.
Some of the most common health benefits of Chia Seeds are
1) Controls Blood Sugar levels: Based on a study conducted by NSRI in 2007, consuming chia seeds (it has a low glycemic index) will result in gradual rise of blood sugar. A gradual rise (without a spike) in blood sugar level decreases the diabetes risk.
2) Anti-inflammatory effects: The high levels of unsaturated fatty acids in chia seed act anti-inflammatory agents. It is one of the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids and hence creates a healthy balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
3) Improves Hearth Health: These seeds have the ability to alleviate most of the factors responsible for heart diseases. Chia seeds control the levels of bad cholesterol, high BP and diabetes. The alpha linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) in these seeds prevent plaque build up in the blood vessels.
4) Improved Digestion: Around 34% of it is dietary fiber, and this fiber content is far higher than flaxseeds. The dietary fiber improves digestion and slows down the rate of glucose absorption. With a lower rate of absorption the insulin requirement is reduced. With high soluble fiber content, these seeds also prevent constipation and associated diseases.
In addition to these benefits chia seeds also have a great nutrition profile like high amount of calcium (3 oz of chia seeds provide you more calcium than 2 cups of milk or 4 cups of spinach). It is a known energy booster and is ideally suited for athletes and active people. It is a known appetite suppressant and can aid in weight loss by curbing hunger. Chia seeds contain tryptophan, an amino acid and the precursor to melatonin. Melatonin, promotes sleep and recovery. It decreases the bad cholesterol (LDL) and raises the good cholesterol (HDL) in the blood. It is also rich in anti-oxidants and hence can prevent certain kinds of cancer, the dietary fiber in these seeds also prevents colon cancer. Overall it is a true super-food.
Like any nutrition product, it is important to buy chia seeds from reputed vendors and suppliers. We highly recommend helsebixen.dk, one of the largest sellers of nutrition products in Denmark and Europe; they also provide high quality chia seeds.
Note: Though you can eat raw chia seeds, soaking them in water will result in a gel which you can add to various beverages and food. You can also replace eggs and fats in cakes with this gel without much difference in taste.