Chia Seeds, Tiny Seeds With Huge Health Potential

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Chia is a super nutrition packed edible seed (a member of the mint family called Salvia Hispanica) originated from southern Mexico. It has been ranked as one of the best superfood available on Earth and is rapidly becoming popular among health conscious people all around the world.


Chia seeds provide calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, zinc, and even the trace mineral, boron!

Some of its key benefits, which are most relevant in our day-to-day life, are listed here. This article will point out how Chia seeds can help those suffering from diseases related to the heart (atherosclerosis, pulmonary disorders), depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, insomnia, stress, lethargy, osteoporosis and constipation. Besides the diseases listed above, Chia seeds have also been observed to be beneficial in preventing colon cancer.

Is it not amazing that these small seeds can help in the management of so many diseases and conditions? If anyone is suffering from any of the diseases listed in the above, why not give the seeds a try to experience the effectiveness for yourself?

I have personally experimented the benefits of Chia seeds myself with my family and friends. From my observation those who consumed the seeds feel energetic almost instantly. An insomniac whom I have recommended the seeds to also reported of gaining deeper sleep within days.

Chia seeds possess the unique property of being extremely water-absorbent. They can absorb up to 10 times its weight. This property alone can be exploited to benefit our physical health.

Mixing a tablespoon of Chia seeds in a glass of water and then leave it for 30 minutes will result in the formation of a gel-like solution due to its soluble fibre content. Theoretically, this same gel-like solution would also be formed in our stomachs when we consume Chia seeds. Therefore, the gel formed may slow the conversion of carbohydrates from food into sugar.

Bon apetite, diabetics! You have just discovered a highly-nutritious jelly delicacy. Diabetics can adopt Chia seeds into their diet, which will also allow them to feel energetic far longer than before thanks to this slower conversion of carbohydrates into sugar (Chia seeds have an extremely low glycemic index of 1). Not only is the sugar level properly regulated, one also experiences the feeling of 'fullness' from consuming Chia seeds, which helps reduce food cravings and fake hunger. As a result, the intake of Chia seeds can successfully help control sugar cravings, which in turn controls blood sugar. Diabetics who suffer from constipation due to lack of fibre were also observed to be alleviated from the condition merely by consuming Chia seeds.



All day long energisation!
The above does not imply that Chia seeds are a diabetics-only food! Thanks to slower conversion of sugars in the body, higher endurance level is created. People generally feel energetic for a longer duration of time after adopting Chia seeds into their daily diet.


Dehydration no more!
Chia seeds are also known for its magnificent property of retaining water. Did you know that Chia seeds absorb water up to 50 times its own weight? This contributes to a higher hydration level in the body leading to better electrolyte balance and reduction of fatigue caused by dehydration. Because of this property, many people practice the habit of placing Chia seeds in their water to take on trips to make sure that the body is properly hydrated during their journey.


Lose weight easily
Thanks to the 11 grams of fibre per ounce of Chia seeds (about 41% of the recommended daily value in just one serving!), those intending to lose weight can benefit from the regular consumption of Chia seeds so that the feeling of 'fullness' can prevent food cravings.


Prevention of heart diseases & lowers cholestrol
Its high quantity of essential Omega-3 & Omega-6 fatty acid (unsaturated fatty acids) are vital for long term improvement of cardiovascular health by preventing artherosclerosis and lowering cholesterol levels. Chia seeds also has beneficial long-chain triglycerides (LCT) in the appropriate amount to reduce cholestrol on arterial walls. The essential fatty acids in the seeds can also reduce blood pressure, thereby aiding in the management of hypertension.


Beating depression and fights Alzheimer's
Interestingly, Omega-3 fatty acids also play a role in beating depression! Chia seeds have tryptophan, an amino acid required by the body to create serotonin, which not only helps prevent depression but also induces a happy mood!

Its omega-3 fatty acids in combination with other brain-friendly natural food items have also been reported to keep the arteries of the brain clear of plaque, thereby making it useful in fighting the Alzheimer’s disease.


Insomnia away - Sleep like a baby
Tryptophan promotes sleepiness as they contain sleep-inducing amino acid that increases melatonin and serotonin levels. This promotes deeper quality sleep. A mere 2 ounces of Chia seeds can help one to sleep well provided that they are taken at least 3 hours before bedtime.


