There’s no better way to describe chia seeds!
Let’s dig in this seed, commonly known as superfood, but it’s in fact another nutritious seed, yet very, very very brilliant one! (Very)
Chia, which used to be the major food crop of the indigenous peoples of Mexico (Aztecs) and Guatemala, is now widely cultivated and commercialized for its (omega) ω-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) content and antioxidant properties. This southern American seed, called “the runners seed” is in fact a powerful weapon that keeps you hydrated for long, as it absorbs 12 times its size in water!
Why should we eat Chia?
chia content per 100 gr , % of daily value
fiber 136 %
Calcium 64 %
magnesium 88 %
iron 44 %
protein 43 %
Polyunsaturated fats 24 gr
Evidence suggests that consuming ground chia seeds, rather than whole seeds, allows significantly more ALA to reach the bloodstream.
But let’s see what all this omega-3 & omega-6 fuss is about.
Fatty acids are essential for human metabolism!!
Fatty acids represent a substantial part of lipids in human body and are important sources of energy. They are either saturated or unsaturated. Two main polyunsaturated fatty acids essential in the diet are linoleic (or omega-6) fatty acid and alpha-linolenic (or omega-3) acid which are found mostly in plant oils. It is used in the biosynthesis of prostaglandins and cell membranes. They are called essential because we cannot synthesize them! We have to eat them.
Foods high in ALA with decreasing order include
fish roe (caviar)
Now, what are they good for exactly?
Recently, fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have been associated with fetal development, cardiovascular function, and Alzheimer’s disease. Maternal ingestion of adequate quantities of fish (defined in many studies as at least 340 g of oily fish each week) has been associated with better childhood IQ scores!
beneficial anti-inflammatory effect of n-3 fatty acids: Consumption of long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids decreases the amount of arachidonic acid in cell membranes. Thus, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids decrease production of n-6 which take part in inflammatory cascades.
Coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cancer, depression schizophrenia, and collagen vascular diseases are low-grade systemic inflammatory conditions that benefit from increased intake of essential fatty acids.
Therapeutic effects of chia:
control of diabetes,
vision and immune improver is scientifically established.
But what about those not eating fish?
Are plant derived omega-3 FA a sustainable plant source?
Stearidonic acid (SDA) is a metabolic precursor of EPA that can be provided by SDA-enhanced soybean oil. Such a product can provide a sustainable source of (n-3) fatty acids that does not endanger fish stocks. Therefore, this is a sustainable and dependable vegan option.
Chia seed is a powerful antioxidant,
protects the liver, anti-ageing and anti-carcinogenic.
As a great source of dietary fibre it is beneficial for the digestive system and controls diabetes mellitus.
It is a gluten free high protein source and bad cholesterol (LDL) lowering agent.
The Promising Future of Chia, Salvia hispanica L.
Norlaily Mohd Ali, Swee Keong Yeap, […], and Soon Guan Tan Journal of Biomedicine & Biotechnology.by NM Ali – 2012
Dietary chia seed (Salvia hispanica L.) rich in alpha-linolenic acid improves adiposity and normalises hypertriacylglycerolaemia and insulin resistance in dyslipaemic rats.
Chicco AG, et al. Br J Nutr. 2009.
Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Review article. Swanson D, et al. Adv Nutr. 2012.
The FDA’s new advice on fish: it’s complicated.
Wenstrom KD. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014.
Stearidonic acid-enhanced soybean oil: a plant-based source of (n-3) fatty acids for foods.
Review article. Harris WS. J Nutr. 2012.