The chia seed has had a tumultuous history. A staple crop of the Aztecs and Mayans, it was virtually wiped out by the conquistadors because of its association with pagan rituals. Only centuries later, in 1991, was it rediscovered and subsequently recognized as the wondrous source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber it is.
The individual nutritional value aside, chia seeds are a conveniently delicious way to diversify our modern diets and thus increase the variety of benefits we gain from the food we put into our bodies.
Chia Seeds in the Ancient and Medieval World
The native people of the Americas dedicated large swathes of land to the cultivation of chia as well as other staples like amaranth, corn and beans. Roasted and ground chia seeds were used to create a flour from which tortillas were made. It was mixed with corn flour from maize to make various other traditional dishes.
Chia seeds were an important ingredient in native medicines, working as a catalyst that facilitated the uptake of other medicinal preparations. They were added to a variety of treatments for countering respiratory ailments, eye infections, and easing labor.
The Benefits of Chia Seeds – Facts and NumbersWe could wax lyrical about the multitude of benefits that chia seeds offer simply because we love them so much. Instead, we will give you the actual data that has emerged from years of research and let you see for yourself.
Chia Seeds – Better than the BestResearch shows that chia seeds have:
- 2 times the potassium of bananas
- 3 times the iron of spinach
- 4 times the antioxidants of blueberries
- 5 times the calcium of milk
- 7 times the Vitamin C of oranges
- 8 times the omega-3 fatty acids of salmon
Chia Seeds – Good for Everybody and Every Body
Heart and Brain – Chia seeds contain an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linolenic acid, which is great for the heart. With a 20% content by volume of fatty acids, it also works wonders for brain function.
Digestive System – The fiber in chia seeds is soluble and forms a gel in the gut that aids the digestive process. Enzymes like bromelain, cellulase and xylanase maximize the efficacy of nutrient extraction.
Muscles – You get a whopping 4.7 grams of protein from each ounce (28.4g) of chia seeds, meaning you feel fuller and get more nutritional benefits from eating less food.
Skin Hydration – Chia seeds maintain the body’s hydration level, which is essential for good skin health and helps you exercise at your optimum intensity for longer periods.
Dieting and Weight-loss – The high water content of chia seeds is an excellent feature for anyone coping with diet hunger pangs. Additionally, it improves glucose tolerance, which is great news for severely overweight individuals.