Chia seeds are a nutritious food with excellent nutritional properties.
The uses of chia seed have been known since the time of the Aztecs. Today, science has confirmed its many health benefits.
This article discusses chia seeds’ nutritional properties, uses, and benefits.
Chia seeds: What are they?
Chia is a plant about 1-2 m with small white or purple flowers. The black grains are extracted from its flowers, known as chia seeds.
Chia seeds or simply chia ( Hispanic sage ) are food derived from a plant belonging to the Labiatae family, a relative of mint, thyme, and rosemary.
The nutritional and medicinal properties of chia seeds have been confirmed by science, declaring it one of the superfoods by international organizations such as FAO.
The uses of chia seeds have their origin in Latin America, from the time of the Mayans and the Aztecs. Chia was used as a raw material to make medicinal oils and cosmetics.
Nutritional properties of chia seeds
Chia seeds have excellent nutritional properties. The most outstanding is its high content of Omega-3, fiber, and vegetable proteins.
The nutritional properties of chia seeds are:
- High in healthy fats
- Source of vegetable proteins
Chia seed proteins have a complete supply of essential amino acids. The content of lysine, methionine, and cysteine is among the highest in products of plant origin.
- It does not contain gluten.
Chia seeds are gluten-free. Therefore, food is allowed for people who are intolerant to gluten or follow a gluten-free diet by choice.
- The high content of antioxidants
Chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid are the most antioxidants in chia. However, it has also been found to contain flavonols myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol. Due to the presence of these compounds, one of the properties of chia seeds is to slow down the aging processes.
- Source of vegetable Omega-3
The Omega-3 content in chia seeds is one of the highest in plant-based foods, like its close relative: flax seeds. Chia seeds contain between 0.25 and 0.38 g of Omega-3 oil/seed.
- High fiber content
Chia seeds are food with fiber. What makes one of its nutritional properties is the decrease in the feeling of hunger. In addition, the consumption of chia regularly improves the digestion process.
Chia is a food rich in vitamins and minerals. One hundred grams of seeds provides 82% of the daily value for magnesium, 63% daily for calcium, and 42% of the iron needs.
Below you can see a table with the nutritional value of 100 grams of chia:
|Lutein + zeaxanine||651||µg|
Table of the nutritional value of chia seeds (5)
Are chia seeds good for lowering cholesterol?
One of the nutritional properties of chia seeds is their high content of vegetable Omega-3 and the presence of vegetable fiber. These two components help lower cholesterol.
Several investigations confirm that one of the benefits of consuming chia regularly is to reduce bad LDL cholesterol. (2.3)
Omega-3 DHA and EPA are molecules capable of regulating the metabolism of fats in the body. Fiber is an essential component in reducing triglycerides in the blood. Therefore one of the potential medicinal uses of chia seeds is as a treatment to balance the levels of bad/good cholesterol.
Chia seeds use – is tea good for a cough?
The ancient Aztecs believed that drinking chia tea could cure respiratory diseases and normalize digestion. It was thought that one of the uses of chia seeds was to cure prolonged diarrhea.
Currently, this is one property that the scientific community has not confirmed. So there are some of the uses that have been demystified. For coughs or respiratory diseases, sage tea has better properties than chia.
However, another use of the seeds is to make chia oil. This is one of the best oils that exist in nutritional properties. In addition, planting chia at home is easy, and the plant is a purple flower to be used for decorative purposes.
The uses of chia seeds are:
- To reduce bad cholesterol.
- As an egg substitute for vegans
- To make chia oil
- To make infusions (tea)
- As a decorative plant
Chia seeds history
Before chia seeds were marketed in supermarket chains, it was used by Mayans and Aztecs.
These civilizations ground the seeds and used them to prepare food, even chia flour. In addition, the Aztecs also used the sources to make a popular nutritious drink called “Chia Fresca” (or lemon water).
Chia seeds were a way of paying taxes, and they were a central part of religious ceremonies. The capital of the Aztec empire received chía annually from the conquered peoples. When going to combat, the warriors carried a bag of chia seeds with them.
After the Spanish colonization, chia was banned, and the plant was considered lost. It was only in the 1980s that it was discovered in remote areas of Paraguay, and in the early 1990s, crops were restored.
Today, due to the nutritional properties of chia seeds, it has generated a sales boom in most health food stores.
Chia vs. flax vs. amaranth
Chia seeds are a vegetable source of Omega-3; like flax, they are foods with a high vegetable protein content. The properties of chia that stand out against those of flax seeds are its higher antioxidant content.
One of the chia’s benefits that flax does not have is its high lutein and zeaxanthin content. Two compounds are associated with the prevention of certain types of cancer. (3)
Like amaranth, chia seeds provide a complete amino acid profile. In addition, its calorie intake is similar. However, amaranth can be a side dish or accompaniment to meals, while chia seeds cannot.
Where to buy chia seeds?
Chia seeds are currently sold in natural products stores and supermarket chains, just as you can always resort to online stores.
We recommend buying this product of organic origin. Organic foods do not contain pesticides and other chemicals in their composition. These products not only hurt health but also affect local biodiversity and ecology.
- Chia seeds are food derived from a plant of Latin American origin.
- The nutritional properties of chia seeds are high content of vegetable Omega-3, fiber, and minerals.
- One of the benefits of including this food in the diet is to regulate blood cholesterol levels and to regulate the digestion process.
- The uses of chia seed are not only to obtain its origins, but you can also make tea, and from the plant, you get one of the healthiest oils that exist.