Chia seeds have attained unprecedented attention is the last few years and have become a popular superfood that is both easily available and affordable. My tryst with chia seeds began a couple of months back and like always I did a thorough research on its benefits, drawbacks (if any) and usage, before including it in my nutrition.
The nutrient-dense chia seeds originally belong to Mexico where they were highly valued for their medicinal properties and nutritional value. In ancient times the Aztec warriors consumed chia seeds to give them energy and endurance. In fact, there is a saying that one spoonful of chia seeds could keep the warriors full for a day and give them strength to cover long distances on foot during the war.
Chia seeds are a rich source of fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins A, B, E and D and minerals like calcium, zinc, manganese, phosphorous and potassium. Chia seeds also contain essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid; mucin and strontium. One ounce (28 grams/roughly 2.5 tablespoons) of chia seeds contains:
- 137 calories
- 12.3 grams carbohydrates
- 4.4 grams protein
- 8.6 grams fat
- 10.6 grams fiber
- 0.6 mg manganese
- 265 mg phosphorus
- 177 mg calcium
- 1 mg zinc
- 0.1 mg copper
- 44.8 mg potassium
Benefits of Chia Seeds
- Antioxidant properties promote healthy skin repair and reduce signs of premature aging of the skin.
- Its high fiber content improves the digestive system, bowel movement, and aids the growth of probiotics in the gut.
- It acts as an appetite suppressor because the high fiber helps reach satiation sooner. It also absorbs a considerable amount of water and expands in the stomach, almost immediately, when eaten.
- Chia seeds help reverse inflammation, regulate cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
- Strengthens bones and joints.
- Since raw chia seeds can absorb up to 27-30 times their own weight in water, consuming them helps keep the body hydrated for longer and improves absorption of electrolytes.
- The alpha lipoic acid (ALA) in chia seed helps fights breast and Cervical cancer.
- Improves metabolism helps reduce visceral adipose tissue, commonly known as belly fat.
- Slows the digestive process and absorption of sugar, thereby minimizing sugar cravings.
- Helps reverse diabetes and stabilize blood sugar.
Ways to include chia seeds in your diet
There are numerous ways to include chia in your daily nutrition. You just have to get innovative and keep trying things until you get the one way that suits your taste buds and time at hand.
- Sprinkle on cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, or smoothies
- Add to baked items like bread, cookies, and muffins.
- It can be used as an egg substitute for baking. Mix 1 tablespoon chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water, then let them sit for a few minutes. Use instead of eggs.
- I normally soak 3 tbs chia seeds in a cup of ware and let it sit overnight. In the morning I add 100 gms curd and stevia.
- To make a green chia smoothie, blend 2 cups blanched spinach, 1.5 cups water 2 tbs chia seeds and a fruit of your choice.
- You can also add a scoop of Whey to the soaked chia seeks to make a power punch protein-fiber cocktail.
- Add heavy whipping cream to soaked chia seeds and top with cocoa and cinnamon.
How much chia seeds can one consume?
Though well tolerated in most cases, it is advisable to begin with 20 gms chia seeds in a day. Once your is accustomed to the seeds you may increase to a max of 30-40 gms per day. Well, if you consume too much chia seeds or if you don’t soak them with enough liquid the seeds will absorb liquid from your body instead dehydrating you.
Since chia seeds absorb up to 30 times their weight in water, it is imperative to soak them for at least 30-60 minutes before consuming. If eaten without soaking they could swell and block the food pipe and cause choking. Also, it is important to keep in mind that you must increase your water intake through the day to remain hydrated.
The brand I buy: Berries and Nuts Raw Chia Seeds
I usually purchase 1kg Berries and Nuts Raw Chia Seeds (combo of 4, 250 gm air sealed packs) from Amazon for approx INR 760. This is enough to last at least three months. Earlier I got Bagrry’s Chia Seeds seeds from Grofers but I find Berries and Nuts to be a superior brand. The packaging is good and delivery fast.
Just soak the seeds well, and soak in its goodness.
So, go ahead and get the little magic pellets!