Saturday, January 23, 2016

Chia Seeds (Salvia Hispanica): Medicinal Benefits and Uses

Chia Seeds (Salvia Hispanica)
Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a flowering plant, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. It was cultivated by the Aztec and Mayan Civilizations. In fact, “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.” Ground or whole chia seeds are still used in Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, Mexico, and Guatemala. In 2009, the European Union approved chia seeds as a novel food, allowing up to 5% of a bread product's total matter. Despite their tiny size, chia seeds are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. They are loaded with fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids and various micronutrients. 

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds:
Chia seeds are a rich source of the Thiamine (Vitamin-B1) and Niacin (Vitamin-B3) and a good source of the B vitamins Riboflavin (Vitamin-B2) and Folate (Vitamin-B9, Vitamin-M or Vitamin-Bc). Chia seeds is also a rich source of the dietary minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc.
Chia seeds are high in antioxidants and are capable of stopping up to 70% of free radical activity in human body. Antioxidants speed up the skin’s repair systems, and prevent further damage. Taking chia seeds can prevent premature skin aging due to inflammation free radical damage. It is also found that the antioxidant activity of chia seeds is higher than any whole food, even blueberries.
Chia seeds are one of the best sources of fiber in the world. Almost all of the carbohydrates in chia seeds are fiber that gives them the ability to absorb 10-12 times their weight in water. This should increase fullness, slow absorption of your food and help you to fight with obesity. Being high in dietary fiber, chia can be a natural blood sugar balancer due to its high fiber content and healthy fats and can help to promote bowel regularity and healthy stool. Regular bowel movements are crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool. They are easier to digest and don't need to be ground up.

Chia seeds are high source of quality protein, compared to most plants. Protein is the most weight loss friendly macronutrient and can drastically reduce appetite and cravings.
Chia seeds are one of the best sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the world, even more than that of in Salmon Fish. However the most of the Omega-3 Fatty Acid found is mostly ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid), which is not much beneficial because humans are not good at converting this into DHA (the most important Omega-3 fatty acid). ALA needs to be converted into the “active” forms of Omega-3 Fatty Acids i.e. EPA and DHA, before it can be used by the body. Metabolism of ALA into other omega-3 fatty acids requires two metabolic processes called desaturation and elongation. Many Enzymes and nutrients are required to trigger these processes. Specifically, vitamins B3, B6, and C together with the minerals zinc and magnesium are enzymatic co-factors that our body needs to convert ALA into EPA, DHA, and other omega-3 fatty acids. For people who have deficiency of vitamins B3, B6, or C, or deficiency of the minerals zinc or magnesium and the people with certain genetic tendencies or chronic health problems, would not be expected to optimally metabolize ALA into EPA and DHA. It might be more important for the body to receive pre-formed EPA and DHA, ideally from food like wild-caught Pacific salmon or from supplements if whole food choices turn out to be inadequate. Omega-3 Fatty acids also protects against inflammation—such as arthritis—and heart disease).
ALA an omega-3 fatty acid limits the growth of cancer cells in both breast and cervical cancers. They also found that it caused cell death of the cancer cells without harming the normal healthy cells.
Chia seeds are high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and protein. All of these nutrients are essential for bone health. Being rich in vitamin A, zinc and phosphorus Chia seeds are good for dental health. Zinc prevents tarter by keeping plaque from mineralizing onto your teeth and has an antibacterial effect that keeps bad breath germs away. Vitamin A and phosphorus are also important for strong teeth and a healthy mouth.

Chia seeds are a very good remedy for Type-2 diabetes and a significant drop of certain health markers like blood pressure, hs-CRP (an inflammatory marker) and vWF (risk marker) is found when Chia seeds were eaten by type-2 diabetic patients. Chia seeds slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars.
Chia seeds can partly replace quick energy drinks or foods as a way of carbohydrate loading (carb-loading) for endurance athletes. They are also great for athletes because the "chia gel" can hydrate the body.
Chia seeds contain no gluten or grains. Gluten (a mixture of proteins found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye) contains hundreds of proteins, which have low biological and nutritional value and high contents of prolamins (glutamines and prolines), as opposed to the grains of pseudo-cereals (gluten free), which are rich in proteins with high biological value (albumins and globulins). Therefore, being a pseudo-cereals all of the nutritional benefits of chia seeds can be obtained on a gluten-free diet.
Chia seeds can used in place of eggs to lower cholesterol and increase the nutrient content of foods and baked goods.

