Thursday, July 7, 2022

The health benefits of chia seeds

These tiny black and white seeds, a current global superfood, chia seeds are now all the craze. Rich in nutrients like proteins,  fibre, calcium, and minerals like zinc and copper, they are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Sourced from the Salvia hispanica L plant, believed to be native to Central America. Here’s what happens when you combine chia seeds with water or any liquid. They absorb the liquid, absorbing upto twelve times their original size. The end result is a gelatinous and chewy mixture. 

Chia seeds has been part of our diet for centuries, our favourite falooda with sabza, most cooling for the body. Who knew that this treasure could be the worldwide craze it is nowadays is  and rightly so. With numerous health benefits, these seeds are recognized as a nutrient-dense, low calorie addition to healthy diets.


Did you know? 

Chia seeds are a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that cannot be made by the body. 

Health benefits of chia seeds —

1. Highly nutritious — Historically, civilizations used chia seeds in their diets, for medicinal purposes, religious rituals and cosmetics, because of their highly nutritious compounds. 


2. Loaded with antioxidants — Chia seeds are a great source of antioxidants. These antioxidants not only protect the sensitive fats in the chia seeds from spoiling but also benefit our health by neutralising reactive molecules or free radicals, which damage cell compounds if they build up in your body. These antioxidants have protective effects on your heart and liver and have anticancer properties. 


3. May help reduce high blood pressure — Chia seeds are packed with antioxidant properties and a compound called chlorogenic acid which helps reduce high blood pressure. 


4. May help reduce inflammation — The antioxidant known as caffeic acid is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. 


5. Benefits for heart health — Chia seeds are loaded with fibre and omega-3 fatty acids which are extremely beneficial and vital for your heart health.


6. Support for bone health — Chia seeds also play an important role in supporting strong and healthy bones. The calcium,  phosphorus and magnesium in chia seeds are important for bone health.


7. Blood sugar control — Consuming chia seeds help with blood sugar regulation,  due to its fibre content and other beneficial compounds. Diabetics often experience high blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, which are associated with an increased risk of several complications like heart disease. 


8. Potential skin benefits —The omega-3 fatty acids in chia seeds help relieve irritated skin and other skin conditions. Drinking water with chia seeds in it supports skin hydration. 

Chia seeds are super easy to incorporate into your diet

Due to their bland, neutral taste, you can add chia seeds to pretty much anything — 

  • They can be eaten raw, 
  • Soaked in juice or a liquid of your choice, 
  • Added to your breakfast food like cereal or oatmeal,
  • In desserts, 
  • As a snack, add to smoothies, and baked goods. 
  • Sprinkle them on top of yogurt, vegetables, or rice dishes as a garnish that doubles up as a nutrient booster. 
  • Chia seeds also work wonderfully as a binding agent 
  • A good substitute for eggs. 

Chia seeds water —

Chia water needs two ingredients; chia seeds and water. Chia seeds have many research-supported health benefits, so they can be a great addition to your diet. Chia water is full of nutrients, supports skin health, bone health and is an overall immunity booster.

What’s the best time to drink chia seed water? 

Since it is a cooling agent for the body, drinking chia seeds water in the afternoon can help beat the peak heat of the day and drinking it in the evening is an appetite inhibitor. It all depends on your personal preference. However, if you’re hungry, you can refuel your body with a glass of chia seed water followed by a nutrient-dense meal. This is beneficial in many many ways.

Can chia seeds help with weight loss?

Chia seeds have been spotlighted for their weight loss promotion  properties. They promote feelings of fullness due to its  incredible absorption capacity by absorbing water and gastric juices. Additionally, the soluble fibre in chia seeds helps slow the actual digestion of the seeds, keeping you fuller for longer and reduces your appetite. As a result, chia seeds  can help prevent hunger and reduce your overall energy intake, leading to weight loss. 


Downsides and considerations to take into account — 

It is important to remember that chia seeds is not a single all encompassing food. It can not take the place of a healthy and well-balanced diet. Be sure to drink a lot of water and stay hydrated while consuming chia seeds as its high absorptive quality, could potentially increase your risk of constipation if consumed it in large quantities. 

Conclusion —

Chia seed water is an emerging trend in the culinary and nutrition industry. Thanks to social media we are made aware of how super this superfood really is. Chia seeds are a highly versatile ingredient with no distinct flavour, hence can be added to a host of dishes to give it a nutrition boost and may support heart health, skin health, and inflammation . Be it breakfast, lunch, dinner or an in between snack, adding chia seeds makes them healthy. 

Just incorporate it into your diet whenever possible to enhance overall health.

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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