Chia seeds, a staple seed in the diet of the Mayan civilization in the bygone ages, has found its way through modern times, and made its presence in the diet of the modern era as a superfood. The word ‘chia’ denoted ‘strength’ in the Mayan language, which they especially added to various beverages to make it an envigorating pre workout drink. Another novel way to incorporate this wonder seed in our daily diet is to add it in nutritional bars, along with nuts, to make them complete with energy & protein.
Owing to the increased interest of researchers & experts in exploring the varied health benefits of this wonder seed, the importance of chia seeds have been felt only in recent times. Chia seeds, may be black or white in colour, and is locally well known as Subja or Falooda seeds. A single tablespoon of chia seeds contain approx. 70 kcals, 2 gms of protein, 4.5 gms of essential fat and 5 gms of dietary fiber.
Health experts have discovered a plethora of health benefits connected with chia seeds. Among them, the important ones are as follows :
Chia seeds’ actions in improving heart health comprises of regulating bad cholesterol, maintaining blood pressure, and minimizing cardiac markers which pose a risk of coronary heart diseases, if found in high levels in the body. All of these functions of chia seeds help keep cardiac diseases at bay.
- Good Glycemic Control
Chia seeds are low in simple carbohydrates, and high in dietary fiber. They are also rich in essential fats. All these factors make it a low glycemic index food, which is beneficial in maintaining blood sugar levels in diabetes.
- Weight Management
Dietary fiber plays an essential role in suppressing appetite and controlling food intake among obese people, hence aiding in weight loss. Chia seeds contain them, moreover, they swell up when soaked in water, hence occupy more space in the stomach when ingested prior to any meal, thus controlling food intake.
- Digestive Aid
Chia seeds contain soluble fiber which absorb water in the gut & swells forming a gel like substance. This helps soften stools & helps their easy passage. This function helps keep the gut clean & well functioning.
- Energy Booster
They form a compact, energy rich source for a pre as well as post workout meal. Pre workout beverages with chia seeds can help provide a sustained source of energy through the workout whereas in post workout meal, they contribute as a refreshing, protein source. A nutritional bar can serve as a good post workout snack.
- Bone Health
Chia seed contains minerals essential for bone remodeling & growth such as boron, calcium & phosphorus. 1 tbsp of chia seeds contains approx. 90 mgs of calcium, 132 mgs of phosphorus, both of which are essential for maintaining bone integrity.
- Anti-inflammatory Action
Chia seeds contain good amount of omega-3 fatty acids which help in reducing systemic inflammation. Almost 60% of fats from chia seeds are omega-3 fatty acids. They slow the skin’s aging process due to this action. They are very effective against inflammatory diseases such as rheumatism, allergies, atherosclerosis, etc.
Ways of Incorporating Chia Seeds in Your Daily Diet
- Chia seeds can be roasted & consumed raw, like any other edible seeds.
- They can be soaked in fruit juices, smoothies, veggie juices, lemonades & had in other refreshing beverages.
- They can be added in muesli & milk, and had in the form of puddings. Or, they can even be added to yoghurt, muesli & fruit mixture and had as a parfait for snack.
- They can be roasted & powdered to be added in our daily all purpose flour, which shall increase the fiber content of our staple foods such as chapatis, parathas, theplas.
- They can be added to rolled oats or cornmeal while making bread, muffins, cookies or other baked produces.
- Another way of using chia seeds is as part of nutritional bars. Nutritional bars serve as a great source of protein & energy combo snack item, which can be grabbed while on the go, to curb those in between hunger pangs.
Nutritional bars can be constituted with the most healthy nuts & seeds to make them into enriching snacks, unlike those commercially available nutritional bars, which are otherwise mainly loaded with corn syrup, sugar & saturated fats.