The internet, health community in particular, never fails to surprise all of these with endless health fads that promise results beyond our wildest dreams. So, it’s no surprise that there’s another wild speculation doing the rounds on the internet today. You’ve probably heard of them and even thought of giving them a chance, but…are they worth your time and money?
Chia seeds are the next most important meal prep additions, after coconut oil, green tea, apple cider vinegar, and what not. So, now we are about to debunk chia seeds and if they’re worth the try or not. Should you take the leap?
First off, let’s begin with what chia seeds are. Unlike coconut oil or olive oil, chia seeds don’t come from the chia plant (oh! How we wish they did). Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant called Salvia Hispanica. It’s related to what we know as mint. But, you probably knew that. What you don’t know is that Chia seeds were an important food for the Aztecs and Mayans throughout the time the civilizations survived! They were especially prized for their ability to provide sustainable energy, without a crash and burn after-effect. So, PSA everyone! “Chia” in the ancient Mayan language means strength. Aztec warriors ate chia seeds to give them high energy and endurance. And for a long time, they were used as currency!
Now, with a magic food as influential as this, it’s no surprise that chia seeds are hailed today. But is it all good? Or is it too good to be true? We all know the golden rule when it comes to foods; if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Read on to everything there is about chia seeds, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And how you can incorporate this into your diet!
Main Photo Credit:Source
The Good; Chia Seeds Galore!
Let’s first trace the nutrition profile of the food. Chia seeds are packed with the following;
- Dietary fiber (11g )
- Protein (4.4g)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (4915 mg)
- Omega-6 fatty acids (1620 mg)
- Calcium (77 mg )
- Copper (0.1 mg )
- Phosphorus (265 mg )
- Potassium (44.8 mg )
- Zinc (1.0 mg )
Now with so many, and other, nutritional values, it only makes sense that Chia is called a super-food. So here are a few proven health benefits of chia, and how it exactly works in your system.
- Chia Seeds Are Loaded With Antioxidants
This is one of the most popular reasons why people go crazy over chia. They’re filled to the brim with many anti-oxidants. Many studies have proven the same. Antioxidants aren’t particularly effective, but when consumed through food, has an overall positive impact on the body. With the most impact on free radicals; these are the root cause of diseases such as cancer, and contribute to premature ageing.
- Chia Seeds contribute to weight loss
Finally a weight-loss claim that’s actually backed by science! These, out of the many super-foods, actually help you lose weight, actually work. Due to its high protein and fiber content, they function as sponges in your system. They have a unique property of absorbing liquids, and when they do it, it gives you the feeling of fullness and slows the absorption of food; as shown here. So, essentially, it reduces appetite and food intake.
But as with anything else, simply adding chia seeds to your diet will not do much, if significant changes aren’t made in your lifestyle along with the same.
- Significant positive impact on bone health
Calcium, magnesium, protein, and phosphorus are very important for bone health, and chia seeds have all of them. This is especially beneficial to those who are lactose intolerant and cannot consume dairy products. This could lead to calcium deficiency and cause other health issues. It’s even healthier for older individuals who suffer from a loss of bone density.
- Improve Physical Performance
This is for those who feel that exercise drains them completely. Happens to all of us, doesn’t it? Most of us are likely to reach for a quick energy drink, but be warned, that isn’t the way to go! According to this study, chia seeds give and equal amount, if not more, energy than any run-of-the-mill energy drink. It ups your carb count, giving you quick energy, without the feeling of crash-and-burn that usually accompanies traditional energy drinks.
- Chia Seeds assist in prevention of diabetes
Although this requires more than just a few types of research, the dominant medical belief is that Chia seeds really do work towards the prevention of metabolic disorders. This study, in particular, made some remarkable discoveries. In a nutshell; Chia seeds not only halt the development of diabetes but can also reverse it. Now, there’s only one way to know if it’ll work for you or not!
The Bad; Why Chia Seeds?
So, too much of a good thing isn’t always such a good idea. Here’s why you should also keep a tab on how much chia seeds you consume, and if you should really consume them at all.
