Benefits of chia
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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Published August 14, 2014
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