Chia Seed Nutrition
Chia seed is called a super food for several very good reasons. This small seed packs a big punch when compared with many of North America's typical high quality whole food superstars like broccoli, bran, flax and red kidney beans or milk. Just take a look at this nutritional chart for one tablespoon of raw chia seed and you will see why it is in a class by itself.
Soluble and Insoluble Fiber
Another important component of the seed is its fiber content. Chia seeds have a very high soluable and insoluble (roughage) fiber content. Both these elements are important for good health. Chia seed's shell contains insoluable fiber that helps to clean and move foods through the digestive system. More fiber prevents constipation and aids in better elimination.
Fiber has been studied as a means to help prevent colon cancer1. In addition, fiber may help lower the LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and the total cholesterol and as a result lower your risk of heart disease. Other studies on fiber have shown persons with diabetes can reduce their blood sugar levels with an increased consumption of foods high in fiber.
|1 cup Bran Flakes = 5.3 grams/21% RDA fiber||1 cup Red Kidney Beans = 13.8 grams/55% RDA fiber|
|1 cup Chia seeds = 80 grams/288% RDA|
Chia seeds are the definitive hydrophilic colloid for the 21st century diet. Hydrophiles, from the Greek (hydros) "water" and (philia) "friendship," refers to a physical property of a molecule that can transiently bond with water (H2O) through hydrogen bonding. There are hydrophilic and hydrophobic parts of the cell membrane. Just add some chia seed to water and you can understand what is happening here.
A chia seed can absorb up to 9-12 times its weight in water.
You can see the fiber in chia seeds by adding water and watching it swell up with a glutinous gel forming around the hard seed shell. The gel is soluble fiber. The hard seed coat, typically coloured brown with light coloured blotches, contains the insoluble fiber.
Hydrophilic Colloids massively retain water which will keep your body well hydrated, maintain electrolyte balance and assist in elimination.
Fiber also lessens blood sugar swings, keeps you feeling "full" longer and assists with healthy weight management or weight loss.
Source of Plant Based Protein
Chia seed contains 2 TIMES the protein of any other seed or grain. Protein is essential in building muscle and tissues and also reduces your appetite. Chia seeds possess 19-23 % protein and the amino acids of chia seeds have no limiting factors in the adult diet. (they are a complete protein source and provide all of the essential amino acids in the appropriate balance).
We know that certain foods have ingredients that can help improve our health by fighting diseases such as cancer. These antioxidants capture and render neutral the free radicals in our body. These free radicals are thought to be the cause of the significant increases in cancers and other age related illnesses in our society. We know that eating foods high in antioxidants helps to neutralize these harmful pollutants.
A Perdue University study has found that chia seeds contain "high concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The major antioxidant activity in the nonhydrolyzed extract was caused by flavonol glycosides, chlorogenic acid (7.1 x 10-4 mol/kg of seed) and caffeic acid (6.6 x 10-3 m/kg). Major antioxidants of the hydrolyzed extracts were flavonol aglycones/kaempferol (1.1 x 10-3 m/kg), quercetin (2.0 x 10-4 m/kg) and myricetin (3.1 x 10-3 m/kg); and caffeic acid (1.35 x 10-2 m/kg)."3
Chia seeds have more antioxidant strength than blueberries.
Chia Seeds are High in Omega 3
Chia seeds and oil naturally contain more than 60 % Omega-3 EFAs. This is the highest percentage of Omega-3's of any available natural source.
The seeds also contain Omega-6 EFAs. Chia seed exhibits a favourable Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio of 3:1. Chia seed also contains Cinnamic acids that guard the Omega-3's against oxidation. Chia seeds contain greater alpha-linolenic acid concentrations than any other seed or grain.
Researchers believe this substance lowers the risk of heart and vessel disease, and can lower cholesterol and triglycerides. EFA's are essential in pregnancy, lactation, and lessen the symptoms of PMS.
When compared to Flax Seeds, "chia seed has a 64 percent concentration of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), while the better known (flax seed) contains 55 percent."1
Even when looking at Salmon, which is also very high in these essential fatty acids, Chia seed comes out on top. Unlike salmon or fish oil casuals, there is no fishy smell from Chia seeds and no risk of increased mercury as a by-product of the fish oil. Anyone looking to increase their Omega 3 intake should be including Chia seeds in their diet.
1 tbsp Flax seed = 1600mg of Omega-3
4 oz salmon = 1500mg of Omega-3
1 tbsp chia seeds = 2300mg of omega-3
1 tbsp chia seeds = 800mg of omega-6
Chia seed is also good for...
Chia seed is a nutrient dense alternative to grain source proteins. Chia seed is ideal for gluten sensitivities, carbohydrate intolerance, hypoglycemia, Celiac's Disease and Crohn's Disease. Due to the hydophilic colloid fiber content, chia seeds are not contraindicated for those who suffer from diverticulitis.
Heart Disease and High Cholesterol levels
Chia seed is high in Omega 3 and 6 EFA, which studies have shown to helps to reduce LDL and triglycerides. It contains no cholesterol, and is Trans fat free. It is naturally low in sodium. Chia seed is appropriate for the prevention of heart disease and the maintenance of heart and vessel health.
Chia seed gel is appropriate as a thickening agent to assist those suffering with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).