Chia, or saliva hispanica, is an herb with growing popularity. A member of the mint family, this tiny plant is loaded with nutrition, especially when it comes to the seed of the plant.
Just two tablespoons of chia seeds contain a whopping 138 calories, including 10 grams of fiber and relatively large amounts of protein and calcium.
These seeds also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with positive results in the areas of weight management and disease prevention(1).
Chia seeds have a long and distinguished history of being used by indigenous civilizations in Mexico for their nutritional value.
Having been cultivated for thousands of years – since pre-Columbian times – chia seeds have been used in the making of flour, beverages, and other foods(2).
Packed With Nutrition
Chia seeds are loaded with protein, which makes them a great staple food for those following a vegetarian diet.
One small serving – just 3 tablespoons – contains approximately 10% of your daily recommended intake of protein.
They’re also loaded with calcium, which is known for promoting healthier teeth and bones and preventing osteoporosis(3).
Two tablespoons or one ounce of chia seeds (28g) contains 18% of the RDI for calcium, 27% for phosphorus, 30% for magnesium and about 30% for manganese. These vital nutrients can help to prevent hypertension, maintain a healthy weight, keep energy levels up, and boost metabolism.
Chia seeds are also high in fiber, which is essential for promoting healthy bowel function and preventing certain types of cancer(4).
In addition to being gluten free – perfect for individuals with Celiac’s disease, or who are sticking to a gluten-free diet for other reasons – chia seeds are full of antioxidants, which combat age-related diseases(5).
How To Make Homemade Chia Seed Drink
Potential For Treating Diabetes
Chia seeds are currently being tested for their ability to prevent and even treat diabetes –
“Studies in aminals show that a chia-rich diet lowers harmful LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol,” says the Harvard University health blog(6).
“And a white-seeded variant of chia, called Salba, helped diabetic volunteers control their blood sugar, as well as their blood pressure and new markers of cardiac risk.”
Bringing Traditional Foods Into The Modern Age
“The use of medicinal food from folk medicine to prevent diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular problems is now gaining momentum among the public,” one study writes(7).
“Seed from salvia hispanica L. or more commonly known as chia is a traditional food in central and southern America. Currently, it is widely consumed for various health benfits especially in maintaining healthy serum lipid level… In vivo and clinical studies on the safety and efficacy of chia seed are still limited.”
While current research has some catching up to do when it comes to the therapeutic applications of chia seeds, there have been numerous animals studies proving that chia seeds are an efficient source of nutrition.
What’s clear is that chia seeds can be a great addition to your diet – high in nutritional value and gluten-free.
You can include chia seeds in baked goods or toast them and sprinkle them over salads for an extra dose of protein.