Prevent osteoporosis
Chia seeds are a rich source of Calcium (3 to 6 times more Calcium than milk per serving!). It also contains the important trace mineral, boron, which acts as a catalyst for the absorption and utilisation of Calcium by the body. This makes Chia seeds a useful food item for the prevention of osteoporosis so that strong bones are built, minimising the potential of future injuries. The seeds also contain unsaturated fatty acids, which when combined with Vitamin D makes Calcium available to the tissue in the body.


Management of stress dietetically
Giving twice the amount of potassium of bananas, Chia seeds are also effective in relieving stress. Our body's supply of potassium is quickly depleted during stress leading to potassium deficiency that can cause serious health problems!


Better absorption of vitamins
Chia seeds contain essential oils that our body needs to aid in emulsification and absorption of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.


Antioxidants for health and beauty
These seeds also contain antioxidants that are sufficient to allow it to be stored at room temperature for up to a year without the oils within it becoming rancid! The same antioxidants fight against free radicals and aid one to become younger from inside out!


Excellent source of protein
Twenty-percent of Chia seed is protein in nature. It is interesting to note that this value is higher than that found in most of other nutritional seeds. It contains all the essential amino acids in the right proportions and is therefore beneficial to vegetarians or those on limited protein-based diets.


Boost digestive health
Bot of its soluble fibre (which forms the outer gel) and insoluble fibre boost the digestive system. Theinsoluble fibre helps cleanse the intestinal tract, whereas the soluble fibre acts as a prebiotic and to maintain good bacteria in the system. Research has shown that the higher intake of fibre corresponds to the lowering of diseases related to the digestive system, which even includes colon cancer.


Bodybuilding, anyone?
Chia seeds' high protein content can aid in building lean muscle mass.


Comparison of Nutrition Chart



Side effects of Chia seeds?
Like all other nutritional food items, Chia seeds are no exception when it comes to side effects. Precautions in consuming Chia seeds must also therefore be taken.

Due to its water retention properties, some people feel that they are holding more water than usual. Although beneficial in some ways as already detailed in the above, the over-consumption of Chia seeds at one time can result in the feeling of 'heaviness' and thereby potentially disrupting one's daily life activities.

Patients who are on blood-thinning medication such as Warfarin should also exclude these seeds from their diet as there is an increased risk of bleeding.

As already explained before, Chia seeds are effective in lowering one's blood pressure. However, if you are on blood pressure medication, be very careful that your intake of Chia seeds does not lower your blood pressure to a dangerous level.

Those maintaining a diet rich with Vitamin B-17 should also be cautious when consuming these seeds as they too are a rich source for that Vitamin. This is to make sure that your body system is not overloaded with phytonutrients.



Related Articles:
So You Thought Paracetamol Was Safe? Think Again...
Negative Ions for Positive Health
Turmeric: One of Nature's Most Powerful Healer
Why Be Vegetarian?



Authors: Silambarasu Karuppiah & Genevieve Tan Shu Thung

Copyright © 2012 Sandhya Maarga Holistic Living Resources
Holistic Living Annex (Volume 1, Issue 5 - JUNE 2012 Edn)

5 Responses for “ Chia Seeds, Tiny Seeds With Huge Health Potential”

  1. Cindy says:

    I bought a pack of Chia seeds in an organic shop today and added in my smoothie. It is nice to drink..

     
  2. Miguel says:

    Thank you for this information. When I went to buy them i found that there are dark and white seeds.
    Do you know which ones are better for depression?

    THanks a lot

     
  3. @Miguel: We must also take into account 'where' the Chia seeds were obtained from. However, the differences in nutritional value for black and white Chia seeds isn't that great. Either one will do fine, though white chia seeds are considered more rare and are generally more expensive than black chia seeds. Enjoy your chia.

     
  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the great info. ...Do you know if they will help prevent water retention due to congestive heart failure? I was think of starting with a small amount and little water to get them down.

     
  5. Dear Anonymous,

    As written in the above article, Chia seeds have 'water retention properties'. Therefore, it is unlikely that it will help prevent water retention. Because of this & like all other alternative healing methods, if you are suffering from congestive heart failure, we would advise you to consult with your doctor before starting on your Chia seeds.

    We hope that helped. Have a nice day!

     

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