Benefits of chia
Published August 14, 2014
What is chia?
Chia refers to the seeds of Salvia hispanica, an herbaceous plant from the mint family. It originated in Central America where it was a staple food in the ancient Aztec diet.1 Chia was considered ‘running food’ as Aztec messengers reputedly consumed chia seeds to sustain energy.1 Chia literally means ‘oily’,2 which is a reflection of its 30% oil content, of which omega-3 (linolenic) and omega-6 (linoleic) fatty acids make up a significant proportion.1 Chia is also a source of other important nutrients including protein and dietary fibre and may contain magnesium, iron and antioxidants.2 Because of its unique nutritional properties, chia is regarded by many as a superfood.
What are the benefits of chia?
Chia is a source of important macro and micronutrients including:
- Protein – The protein content of a Chia seeds is high, approximately 23%.1 Protein is required for growth and repair of the body’s tissues.
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 – Chia contains around 20% linoleic and 50% linolenic fatty acids1 and is therefore a good source of beneficial fats. Linolenic acid, a type of omega-3, is the principle precursor of EPA and DHA and is a structural component of the phospholipid membranes of cells throughout the body.
- Fibre – Chia is a good source of dietary fibre,1 which is important for maintaining bowel regularity and maintaining digestion.
- Antioxidants – Organic compounds found in chia seeds, including quercetin and kaempferol may have antioxidant effects.1
How can I add chia to my diet?
Chia seeds can be sprinkled in yoghurt mixed into a morning smoothie. It can also be used as an egg replacement in recipes. To support your digestive system, consider a chia superfood blend containing probiotics and prebiotics, which can be mixed in with your favourite drink or used to enhance your breakfast.
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