To stay and remain healthy, you must eat only healthy foods. Unfortunately, our present day dynamic environment is not presenting an enabling platform that fosters a strict intake of only healthy foods. This is observed with the increasing production, distribution and circulation of artificial and junk foods.
Furthermore, the high consumption of dietary fat and starchy food remains a major concern in nutrition research. The concern is that failure to make an early U-turn and stick to only healthy food options poses a high risk of onset of several chronic malignant diseases.
Fortunately, most of these healthy foods are quite affordable and easily at our beck and call. The call to action is for you to strive hard and endeavour to eat nothing but only healthy foods. Tough one right? But I bet you’ll be glad you heed to this call today a few years from now!
There are loads of healthy foods you can easily reach out to and one of such is the chia seed. If you are still on this page, then it might interest you to learn more about chia seeds nutritional values, benefits and side effects.
Chia is coined from the Nahuatl word “chian”, which connotes oily while chia seed means "beverage seed”. Being a functional food with health-giving additives, it is so obnoxious that several people are still oblivious of why they need to include chia seeds in their diet. The benefits of chia seeds cannot be overemphasised as several active ingredients and essential compounds have been found present. Peradventure you are unsure of how chia seeds can be used, it might interest you to know that they are useful in several ways such as; foodstuff, culinary purposes, emulsifier, suspension production, food thickener, rehydrating agent, chelating agent, gel production, clarifying agent or as a foam enhancer.
Chia is an annual plant of the Lamiaceae (Mint) family that comprises of two main species, which are botanically known as Salvia hispanica L and Salvia columbariae (golden chia). Chia seed is an oilseed that is originally from Mexico and Northern Guatemala before spreading to other parts of the world such as Argentina, Australia, southwestern United States, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia.
The medicinal and nutritional effects of this special seed are attributed to its high constituents of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, antioxidants, ?-linolenic acid, minerals, protein and dietary fibre.
Chia plant grows up to 5.7 feet in height and bears opposite leaves that measure between 4 to 8 centimetres long and 3 to 5 centimetres wide.
The plant produces purple or white hermaphrodite flowers that mostly blossom during the dry season. The flowers usually grow in clusters, which are protected by bracts that have long pointed tips. The seeds can be white, red, grey, brown, black or spotted in colour depending on the species.
Chia seeds are oval in shape and measure between 2.0 to 2.5 millimetres long, 1.2 to 1.5 millimetres wide and 0.8 to 1.0 millimetres in thickness. The hydrophilic nature of the chia seeds enables it to absorb liquid and form mucilaginous coatings when soaked.
Nutritional Values of Chia Seeds
A study by Mohd et al., (2012) shows that the chia seeds contain between 25% to 40% oil. About 60% of the oil comprises of (omega) ω-3 alpha-linolenic acid and 20% of (omega) ω-6 linoleic acid. Chia seed is an excellent source of riboflavin (14%), dietary fiber (18 to 30%), protein (15 to 25%), thiamine (54%), folate (12%), carbohydrates (26 to 41%), niacin (59%), fats (30 to 33%), dry matter (90 to 93%) and ash (4 to 5%). Chia seed is also a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin B12, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc and manganese.
Benefits of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds (tokhm-e-sharbatī) is edible thus can be consumed in several ways such as beverages, smoothies, drinks, bakery products and main meals. Chia seeds can also be used as topping on bread, sandwiches, granola bars, salads, cereals and yoghurt.
Studies show that chia seeds contain antimicrobial, antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, anticoagulant, antiviral, laxative, anti-anxiety and antineoplastic properties. A research by Suri et al., (2016) shows that chia seeds may be suitable for preventing, treating and managing most types of non-communicable diseases.
Furthermore, this special seed can help to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates thereby improving the postprandial blood glucose levels in the blood. According to Rangaraju and Kumar (2013), chia seeds can also boost the body’s immunity, prevent nervous system disorders, increase satiety index (satisfy hunger) as well as support the blood clotting mechanism.
Maintains Healthy Serum Lipid Level
Mohd et al., (2012) research showed that the chia seeds are suitable for maintaining healthy serum lipid level. This is as a result of the high amount of omega 3, 6 and phenolic acid oil present in the seed.
Divyapriya et al., (2016) investigated the antimicrobial effects of the chia seeds extract on Porphyromonas gingivalis, Fusobacterium nucleatum and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans. They used cold maceration to extract chia seeds in ethanol and distilled water while the crude residue was obtained by evaporation at room temperature.
The antimicrobial efficacy of the chia seeds extracts was assessed against oral microorganisms by determining the inhibition zone and minimal inhibitory concentration. The result shows that chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) in distilled water and ethanol are effective against A.actinomycetamcmitans, P.gingivalis and F.nucleatum.
The high phenolic compounds of the chia seeds have been proven to possess antioxidant properties (Suri et al., 2016). Phenolic compounds and antioxidants are deemed effective for preventing, protecting and tackling degenerative diseases such as diverticulosis, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Both chia seed and its oil also contain bioactive compounds such as 3,4 dihydroxyphenyl ethanol-elenolic acid dialdehyde (DHPEA-EDA), quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin and chlorogenic acid. These bioactive compounds contain a high amount of antioxidants, which are essential for the body.
