Chia, the seed of South American herb Salvia hispania L, has been hailed as a highly valuable food for many centuries. It is believed to have been one of the staples of the Aztec diet, celebrated as an aid to mental acuity, physical endurance and general wellbeing. Today it remains a core part of local cuisine in its native growing areas of southern Mexico and Guatemala.
The signature offering of Chia seed is large quantities of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, in a ratio believed by science to be dietary optimum. There are many modern foods that contain Omega oils, but many of these give them in a ratio skewed in favor of Omega-6. The Omega ratio in Chia aids the cellular health of our brain, and boosts its chemical communication pathways. Chia has been associated with symptomatic relief for people suffering from depression. Chia’s Omega fatty acid content is vital for healthy blood, regulates blood pressure and promotes good cardiac health overall. It is also important for proper immune function and stabilized blood sugar.
Chia also provides useful proteins, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Chia contains vitamins A, B1,2,3,6 and 8, plus E. It also features calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc.
Chia is an ancient and natural food, ideal as a supplement to diets constrained by the rigours of modern life.
Health benefits of Chia seed :
Chia’s fortunate combination or Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids has several key benefits for humans.
• Omega-3 and Omega-6 in a favourable ratio promote neurological cellular health and chemical communication. Both concentration and emotional stability can be improved. For this reason Chia has been associated with reduction of symptoms in those suffering from depression.
These fatty acids are vital to maintenance of good blood health. They aid the regulation of blood pressure, can lead to reduced heart rates and so help reduce the incidence of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart attack. Improved immune responses have also been reported by consumers.
• Water is taken up readily by the fibres of these fatty acids. This helps regulate the carbohydrate release from our food, which leads to improved blood sugar level regulation. Hypoglycemics and diabetics, for whom blood sugar level variation causes issues, can benefit from this.
Chia also boasts a 9% content of high-quality protein, vital for tissue growth and recovery following exercise. Its vitamin B content is also necessary for young and active people, thanks to its role in helping correctly metabolise carbohydrates and amino acids. The vitamin E in Chia is important for cardiac health and prevention of a range of disorders.
The mineral content of Chia should not be ignored. It contains magnesium, which is essential for proper muscle function. Calcium and phosphorous are also present – both essential for healthy growth and maintenance of bones, teeth and the nervous system. In addition, Chia provides the essential elements zinc, iron, copper and potassium. Rainforest Foods Chia is grown on small farms in central Mexico, where it is sown in fields in June. Harvesting occurs in November, after a long growing season in which its high nutritional content can form. The harvested seed is quickly cleaned, purified and packaged at a cooperative plant within the growing region.
Mark Dean is a health writer with Rainforest Foods, covering topics with the latest information on Spirulina Powder, Chlorella Powder as well as facts on Chia Seeds.
Photo. © Marek Uliasz