Chia Seeds – Nutritional Profile
Chia Seeds are one of a small group of foods given the label “super food” as more and more of their health giving properties are understood. They are the richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids outside of oily fish such as salmon and mackerel. One single 25g portion of Chia seeds contains 64% of the recommended daily allowance for Omega-3 fatty acids. They contain an especially good source of fibre and a 90 calorie portion can provide 82% of the recommended daily allowance of fibre which is probably the most significant nutritional element. The fibre present is both soluble and insoluble and when they are exposed to water the soluble fibre in the husk turns into a colloidal gel. They contain a high level of protein which is rare for plant based foodstuffs.
Chia Seeds – Health Benefits
Chia seeds make a fantastic aid to dieting. When exposed to water their skin expands and creates a colloidal gel like substance which speeds up the feeling of being satiated, thus leading to fewer calories being eaten.
For those suffering from type 2 diabetes, one of the most significant health risks for the western world, the combination of soluble and insoluble fibres helps to slow down the bodies efforts to convert starch into sugars providing and so minimising the impact of excess sugar in the blood stream. Chia gives a slow, general uptake of sugar rather than peaks and troughs associated with refined sugars and over time this will result in less kidney and cardio vascular problems .
Diverticulitis is an increasingly common complaint due to the increasing amount of highly refined flour we are consuming. Soluble and insoluble fibre are best way of preventing the condition by ensuring the colon is hydrated at all times ensuring the correct progress of food and optimum uptake of nutrient.
The gel like substance formed when the seed absorbs moisture stops bad cholesterol entering the blood stream and allows good cholesterol through thus providing significant cardio vascular benefit.
Antioxidants are an important part of diet. Those found in Chia Seeds are perfect for prevention of inflammation and for fighting caner causing free radicals.
Chia are a popular foodstuff with athletes because they can asorb up to 12 times their own weight in water when forming a gel. The gel forming process means greater water retention and fewer issues with hydration for athletes during times of peak performance.
They are also known to have an effect o blood pressure. They will influence your blood pressure downwards which is good news for those with high blood pressure but those with low should be careful when eating them.
Chia Seeds – Product History
Chia seeds are harvested from the Salvia Hispanica plant are orginally native to southern Mexico and parts of Guatemala.
They have a histroy of being cultivated as far back as Aztec times. Evidence shows that Chia was as significant to Aztecs as maize. Aztec warriors used to take seeds soaked in water for their hydration properties when going on long war expeditions into mountains.
The small brown, white and grey seeds are consumed, mainly in Mexico and the south western parts of the United States but they are beginning to become more widely known outside of these areas.
Commercial crops are exclusively in Central America with addition of Australia. Guatemala, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia and Mexico are the largest producers of Chia Seeds and their inclusion in European Union recognised foodstuffs will see an increase in demand.
The seeds are currently marketed as Chia Seeds but other trademark product names do exist.