chia

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q .What are Chia Seeds?

A .Chia (Salvia hispanica L.), is a dietary and medicinal plant species used since the ancient times by the Aztec and Mayan. Its product is a dry indehiscent fruit often called a seed. However, since the past few decades, there has been an increased diffusion and attention of the seeds of the chia plant for their immense health benefits and the uses in cooking. The seeds are tiny (1mm up to 2mm), oval-shaped, and maybe white, black, grey or even brown if they are immature seeds.

Q .What are the Nutritional Facts of Chia Seeds?

A .Chia seeds provide about 10 grams of fiber per ounce ( almost  two tablespoons).This is evidently reinforced by the USDA data which shows that the fiber content of chia seeds are 34.4 grams per every 100 grams or 10 grams. Chia seeds contain all the essential amino acids in the right proportions and significant minerals including zinc, boron, iron, calcium, niacin, magnesium, manganese and niacin. Each 2 tablespoon of Chia seeds contains more than 10 percent of the daily recommended value for copper, niacin, calcium and iron and more than 20 percent for manganese, phosphorus, boron, selenium, and magnesium.

Chia seeds are an excellent source of the healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids, the Omega 3 fatty acids. Since Chia is a plant, it contains high amounts of the alpha-linolenic acid which are derived from vegetable oils, seeds and nuts. Chia seeds have approximately 25 to 35 % oil by weight, with a tablespoon of Chia seeds providing approximately 2.5 grams of the alpha-linolenic acid.

Chia seeds provide almost 2 grams of protein per tablespoon,( 4% of the daily recommended intake based on a 2,000 calorie diet plan).Chia has 18 amino acids, including all the essential amino acids which are easily digestible and assimilated into the body.

Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants such as the quercetin, caffeic acid, flavonols, chlorogenic acid and myricetin.

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In fact, Chia seeds provide;

  • 2 to 3 times the calcium of milk (more than a cup of low-fat milk, which provides 310 mg calcium)
  • 8 times the Omega 3 in Salmon
  • 2 times more iron than raw spinach
  • 20 percent total protein by weight
  • Vitamins B, D, and E
  • More antioxidants than the blueberries.
  • More digestible protein than soy, peas, and beans.
  1. What are the benefits of Chia Seed?

A .Chia seeds contain all the essential nutrients necessary for optimal growths and development such as antioxidants, proteins, omega- 3 fatty acids, minerals such as copper, boron, iron, calcium, niacin, magnesium, manganese and niacin, and vitamins at a right proportion. Below are some of its numerous benefits:

  • A tablespoon of chia seeds provides 5 grams of fiber. The soluble fiber, predominantly found in Chia seeds easily dissolves in water and passes through the digestive systems slowly as compared to the insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber found in Chia seeds helps to lower the LDL cholesterols (bad) and increases the HDL (good) cholesterol levels thus protecting a person from various cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.  The Fiber also helps lower your risks for high cholesterol, heart diseases, high blood sugar levels and constipation.
  • Being an oilseed, Chia seeds are rich in calories with 100g of the seeds providing almost 380 calories. Most of its calories are derived from the polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega 6 and Omega 3).
  • Chia seeds contain beneficial triglycerides which are long-chain in the right proportions which help to reduce the buildup of cholesterol on the arterial walls.
  • Chia seeds are an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acids. The essential Omega 3 fatty acid is an alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Alpha-linolenic acids have anti-inflammatory actions that help fight diseases such as cancers, blood pressure, and heart diseases, reduce inflammations, guarding against depression and Alzheimer’s diseases and possibly diminish symptoms of any autoimmune disorders The Omega-3 fatty acids also play a significant role in brain functions and normal growth and developments.
  • The omega 3 fatty acids in Chia seeds helps our bodies to absorb and emulsify fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K., For instance, they (omega 3) cooperate with Vitamin D to ensure that calcium is bioavailable to the tissues. In addition to that, Omega 3 is significant for normal glandular activities especially of the thyroid and adrenal glands.
  • Chia is also a good source of antioxidants such as the quercetin, caffeic acid, flavonols, chlorogenic acid and myricetin which functions to provide protection against the cell damages as a result of oxidation and free radicals. Antioxidants help prevent inflammations and occurrence of diseases such as cancer, arthritis etc.
  • Chia seeds will help soothe your digestive system due to its hydrophilic nature .The outer coat of the seed has a non-starch polysaccharides mucilage that swells up severally, making the chia seed acquire gel-like consistency thus helps in smoothing digestion and bowel movements. Its hydrophilic nature also aids in the digestion of food that causes pains due to acid reflux.chia3
  • Its gluten free property makes it safe for consumption for people suffering from celiac disease (gluten sensitivity), carbohydrate intolerance, Crohn’s Disease, hypoglycemia, Celiac Disease, or even for any person wishing to avoid any gluten-containing cereals and grains like barley, corn, and wheat.
  • According to com, Chia seeds are a low glycemic index food with a fullness factor of 2.8. Foods low in glycemic index ensure that there is effective regulation of the blood glucose levels, thus substitution of chia with other cereals such as rice can benefit people with diabetes.
  • Chia seeds also stabilize the blood sugars. Chia’s soluble fibers exert a stabilizing effect on the blood glucose levels regulating the rates at which starch (Complex carbohydrates) are digested and assimilated in the human body. Thus, this creates a steady and stable blood sugar levels. The presence of high extents of fiber helps in diabetes mellitus by slowing down the rate of digestion and releasing of glucose. It also increases the peristaltic movements of the intestine while reducing the plasma cholesterol level.
  • Chia seeds are excellent sources of essential minerals, particularly calcium, iron, phosphorus, selenium, boron, copper, magnesium, and These minerals play vital roles in mineralization of bones, production of red blood cells, cardiac regulation, enzyme synthesis, and skeletal and muscle activities . Niacin helps your body turn the food into energy and your body requires copper and iron for forming the red blood cells. Manganese, calcium, boron, and phosphorus are for strong bones, while the magnesium is necessary during the formation of the DNA structure. Selenium acts as an antioxidant thus helping in the prevention of oxidation and damaging of the cells.
  • Chia seeds aids in weight loss. Chia seeds act as an appetite They make you feel full since they absorb ten times their weight in water when forming a bulky gel. Besides that, the gel from chia which is formed in the stomach creates a physical barrier between the carbohydrates and digestive enzymes which break them, thus slowing down the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar. They slow down the absorption of carbohydrates so as to control appetite and reducing cravings. Thus, when chia seeds are eaten, the slow conversion of carbohydrates to sugar may actually give your body consistent energy streams, as opposed to a spike that is drastic, which will crash quickly. This will eventually build endurance and stamina due to the steady releasing of the glucose into the bloodstream.
  • Chia seeds promote hydration due to its hydrophilic properties. With Chia seeds, you can retain moisture and regulate the absorption of nutrients and fluids hence maintain electrolyte balance.
  • Chia seeds are good sources of all the essential amino acids. Protein from the chia seeds is easily absorbed, resulting in rapid growth, development, and regeneration of the tissue and body cells. Thus, this easily absorbed protein in chia makes it ideal for adolescents, children, pregnant and lactating women as well as the athletes.chia2
  1. What do Chia Seeds taste like?
  2. Chia seeds don’t have a distinct flavor. The flavor is slightly malty and a bit nutty, however, the flavor is so mild that its crunchiness matters more than the taste.
  3. What is the Difference between Black and White Chia Seeds?
  4. The two types of chia seeds have negligible nutritional differences, they essentially have the same contents of proteins, Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, fiber and other nutrients. However, the dark chia seeds have high levels of antioxidants as compared to the white chia seeds, just like any other dark cored vegetable and fruits.

