Chia seeds are famous for their exceptional nutritional values and health benefits. Chia seeds have more omega-3 fatty acids than the Atlantic salmon which is considered to be the best source of Omega-3. They are also more calcium-rich than milk.
Chia seeds are seeds of Spanish Salvia (Salvia hispanica L.) – a plant originating in Mexico and Guatemala. The health and nutritional value of chia seeds have been appreciated by the Nahua (Aztec) tribes in central Mexico for centuries. Chia seeds were, after beans and corn, the third most important crop for the Aztecs.
No wonder – they have more Omega-3 fatty acids than the Atlantic salmon. They are also more calcium-rich than milk and contain more iron than spinach.
Also, they are full of proteins, prevent the development of tumors, lower the blood pressure, regulate the digestion, soothe your nerves, and finally, strengthen bones.
Thanks to the ALA acid, i.e., alpha-linolenic acid, which is the quintessence of Omega-3 acids, Chia seeds lower the risk of developing breast cancer.
According to the research published in the Journal of Nutrition Research, chia seeds are the richest plant source of ALA – they contain 16% of ALA. It’s more than the flaxseed which is one of the best sources of alpha-linolenic acid.
As American scientists argue in the “Journal of Molecular Biochemistry“,”ALA acid induces apoptosis, or cell death, of certain cell lines responsible for the development of breast and cervical cancer without damaging healthy cells.
As a result, they confirmed the earlier results of the similar study, published in the European Journal of Cancer in 2000, which shows that increasing the concentration of ALA in the blood was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.
Also, chia seeds, in addition to alpha-linolenic acid, are an excellent source of fiber and zinc – substances that also prevent the development of cancer and support the fight against cancer.
However, studies conducted on Spanish men suggest that ALA acid (regardless of its origin – plant or animal) increases the risk of developing prostate cancer.
However, American researchers who published their research in 2009 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition are reassuring that even if alpha-linolenic acid increases the likelihood of developing this cancer, it does little.
As we said before, chia seeds have more Omega-3 fatty acids than the Atlantic salmon.
Of all the oils, chia seed oil is the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids, which make up 63% of it. For comparison – flaxseed oil contains 54% omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 acids support the brain – they facilitate learning, improve memory and concentration – that’s why they are recommended especially for students, and other people doing mental work. Also, they support the nervous system – they calm you down and can even help relieve the symptoms of depression.
In turn, in the elderly, they can prevent the development of dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease). Omega-3 fatty acids contained in chia seeds also support the functioning of eyes, and in seniors, they prevent the development of macular degeneration.
Also, omega-3 acids are essential during pregnancy. They have a positive impact not only on the health of the future mother but also are responsible for the proper development of the child.
The Omega-3 acids in chia seeds also have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. Together with fiber, that also can be found in Chia seeds, they lower the level of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and increase the concentration of “good” HDL cholesterol.
In this way, they prevent the formation of atherosclerosis and reduce the risk of numerous heart diseases, e.g., coronary heart disease.
Also, the seeds are rich in potassium, which is responsible for regulating blood pressure, and other elements that support the work of the heart, namely magnesium, calcium, and sodium.
In turn, research published in the journal “Diabetes Care” shows that chia seeds can help diabetic patients control the level of not only blood pressure, but also C-reactive protein – a marker of inflammation, whose high concentration correlates with the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke.
It has been proven that fiber not only prevents heart disease but also improves the digestive system – supports the digestive process and stimulates intestinal motility.
Chia seeds are the second, just after wheat bran (42 g / 100 g), the most valuable source of fiber.
Fiber regulates the rhythm of bowel movements, thus counteracting constipation, and supports the development of good bacterial flora. Also, it reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that at least 35 grams of fiber should be found in the daily diet. In 100 g of chia seeds, there is as much as 34.4 g of dietary fiber. Therefore they cover almost 100% of your daily fiber requirement.
However, you have any gastrointestinal diseases you shouldn’t eat chia seeds.
Many years of research have shown that a diet rich in fiber prevents many lifestyle diseases, including type 2 diabetes.
However, eating nutrients that are rich in fiber may also help prevent diabetics. A study published in 2009 in the British Journal of Nutrition found that chia seeds helped normalize insulin resistance in diabetic rats while reducing fat and cholesterol in the blood. The results of the research above published in the journal “Diabetes Care” are similar.
Chia seeds, therefore, act like bran and other whole grain products, which have already been proven to have a positive effect on the health of diabetics.
Chia seeds, when combined with water, act like flaxseed – they swell. Therefore, they fill the stomach, and for a long time give you a feeling of fullness. Consequently – theoretically – you should eat less and lose a few kilos of weight.
The scientists of the Appalachian State University in North Carolina tried to confirm this thesis. According to one of them, David Nieman, after the 12-week experiment period, no changes in appetite and weight loss were noticed in the study participants (who ate up to 50 g of chia seeds per day).
Chia seeds are full of calcium – in 100 g there is as much as 631 mg of this strengthening bone element. It is more than twice as much as in a glass of milk (about 240 mg). Also, they are rich in phosphorus (860 mg / 100 g), which is also responsible for strong bones and teeth.