Chia seeds are among the most ancient superfoods wordwide. Don’t think that their miraculous properties were discovered lately. It was used by the Aztecs since 3500 b.C. Just because they offer sustained energy to the body, Chia seeds formed the staple food of the Aztec army. Therefore they are often being used today by athletes and particularly distance runners.
The flowering plant, from which the seed come from, belongs to the mint family and grows mainly in Mexico and Guatemala, but it is cultivated in many countries of South America and Australia as well. The seeds, as you can see in the photo, are very small and black or white. The difference in the color of the seed does not affect their properties, it just depends on the soil in which the plant is grown . They have no taste and they do not alter the taste of your food. They can be eaten raw, whole or ground, or added to your food. They may be added to yoghurt, juices or smoothies, desserts, salads, bread , etc.
Let us now look at the nutritional value of Chia seeds. Note that the daily dose is fixed at 2 teaspoons (25gr. seeds) , although this is by no means exhaustive , as this is a natural product . The 2 teaspoons contain :
- 7 grams of fiber
- 4 grams of protein (plant protein , ideal for vegetarians. 23 % of each seed consists of protein)
- Calcium ( 5x the content of milk )
- Potassium ( 2-fold the content of bananas )
- 5 grams of Omega 3 ( reduces inflammation , reduces bad cholesterol and improves brain function and mood )
- Omega 6 , of sufficient quantity
- All the B vitamins , but above all, B2 , B3
- Iron ( 3-fold content of spinach )
- Magnesium ( 15 times the content of broccoli )
- High in phosphorus and manganese
The glycemic index of Chia seed is very low, so the blood sugar remains low, thereby reducing the desire for foods high in sugar. This, combined with fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates contained in Chia seeds slow down the digestion, which results to a feeling of fullness for longer and therefore the consumtion of less calories .
The chia seeds are also rich in soluble and insoluble fiber.It is proven that soluble fiber contribute to lower cholesterol . When mixed with water, the soluble fiber in chia seed form a gel type , which can be used as a thickener in cooking . If you put a teaspoon of seeds in a glass of water and leave them for about 30 minutes, you will see that the glass contains a jelly. This is what is also happening in the stomach when you eat the seeds. This acts as a barrier between carbohydrates and enzymes that are destined to tear them apart ,in order to be converted into sugars.
The ability of Chia seeds to retain water in the body offers us the ability to maintain the levels of fluids, to stay hydrated and to maintain an electrolytic balance. The slow and complete digestion that is being offeried by the seeds in our bodies is important to people with digestive disorders, who have difficulties to eat raw plant foods , people with spastic colitis and bowel problems . It also contains no gluten.
Finally, it contains large amounts of antioxidants, which combat damage from harmful, free radicals . They help to detoxify the body and prevent premature aging.
As in any case, same goes for the Chia seeds, if you suffer from any medical condition you should consult your physician before you include them in your diet regularly .
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