This one’s a purely personal side-effect. Chia seeds come from the same family as some other ‘herbs’ and flavorings do; such as thyme, oregano, or sesame. This is why it’s important to know if you’re allergic to any of those, you’re also likely to be allergic to chia. Further, even if you aren’t necessarily allergic to these, you might still be at risk of cross-allergies, which could result in watery eyes, runny nose, vomiting, swollen tongue, and what not!
This one is a major red light and often gives chia any bad rep that it has. Most individuals jump on the health bandwagon and don’t realize some possibly catastrophic effects these ingredients and superfoods can have. Due to so much omega-3 acid, chia seeds can thin your blood which can lead to internal bleeding and an inability in the blood to clot. This can also reflect in your blood pressure and cause lead to cardiovascular diseases.
Again, as with any food, moderation will keep you alive. Especially keep in mind that if you’re consuming chia seeds raw, then you need to follow up with a lot of water since these seeds absorb up to 25 times their weight and size and it could leave you feeling gutted and nauseous.
How do I eat Chia Seeds?
Now that we’ve dealt with the biggest issue of the good and the bad; comes the how of chia seeds. Can you eat them raw? Or can you cook them? Which is better? And how can you avail the most of the chia seed and through which way? Before I tell you that; familiarize yourself with the kinds of chia seeds that you can choose from!
- Black Chia: lower protein and higher fiber
- White Chia: higher protein, lower fiber, slightly more expensive
- Brown Chia: least nutritious, are essentially only unripe chia seeds
The most common kind you’ll find is the mix between the black and the white; this will give you a hearty balance of both fiber and protein. So, now that you got your hands on the seeds, here are a few wacky ways of incorporating them into your diet!
- As Toppings: This is the most common and easiest way of consuming chia seeds. You can add them raw to almost every meal ever since they’re basically bland and have no defining or overpowering taste of their own. Your options include oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, sandwiches, spreads, salads, jams or jelly items. However, it tends to get soggy, so if you do not prefer that texture, you should sprinkle it on right before eating. Just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds carries 5 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, along with magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, and omega-3s! With just 60 calories.
- Make A Salad: This is a relatively new way of consuming chia seeds. If you’re looking for a health and energy boost! Give this vinaigrette a try;
- 1/2 tbsp of ground chia seeds
- Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 tbsp)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Whisk all ingredients in small bowl until combined. Toss in a large bowl with your favorite salad ingredients (pairs well with blueberries and red onion) and enjoy.
Or if you’re feeling something colourful; this dip might just be it! Feel free to create any salad topping using chia seeds and a bit of your imagination!
- Bake it into Bread: So it not only adds an added crunch to every bite of the crispy morning bread but also makes breakfast a whole lot nutritious. Or, just before putting the loaf in the oven, you could shower a few seeds on top.
- Make it into Smoothies and Drinks: This is a pretty versatile way of consuming chia seeds. This gives you so much freedom to customize the drink to your taste. Like, try out Chia Mango Shake for example! Or if you’re more into fancier ways of eating chia; this Mango chia parfait or Chia seeds fruity parfait is just right for you! Or are you looking for challenging flavor? This Ginger flavored carrot and orange fresca with chia seeds might give just that! Fun fact: Yogurt and chia seeds are a combination made in heaven. Try out Fruity yogurt pudding with berries and chia seeds recipe to test for yourself or if you want to bake something heavenly then try these Chia-seed-blondies.
- Just Exfoliate: Okay, so if you don’t wanna only eat your chia, you can also use it for your skin! Who doesn’t love a healthy food that can also blend right into your beauty routine? Just like the food; it’s versatile and can be made in multiple ways. For a quick mask; simply soak chia seeds in green tea for about 10 min, then apply it on your face till it's dry. Wash off with warm water and ta-da! You’re done!
With so many ways of consuming chia, you’re probably gonna start! And as will I! It’s one of those foods that you overlook the bad side of because the good side is so good. Let us know if you have any other unique ideas to consuming chia seeds.
Photo Credit: Chia-seed-blondies
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