Furthermore, Ullah et al., (2016) research showed that the myricetin, kaempferol, chlorogenic acid, quercetin and caffeic acid found in the chia seeds are hepatic protective, anti-carcinogenic and anti-ageing in nature.
Cancer is increasingly becoming a major threat to humanity. A type of cancer that continues to pose a great risk to the male gender is the prostate cancer.
Kumar et al., (2016) evaluated the dietary, antioxidant and cytotoxicity (human prostate cancer cells) properties of crude extract of chia seeds. The results revealed the presence of flavonoids, phenols, tannins, glycosides, alkaloids, saponins and proteins in the crude extract of Chia seeds.
The cytotoxicity assay showed that the crude extract of chia seeds subdued the growth of prostate cancer cell lines (PC-3) in a dose-dependent manner. As a result, the crude extract of Chia seeds is considered therapeutically suitable for tackling prostate cancer cells.
Studies reveal that chia seeds can be used as a laxative for stimulating or facilitating the evacuation of faeces from the bowels.
To use chia seeds as a laxative;
a) Add one tablespoon of chia seeds in a one-quarter glass of water.
b) Stir and allow the mixture to sit for 15 minutes.
c) Consume the mixture.
Studies show that consuming mucilage aids digestion and chia seeds contain mucilaginous polysaccharide that protects the seed. Due to the high mucilaginous constituents of the chia seed, it is considered effective for aiding digestion and facilitating the removal of faecal matters through the anus.
Chia seeds are rich in mucilage thus considered an excellent natural source of gum. Chia gum usually appears from the seeds shortly after being soaked in water. Chia gum is made up of ?-D-xylopyranosyl, ?-Dglucopyranosyl, and 4-O-methyl-?-D-glucopyranosyluronic acid unit in the ratio of 2 : 1 : 1. Segura-Campos et al., (2014) reported that chia seed gum can be used for industrial purposes due to its gel-like and slimy texture. Chia seeds gum can serve as an additive for controlling consistency, viscosity, texture and stability in food industries.
Chia seeds can be used for feeding animals.
Storage of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds can be cleaned, dried and preserved for future uses. Its potential to withstand damage and deterioration of the essential oils is attributed to the high antioxidants present.
Side Effects of Chia Seeds
1) Drastic reduction of the diastolic blood Pressure
Studies show that chia seeds can extremely reduce the diastolic blood pressure level. As a result, individuals suffering from low blood pressure are encouraged to avoid consuming chia seeds.
2) Allergic Reactions
Chia seeds can cause adverse allergic reactions due to its high proteins. Individuals that are allergic to nuts and mustard seeds are encouraged to avoid consuming chia seeds.
It is worthy to note that chia seeds allergic reactions can cause skin rashes, hives, watery eyes, vomiting, difficulties in breathing, diarrhoea, and inflammation of the mouth, tongue and larynx.
3) Gastrointestinal Discomfort
Chia seeds can cause gastrointestinal discomfort such as bloating and flatulence. This is attributed to its high fiber content.
4) Precaution before Surgery
Patients that are about to undergo surgery are encouraged to avoid chia seeds.
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DISCLAIMER This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
1] Divyapriya, G. K., Veeresh, D. J. and Yavagal, P. C. (2016),Evaluation of antibacterial efficacy of chia (Salvia hispanica) seeds extract against Porphyromonas gingivalis, Fusobacterium nucleatum and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, An in-vitro study, International Journal of Ayurveda and Pharma Research, Vol 4, Issue 4, pp.22-24.
2] kumar, D. G., Perumal, P. C., Kumar, K., Muthusami, S. and Gopalakrishnan, V. K. (2016), Dietary Evaluation, Antioxidant and Cytotoxic Activity of Crude Extract from Chia Seeds (Salvia hispanica L.) against Human Prostate Cancer Cell Line (PC-3), International Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemical Research 2016; 8(8), pp. 1358-1362.
3] Maira Rubi Segura-Campos, Norma Ciau-Solís, Gabriel Rosado-Rubio, Luis Chel-Guerrero, and David Betancur-Ancona, “Chemical and Functional Properties of Chia Seed (Salvia hispanica L.) Gum,” International Journal of Food Science, vol. 2014, Article ID 241053, 5 pages, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/241053
4] Mohd Ali, N., Yeap, S. K., Ho, W. Y., Beh, B. K., Tan, S. W., & Tan, S. G. (2012). The Promising Future of Chia, Salvia hispanica L. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, 2012, 171956. http://doi.org/10.1155/2012/171956
5] Rangaraju, A. and Kumar, U. M. (2013), A Pharmacognostic Study on Salvia Hispanica, American Journal of Pharmacy & Health Research, Volume 1, Issue 9, pp.27-35.
6] Suri, S., Passi, S. J. and Goyat, J. (2016), Chia seed (Salvia hsipanica L.) - A new age functional food, 4th International Conference on Recent Innovations in Science ENgineering and Management, pp.752-760.
7] Ullah, R., Nadeem, M., Khalique, A., Imran, M., Mehmood, S. Javid, A. and Hussain, J. (2016), Nutritional and therapeutic perspectives of Chia (Salvia hispanica L.): a review, Journal of Food Science and Technology, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 1750–1758.
8] Pixabay (2016), Images from pixabay