In some cases, you might find brown seeds. The brown seeds are either immature chia seeds or weed seeds and they impact a strong flavor to the chia seeds. Avoid any brown chia seeds, as they are essentially low in protein and omega content, signifying a poor quality chia.

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  1. How do you take Chia Seeds? Chia seeds can be taken and consumed directly and they necessarily do not need to be ground before consumption. Most people find it appealing mixing them with foods like broths, salads, juices, yogurts, cereals etc. However, chia can be mixed with (either whole or ground), with flour and used in baking. Chia can even be used as a nutty topping in ice-creams. Chia’s hydrophilic structure holds water, so whenever it is mixed with drinks, sauces, dressings, salads, jellies, salads ,puddings, yogurt, soups, dips etc. it displaces fat and calories without necessarily diluting or compromising the flavor of the said food.
  2. Are Chia Seeds Gluten & Cholesterol Free? Absolutely yes! Chia gives you a balance of the Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids without any cholesterol since they are plant based, unlike other sources such as fish oils. Unlike other types of grains, Chia seeds are gluten-free with its high content of naturally occurring anti-oxidants keeping the oils against rancidity.
  3. How much chia seeds a day should you take? Actually, there isn’t a definitive answer for this, since there is ongoing research concerning the Total Recommended Intake of Chia seeds. However, two tablespoons (20 grams) twice in a day, is the commonly recommended dosage by various health practitioners all over the country.
  4. How many calories are in a tablespoon of chia seeds? A tablespoon of Chia seeds weighing almost 13 grams, has a total of 69 calories. Nearly 53% of the total calories are derived from its fat content, with the other 35 % and 12% of the total carbohydrate and protein content respectively.
  5. What happens if I eat more than the recommended amount in a day? Eating more than the daily recommended amount of chia can seriously hurt your stomach. Chia seeds absorb up to more than ten times their weight in water, hence if you eat too much, it might absorb more liquid from your body. However, we don’t intend to scare you off, since chia seeds are very healthy, just that you need to follow the instruction well from your health practitioner.
  6. Q .Are there side effects from Chia Seeds?
  • Chia possesses a choking risk especially if they are not soaked in adequate amount of water. This increased risk is due to the fact that chia seeds swell and absorb up to more than ten times their weight in water especially when seeds are exposed to water. Chia seeds can swell up and become clogged up in the throat.
  • Since Chia seeds are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids, Chia seeds act as natural blood thinners leading to bleeding and thinning out of blood, thus preventing clotting of blood.
  • Since they are high in protein content, Chia seeds may trigger an allergic reaction in persons who do not consume protein products.
  • Their fiber-rich content and spongy like quality can lead to some gastrointestinal issues such as:
  • Constipation and Diarrhea especially if they are not used to soluble fibers
  • Bloating and gases: since most of Chia’s fibers are soluble, your body’s breaking process of the seeds can cause too many gases, resulting in cases of bloating.
  • Abdominal Cramping: Slow moving fiber can result in cramping in some people because of the slow digestion caused by the fiber in Chia.

Because of their possible side effects, any person with gastrointestinal issues should consult a doctor before consuming chia or incorporating Chia seeds into their diets.

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4926888/#CR6

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0926669010003274

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000727.htm

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814607008709

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0926669010003274

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1043452615000510