The Mighty Chia Seeds
So are you like me wondering if all this hype around chia seeds been a super food really is true. Are you sick of after breakfast getting that one seed stuck in between you teeth out before it expands more and really gets stuck and you need to read a few good reasons to continue your daily intake. My dentist told me she when doing a clean always finds chia seeds stuck in people’s teeth so now I always make sure I floss after eating them!
Chia seeds have been written about for years. In the language of Mayan Chia means strength. In fact one of the most famous books written on long distance running called ‘Born to Run’ (even if you don’t run it’s a great read) actually discusses an isolated tribe of Tarahumara Indians in Mexico’s Coppers Canyon the best long distance runners in the world, who with only eating a few handfuls of chia seeds have been able to run super fast literally for hours upon hours in the jungle. Carrying a small pouch of seeds for top up of energy if required. No energy gels, no sugar filled artificially coloured sports drinks… Well having run a few marathons I can’t see myself unfortunately being able to make it to the finish line on only chia seeds! But of course these people have many generations of runners who have bodies that have adapted to the chia seed and obviously covert its nutritional power into a super good for them. But again what about us mere mortals?
So where did this seed originate and how does the humble chia seed earn the title super food?
Chia seeds are harvested from a plant named Salvia Hispanica. Interestingly it is a member of the mint family, growing wild in Central America.
They have been branded as a superfood ( really any food taken in its natural unprocessed consumed as Mother Nature intended is a super food!) because of the extremely high level of omega 3- fatty acids and antioxidants. A bonus of chia seeds over say flax seed is it does not go rancid as quickly and chia seeds bioavailability ( the actual amount of the chia seeds nutritional content that enters the body’s circulation and is able to have an active effect). The bioavailability of a food or supplement or medicine is very important as if you have poor gut health or circulation, or the thing ingested is easily destroyed in the body by for example acid then even if you take a good amount you have no idea how much of the substance is actually working actively in the body.
Chia seeds are a great source of dietary fibre, but consumption of them requires you to ensure you are well hydrated. The seeds contain some protein, some omega -6 fatty acids and some trace minerals such as zinc and vitamins including vitamin A and E.
You may have noticed different coloured chia seeds, that being black and white. Really there is no difference in their nutritional status at all. It is said black and white seeds are mature seeds other colors are immature seeds or not good quality. So important to buy organic no GMO seeds. The taste of chia seeds when eaten dry resembles that of a poppy seed, soaking makes the seeds so much fuller and a slightly sweeter taste. As you would have seen if you have add water or other liquid to chia seeds they rapidly become more dense and soak up all the water. This is great but you should probably slowly increase the amount you take each day , mix or drink with lots of water to ensure if you have some constriction issues in your bowel you don’t block yourself up with ever expanding chia seeds! Go online and see how many people have poured chia seeds down the sink turned on the tap and within a few minutes.. Well let’s just say an expensive plumbers bill will need to be paid!!
So what is this super seed useful for in the body?
All those wonderful antioxidants help us not age perhaps as fast ( hoping this one proves to be true!). Antioxidants protect us from the free radicals in our body lurking around destroying muscle, causing inflammation so anything to slow this process down is a good idea. The Indian tribesman often live to an old age so perhaps while all that running causes free radical production maybe it’s negated by their chia seed intake?
Antioxidants protect our heart and brain both important organs now and as we age. It is reported that blood pressure can normalize, cholesterol levels may return to within normal range through consumption of these seeds.
Other reported good health outcomes are lowering or normalizing blood glucose levels in diabetics.
Digestive health can be promoted by chia seeds as they provide fibre, which promotes regular bowel movement people report they feel fuller quicker and longer after chia seeds so can in some individuals perhaps promote good weight management.
When mixed with water chia seeds form a gel like substance due to the insoluble fibre content. This helps gut health as the substance can act as a prebiotic supporting the growth of probiotics in the gut. Chia seeds are said to boost your energy and metabolism again great as we age and now as we live our busy lives.
There are some good studies out there showing the possible and probable benefits of chia seeds and more studies each day are been done, but it is very hard to isolate just one factor ( i.e. chia seeds) in these studies as been the one thing to change health outcomes as we are all different in many ways. I always think a balanced approach is best.
I take chia seed daily and add it to lots of things when preparing a meal. For example if I don’t want to use eggs I use chia seeds as my rising agent. But I also exercise, I take other supplements, I have colon therapy and I watch what I eat and try to incorporate meditation yoga daily. I love chia seeds and they are super but I would prefer to use lots of different things daily to promote my sense of wellbeing.
So pour chia seeds into your green smoothie, drink and be grateful a little seed all the way from Mexico is giving its life to make yours better!