The existence of Chia seeds goes back to 3500 BC. It was cherished by the peoples of Central America. Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. It grows abundantly in southern Mexico. In pre-Columbian times chia seeds were a main component of the Aztec and Mayan diets and were the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors. One tablespoon was said to sustain an individual for 24 hours. The Aztecs also used chia medicinally to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin.
Chia is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is rich in antioxidants. Chia does not deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid. Chia seeds provide fiber (25 grams give you 6.9 grams of fiber) as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc. When chia is added to water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, chia forms a gel. Researchers suggest that this reaction may also takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar.
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Chia seeds were originally used by the Mayans as an energy supplement. The running messengers used to carry a little pouch of the seeds around with them. So, chia has been called the “Indian running food”. Chia Seeds provide a major source of Omega-3 in the form of ALA. It is well known that Omega-3 has a beneficial effect on Cardiovascular Disease. New studies are showing that chia seeds also have beneficial effects on reducing triglycerides. Animal studies suggest that omega-3 can reduce brain levels of the amyloid proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease and reduce irregular heartbeat. Omega-3 help stabilize the heart and reduce cases of sudden death. Christopher DeGiorgio, professor of neurology at University of California, Los Angeles, has been testing this theory in epilepsy. For us with PLD and PKD, the benefits of Chia is that there is no growth of liver cysts experienced when taking chia seeds. Whereas other food sources of ALA, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, flaxseed do cause an increase in cyst growth.
Omega 3 is found naturally in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines. While omega 3 is generally safe, some side effects include a fishy aftertaste, gastrointestinal disturbances, nausea, and cyst growth. Omega-3 from fish oil may contain mercury and are higher in environmental toxic components. These side effects of omega-3 can be avoided with grain sources of omega-3 like chia seed.
HEALTH BENEFITS CHIA SEED
- • 2 times the protein of any other seed or grain
- • 5 times the calcium of milk
- • 2 times the amount of potassium as bananas
- • 3 times more iron than spinach
- • and of course, copious amounts of omega-3 and omega-6, and essential fatty acids or EFA's
- • 30% of the chia seed’s oil is Omega 3 oil. 40% of its oil is Omega 6 oil. Chia provides a nice balance for those who take supplemental Essential Fatty Acids. Chia seed’s substantially dense percentage in alpha-linolenic fatty acid also makes this seed a healthy dietary source of fatty acids.
- • You do not need to grind the Chia Seeds to digest it. It is a relatively easy to digest seed, whereas flax seeds are not. Often, one has to grind flax seeds to be able to process them in their digestive system. That is not the case with chia seeds. Flax contains phytoestrogens whereas chia does not.
- • The chia seeds are great for athletes because they are highly hydrophilic. Being hydrophilic means it absorbs large amounts of water. Chia Seeds can absorb over 10 times their weight in water making them a great enhancer in hydrating our bodies. They absorb the water we drink holding it in our system longer. Studies show that eating chia seed slows down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrate calories into simple sugars. This can help PLD'rs maintain a steady sugar level.
- • Chia seed gels when becoming wet and this gel, when in our digestive systems, helps prevent some of the food, hence calories that we eat from getting absorbed into our system. This blockage of calorie absorption makes the chia seed a great diet helper. Eating the seeds also helps dieters by making them feel fuller faster so they will be less hungry!
- • Chia seeds are high in fiber and in healthy oils making them an excellent addition to a diet.
- • Chia seeds provide antioxidant activity
SIDE EFFECTS OF CHIA SEED
Chia seeds are recommended as adjunct treatment for cancer chemotherapy. It boosts energy levels and provides essential nutrients. This seems to help a body undergoing cancer treatments. Chia seeds are good but at the same time there are some side effects from these seeds. It can lower the blood pressure in your body, especially, if you are someone in s more senior age group. Take extra care, as Chia seeds are capable of lowering blood pressure to very low levels. This seed is a great source of vitamin B-17. Chia is high in phytonutrients. People who take blood thinners like warfarin should exclude this from their diet as Chia seeds may increase the risk for bleeding. Chia may be an allergic food as it is the member of the salvia genus – mustard seeds and sesame seeds are from this same family.