Possible Effects of Chia Seeds:
1.                For allergies,
2.                For angina,
3.                For athletic performance enhancement,
4.                For cancer treatment,
5.                For coronary heart disease (CHD),
6.                For heart attack,
7.                For hormonal/endocrine disorders,
8.                For hyperlipidemia,
9.                For hypertension,
10.          For stroke,
11.          For vasodilatation
12.          Anticoagulant,
13.          Antioxidant,
14.          Antiviral.
Nutritional Facts of Chia Seeds:
Chia seeds - Salvia Hispanica (Dried)
Carbohydrate Factor: 4.07 Fat Factor: 8.37 Protein Factor: 3.47 Nitrogen to Protein Conversion Factor: 5.3
Nutrient (Proximates)
Unit
per 100 g
Water
g
5.8
Energy
kcal
486
Protein
g
16.54
Total lipid (fat)
g
30.74
Ash
g
4.8
Carbohydrate, by difference
g
42.12
Fiber, total dietary
g
34.4
Minerals
Calcium, Ca
mg
631
Iron, Fe
mg
7.72
Magnesium, Mg
mg
335
Phosphorus, P
mg
860
Potassium, K
mg
407
Sodium, Na
mg
16
Zinc, Zn
mg
4.58
Copper, Cu
mg
0.924
Manganese, Mn
mg
2.723
Selenium, Se
µg
55.2
Vitamins
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid
mg
1.6
Thiamin
mg
0.62
Riboflavin
mg
0.17
Niacin
mg
8.83
Folate, total
µg
49
Folate, food
µg
49
Vitamin B-12
µg
0
Vitamin A, IU
IU
54
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
mg
0.5
Lipids
Fatty acids, total saturated
g
3.33
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated
g
2.309
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated
g
23.665
Fatty acids, total trans
g
0.14
Cholesterol
mg
0
Amino Acids
Tryptophan
g
0.436
Threonine
g
0.709
Isoleucine
g
0.801
Leucine
g
1.371
Lysine
g
0.97
Methionine
g
0.588
Cystine
g
0.407
Phenylalanine
g
1.016
Tyrosine
g
0.563
Valine
g
0.95
Arginine
g
2.143
Histidine
g
0.531
Alanine
g
1.044
Aspartic acid
g
1.689
Glutamic acid
g
3.5
Glycine
g
0.943
Proline
g
0.776
Serine
g
1.049
How to use Chia Seeds:
·                   The seeds themselves taste rather bland, so you can add them to pretty much anything. Chia seeds may be added to other foods as a topping or put into smoothies, breakfast cereals, energy bars, granola bars, yogurt, tortillas, and bread made into a gelatin-like substance, or consumed raw. The gel can be used to replace as much as 25% of egg content and oil in cakes while providing other nutrients.
·                   They also don’t need to be ground like flax seeds, which makes them much easier to prepare. They can be eaten raw, soaked in juice, added to porridges and puddings, or added to baked goods. You can also sprinkle them on top of cereal, yogurt, vegetables or rice dishes.
·                   Because of their ability to absorb both water and fat, they can be used to thicken sauces and even used as egg substitutes in recipes. They can also be mixed with water and turned into a gel. Adding chia seeds to recipes will dramatically boost the nutritional value.
·                   Use chia seeds in foods, not as a supplement, but as an alternative to processed grains like white bread because it is a much healthier whole grain that is great-tasting in foods like muffins. Two daily doses, each consisting of 20 grams (a little less than 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds.
Cautions while using Chia Seeds:
If you have food allergies (especially to sesame or mustard seeds) or are on high blood pressure medications or blood thinners, you should ask your health care provider before adding chia to your diet.