Chia seeds are tiny but packed with nutrients which will benefit your overall health.
They belong to the Lamiaceae family of oleaginous plants, which originates from Southern and Central America.
Research interests in Chia seeds were prompted by their high content of omega-3 fatty acids, with a potential role in reducing the risks of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, nervous system diseases, and inflammatory diseases.
They are so awesome and versatile! I personally love to sprinkle them on top of my smoothies but recently I have been intrigued by how good they taste in the form of a pudding.
It’s hard to imagine that a small seed can pack such a healthy punch. Let’s dive right in and figure it out!
Total daily fibre intake is an important component of the diet. Some of the health benefits associated with fibre include a reduction in cholesterol, modification of both insulin and glycaemic responses, improved gastrointestinal transit, and antioxidant activity. Fibre also performs a fat-binding function that enables gel-formation, which is known to contribute to satiation. Fibre is also associated with a chelating effect that serves to chelate ions.
Chia seeds have 2.3 times more fibre per 100 grams than oats, 8.3 times more than corn, and 9.8 times more than rice. 10 grams of chia seeds, correspond to more than 1/3 of the daily recommended fibre intake.
Antioxidant compounds reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases. These compounds also offer protection against other disorders such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Chia seeds contain tocopherols, phytosterols, carotenoids, and polyphenolic compounds, all of which exhibit antioxidant activity. The presence of these compounds serves to scavenge free radicals, chelate ions, and donate hydrogen molecules.
Caffeic and chlorogenic acids are the dominant antioxidants, which are known to inhibit lipid peroxidation. These compounds are significantly stronger antioxidants as compared to vitamins C and E.
Chia seeds are high in a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid, known to have an effect on inflammation. It’s called alpha-linolenic acid and is important to a healthy heart. A study on chia seeds confirmed that consuming 37 grams of chia seeds a day led to a reduction in inflammatory markers in the blood.
Thirty-seven grams is a lot in one day (a little over half a cup), but the findings are still significant. I should point out that when taking chia seeds, it is best to use them in softened form, such as in a smoothie or pudding. But yes, dried chia seeds sprinkled on a dessert or salad is fine, too!
Also, they can reduce cholesterol levels, regulate heart rhythms and blood pressure, minimise the risk of blood clots, and decrease systemic inflammation.
Chia seeds contain around 15–24% protein. The main protein components are globulins, which comprise 52-54% of total storage proteins, as well as albumins, glutelin, and prolamin.
Globulins are a rich source of glutamic, aspartic, aromatic, and sulphur amino acids. Overall, these globulins contain essential amino acids including leucine, lysine, histidine, valine, isoleucine, methionine, threonine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan. These amino acids also play a role in metabolic activity.
Glutamic acid is associated with stimulating the central nervous system and athletic endurance. Aspartic acid also contributes to proper nervous system function and the regulation of hormones. Comparably, sulphur-containing amino acids are implicated in the function of tertiary and quaternary structures of proteins. Moreover, chia seeds are also a potential source of bioactive peptides, which can act as protecting agents against oxidation.