Most wellness doctors agree that Chia is one of nature’s true superfoods. It delivers maximum nutrients with minimum calories and promotes digestion, energy and detoxification of the body. Originally grown in Mexico, the seeds were highly valued for their medicinal properties and nutritional value. In fact, they we
re even used as currency!
Aztec warriors ate chia seeds to give them high energy and endurance. They said just 1 spoonful of chia could sustain them for 24 hours. Chia means “strength” in the Mayan language, and they were known as “runners food” because runners and warriors would use them as fuel while running long distances or during battle.
A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning concluded that consuming chia seeds enhanced exercise performance for workouts that lasted 90 minutes the same way a sugar-laden sports drink would, but without all the sugar.
In the study, half of the athletes drank 100 percent Gatorade, while the others consumed half Gatorade and half chia drink. Their runners time were matched and the half-chia group consumed far less sugar.
There are several reasons why Chia can improve your fat burning potential and increase endurance. The nutritional profile of chia ranks it high in foods rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Chia contains essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid, mucin, strontium, 20% protein, Vitamins A, B, E, and D, and minerals including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, iron, iodine, copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese, niacin, thiamine, and anti-oxidants.
Fiber for Fat Loss and Improved Digestion
Chia is super-high in fiber, providing nearly 11 grams per ounce. One serving can provide the recommended fiber intake for the day, according to the American Dietetic Association. Fiber is essential for your body’s ability to balance insulin levels. According to the National Institute of Health, seeds like flax and chia can be a natural blood sugar balancer due to it’s high fiber content and healthy fats.
One of the characteristics that make chia so unique is that it can absorb up to 10X its own weight in water. Because of this, chia seeds can prolong hydration and improve nutrient absorption of electrolytes. This also slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer reducing sugar cravings.
When consumed, chia seeds create a gelatin-like substance in the stomach. This gel-forming action is due to the soluble fiber in chia seeds and it can work as a prebiotic supporting the growth of probiotics in the gut.
More Omega’s than Salmon
Chia seeds are high in linoleic, a fatty acid which helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. For such a tiny seed, chia is quite high in healthy fats boasting more Omega-3 fatty acids than salmon.
Typically nuts and seeds with a high fat content have a short shelf life before they turn rancid, but chia seeds are so rich in antioxidants they can be kept in storage for up to four years without deterioration.
Packed with Protein and Nutrients
Chia seeds also rank among the top plant based sources of protein. This is another reason this super seed is great to consume for those trying to put on lean m
uscle, burn fat, and balance blood sugar levels.
Chia seeds pack a powerful antioxidant punch to help replace some of those lost nutrients. They’re high in essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, iron and niacin.
According to a study by Natural Standard Research Collaboration, chia seeds have shown possible effectiveness for allergies, angina, athletic performance enhancement, cancer, coronary heart disease (CHD), heart attack, hormonal/endocrine disorders, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, stroke, and vasodilatation. Some evidence also suggests possible anticoagulant, antioxidant, and antiviral effects.
Flaxseed is a similar superfood, rich in omega-3 and antioxidants. A study done at Duke University suggests that flaxseeds may stunt tumor growth. Flax is also high in fiber and low in carbs, making it great for dieters who want to feel full for longer. High in B vitamins, magne
sium and manganese, these tiny seeds counter inflammation, a key contributor to arthritis, joint pain and chronic disease.
Incorporating Chia in Your Diet
Chia is quite versatile. The seeds can be eaten raw, soaked in water to form a gel or sprouted like alfalfa sprouts. When eaten raw they have a nutlike flavor and are a great addition to your morning superfood shake, or tossed on a salad. Because of their ability to absorb liquid they are a great way to thicken up soups or a smoothie.
Chia is high in fiber so start out with a small amount and be sure to drink plenty of water. Look for sprouted chia, when this superseed is sprouted it unlocks even more of the nutrients and improves it’s digestibility. The recommended daily serving is 1 – 3 tablespoons of dry seeds, start out slow and give your body time to adjust to the increased fiber intake.
Now go enjoy the benefits of chia and other superseeds!
Illian, T.G., Casey, J.C., and Bishop, P.A. (2011). Omega 3 chia seed loading as a means of carbohydrate loading. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25, 1, 61–65
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Nutritional Science Research Institute. Chia (Salvia hispanica L) Research. http://www.nsrinews.com/nsriChia_research.html, Retrieved September 4 2013.
Ulbricht C, Chao W, Nummy K, Rusie E, Tanguay-Colucci S, Iannuzzi CM, Plammoottil JB, Varghese M, Weissner W. Chia (Salvia hispanica): a systematic review by the natural standard research collaboration. Reviews of recent clinical trials. 2009 4(3): 168-74
Division of Cancer Prevention and Population of Sciences, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Flaxseed supplementation (not dietary fat restriction) reduces prostate cancer proliferation rates in men presurgery. Cancer Epidemiology Prevention. 2008 17(12): 3577-87