Chia: The tiny superfood that’s a BIG deal
Would you like to know how to lower blood pressure, lower heart attack and stroke risk, lower inflammation in the body, restore gut health, balance the immune system, and increase fiber with a single whole food?
Then you need to be introduced to the chia seed — a tiny gluten-free, plant-based whole food that will do all that and more…
The chia seed isn’t much to look at, but it packs an incredible amount of nutrition into a tiny package. The chia seed stands as one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence, on both the macronutrient and micronutrient level. The Aztecs considered it “more valuable than gold.”
Why does chia deserve a place in your daily nutrition regimen?
Just a 2 tbsp. (1 oz.) serving of chia seeds offers:
Five times the omega-3 content of a 1/4 cup serving of walnuts
Twice the iron and magnesium of a cup of spinach
As much calcium as a half-cup of milk
As much potassium as a third of a banana
More than twice the fiber (soluble and insoluble) than a cup of oatmeal
Soft seed coat so you can consume the whole seed without milling
Chia is also a potent antioxidant source on par with blueberries and other blue-red fruits with impressive levels of kaempferol, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid and quercetin — a flavonoid with known anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.
Chia’s nutrition profile
Chia seed’s nutritional profile is undeniably broad and impressive. A standard 1 oz. serving (just about 2 tbsp or 28 g) of chia seeds contain:
Protein: 4 grams
Fat: 8 grams (heart-healthy and brain-protective omega-3s)
Carbs: 12 grams (11 of which are FIBER!)
Fiber: 11 grams (of your clear goal of 50 grams/day)
Chia’s protein contains all nine essential amino acids and a host of trace minerals and micronutrients. This includes 18 percent of your daily value (DV) of calcium, 27 percent DV of phosphorus, and 30 percent DV of manganese.
Those amazing essential fatty acids
The ratio of Omega-6 essential fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids in chia is 1620:4915 (a 1:3.03 Ratio). Compare this to the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) which is about 25:1 (Omega6:3). That is 75 times more anti-inflammatory Omega-3’s than inflammatory Omega-6’s! This is a crucial whole food that can assist in the process of reversing inflammation in the body — to protect your heart and brain health, and guard against diabetes, obesity, arthritis and cancer.
Plant-based Omega 3 sources (like Chia and Flax) provide mainly short-chain fat alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), which the human body inefficiently converts to more biologically active long-chain fats (like EPA and DHA — mainly derived from fish).
However, a recent study found that after seven weeks of taking 25 grams (about 2 Tbsp.) of milled chia daily, female test subjects showed significantly higher levels of plasma EPA (up to 20 percent), not just ALA. The health benefits associated with ALA consumption include cardiovascular effects, neuro-protection, a counter to the inflammation response, and benefits against autoimmune disease.
They are rich in phosphorous, manganese, calcium and potassium, all of which support healthy heart and muscle function and allow support for endurance events. One study shows quercetin also “has important implications for enhancement of athletic and military performance,” after it was shown to increase both VO2 max and endurance capacity in human subjects.
One of its best athletic benefits is the seed’s outer husk is hydrophilic, meaning it draws in fluid. When mixed in water, chia seeds can absorb 10 times their weight in fluid, helping to retain hydration between work-outs, or a great way to pre-hydrate and prolong hydration during intense training.
Chia’s amazing health benefits
Reduces inflammation and autoimmune diseases
Protects the Heart and Liver during weight loss in the obese
Increases Omega-3’s ALA and EPA – up to 20 percent conversion of ALA to EPA
Restores and supports immune system balance
Cardio-protective in women
Contains powerful anti-oxidants
Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure
Lessens joint pain
Diabetics have found reduced insulin spikes
More energy later in the day
Increased fingernail growth
Shinier, softer hair
Easy ways to enjoy chia seeds
Add 1 ounce of chia seeds (2 Tbsp.) to your:
Smoothie — add seeds or powders after it’s in your cup
Pancakes — with cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg
Salads (on top – makes vitamin A, E, D, and K from your greens absorbable)
Whole grain muffins
Yogurt parfait — stir it into plain or Greek with fruit, nuts or protein powder
Oatmeal — with cinnamon and nutmeg
Egg replacement — replace 1 egg by adding 1 Tbsp. chia seeds to 3 Tbsp water for 15 min, then stir.