What is Chia?
Chia is an edible seed that comes from the Salvia hispanica plant, which commonly grows in southern Mexico. Anthropological evidence shows that chia seeds were a staple crop of the Aztec and Mayan empires as long ago as 3500 B.C. The Spanish conquistadors outlawed the cultivation of chia due to its connection to Aztec religion, and the grain faded into obscurity. In recent years, chia has enjoyed a popular resurgence as scientists have discovered amazing health benefits associated with it.
What are the Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts?
Chia is one of the ultimate superfoods. A single ounce of chia contains 42 percent of your daily recommended fiber, and more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. It also contains very healthy doses of electrolytes, antioxidants, and even protein. In fact, chia is a complete protein source, containing all of the essential amino acids, and it contains 3 times more calcium than skim milk.
What are the Benefits of Chia Seeds?
Thanks to its myriad nutrients, chia offers a wide variety of health benefits. Chia consumption can help you to meet many of your daily nutrient requirements, and the fiber can help you to keep your appetite under control. The ancient Aztec warriors consumed chia for the energy and endurance that it provides, and you can experience the same energy boost by consuming chia seeds yourself. The ample calcium can help prevent bone disorders like osteoporosis. Chia also promotes heart health and beautiful skin, hair and nails.
How Do I Consume Chia Seeds?
You have many options when it comes to chia. You can eat the seeds by themselves or add them to your food or drink, and still derive all of the nutritional benefits. There are chia seed foods, chia seed drinks, chia seed oils and even chia seed bars. Other superfoods, like flax seeds, must be ground up, but chia seeds are beneficial no matter how you consume them. You can even consume chia as a gel, which offers many benefits of its own. Researchers have also found that chia seeds gel has the ability to slow the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugar. Vitalyte's Chia Surge energy gel is a great example of an effective use of chia.
What are the Benefits of Chia Seeds vs. Flax Seeds?
Flax seeds are very nutritious as well, but they do not hold a candle to chia seeds. For instance, flax seeds must be ground up in order for their nutrients to be digestible. By contrast, you do not need to grind up chia seeds in order to obtain the nutritional benefits. Also, chia has much higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants than flax does, and is more nutrient-dense.
What are Chia Seeds' Side Effects?
Chia has many nutritional benefits and very few side effects. If you are taking blood thinners, you may want to speak with your doctor before adding chia to your diet, simply because omega-3 fatty acids can thin the blood. Also, the high fiber content may leave some people feeling slightly bloated. You will find though, that the benefits far outweigh the side effects.