Chia or Salvia hispanica is a flowering plant species belonging to the mint family named Lamiaceae. The species is generally found in southern and central Guatemala and Mexico. The renowned Codex Mendoza dating back to the 16th century established that the plant was grown during the pre-Columbian times by the Aztecs. The crop is commercially cultivated for its seeds, a nutrient-rich food that contains a good quantity of omega-3 fatty acids. 25 to 30 percent oil can be extracted from the seeds that include α-linolenic acid. Cha seeds are used in the Latin American countries of Bolivia, Paraguay, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Guatemala as a good source of food and for making drinks.
Benefits of chia seeds
• Chia seeds are a good source of antioxidants. The antioxidants are instrumental in protecting the seeds’ sensitive fats from becoming stale. These chemicals play a huge role in stopping the manufacture of free radicals that has the potential to damage cells and hasten ageing.
• Most of the carbohydrates present in the chia seeds are fibres that can’t be digested by the human body. Consequently, the consumption of chia seeds doesn’t contribute to the enhancement of blood sugar levels. The ingestion of chia seeds helps in getting the feeling of fullness without the consumption of a large amount of calories. Thus, it can control the gaining of body weight.
• Chia seeds also contain a good amount of protein and amino acids. Consumption of protein reduces the feeling of appetite and helps the body in developing the muscles and tissues. Since the seeds contain good amounts of proteins, fibres and Omega 3s, it could improve the process of metabolism in the body.
• Chia seeds contain good amounts of bone nutrients including calcium, magnesium, phosphor, and protein. The calcium content is especially high and is markedly higher than many of the dairy products. Thus, it could play a significant role in preventing the bone disorders for women.
• Legends suggest that the Mayans and the Aztecs used chia seeds to boost their performances. It has been established that the seeds play a significant role in enhancing stamina during exercising. In fact, the seeds could be as good as any sports drinks.
Chia seeds are loved by many people throughout the world, and have been for thousands of years. The health benefits brought from the seeds of Salvia hispanica have long been suspected, but modern developments have now shown the exact reasons why these seeds are quite so good for people.
Chia seeds are crammed full of many vital substances, but perhaps the most significant are thiamine and niacin, both of which fall into the category of Vitamin B. What’s more, riboflavin and folate (also both B vitamins) are also found in abundance in every serving of chia seeds. But why is this important for a person’s health? Well, the answer is a multi-faceted one, as B vitamins have many benefits, including:
• Prevention of cardiovascular disease
• Strengthening of bones
• Good for eye-sight
• Boosting energy
• Increasing mental sharpness
It’s not just Vitamin B that’s found in chia seeds though, as those consuming them will also be eating a great source of Omega-3 – a substance that helps massively with overall brain health. And then there’s the large amount of fibre, which is essential for keeping good digestive health.
There’s also a large amount of different minerals found with chia seeds, all of which are vital to the health of an individual. The large amounts of calcium will contribute towards healthy bones and teeth; manganese will also provide a route to healthier bones; and phosphorus will help the body to repair itself effectively. There’s also zinc, magnesium and iron, all of which have their own health benefits too.
There can also be some more specific health benefits of chia seeds too. For example, those with diabetes might find chia seeds to be very useful, as they are reputed to slow down digestion, therefore stabilising blood sugar levels. Those with mental health problems, such as stress and depression, might also find chia seeds’ ability to regulate sleep patterns and mood to be very helpful indeed.
Finally, it should also be mentioned that chia seeds have a large amount of protein in them – a substance that most people usually get by eating meat. For vegetarians, this means that chia seeds are a great choice – just 50g has nearly 20% of the recommended daily intake of protein for the average person.