Is The Chia Seed A Superfood Or Superdud?

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chia seedsChia seeds have been around for a long time, even longer than they’ve been a “superfood fad”.

This leaves us to wonder whether there is some truth behind the hype. In the end, it’s a decision everyone must make for themselves.

It’s much easier to make if you understand the chia seed, its past, and what it can potentially do for the body. Then you can make the decision whether or not you want to give it a shot.

A Look At The Chia Plant

While the chia seed is the topic of much discussion, we can’t forget about the plant it is derived from. The word chia comes from an old Nahuati word “chian”, which means oily. There are a few other things in Central America with a similar name, such as the Chia River or even the state of Chiapas in Mexico. The chia herb is a flowering plant that belongs to the mint family.

It flowers and dies once a year and is then born again through its seeds. The average growing cycle changes according to the location. In some areas like southern Argentina it will only last between 100 and 150 days. However, in northwestern Argentina it may take between 120 and 180 days. It depends heavily on the elevation. The chia plant can stand up to 5 foot and 7 inches.

chia seedsThe flowers are a mix of purple of white and bud in a spike-like pattern on the stem. Growing the plant requires an ideal environment so there are some regions where you aren’t likely to find it growing.

It needs moisture, yet well-drained soil. In America, chia seeds are most often cultivated in the Southwest. Quantity of seeds depends on the growing conditions and means of cultivation.

Some areas yield only 450 kg/ha while others might yield more than 5 times that. The genotype plays a significant role in the quality and quantity of the seeds. It also plays a role in the nutritional value and health benefits of the seeds.

The History Of The Plant And Seed

Chia is believed to have been cultivated for thousands of years and was a widely sought after crop well into the 16th century. Many texts suggest that the Aztecs cultivated and loved the chia plant as much as maize.

21 different Aztecs state used the plant as a tribute offering. However, historians believe the plant was cultivated further south before this time. Before the arrival of the Europeans in America, chia was already being used for its medicinal purposes.

It was also used as a common ingredient in many meals and even mixed with drinks. Many of the things we do with the chia seeds today were, the Aztecs were doing with seeds and the plant itself long before. The arrival of the Europeans changed many things throughout Central America, including the widespread cultivation and consumption of chia.

chia seeds Many foods were actually banned, including chia, because of their close ties with the local religions. The plant barely managed to survive in the most central area of Mexico for the following centuries.

Luckily, the plant did survive and today it is cultivated in many different parts of the world, including Southwestern America and Australia.

It’s widespread through much of Central America and South America once again. It is not cultivated heavily in Europe. Oddly enough, the use of novelty Chia Pet items in the 1980’s brought the chia seed back into the spotlight.

About a decade later scientist from North America and South America began working together to uncover the potential health benefits of the seed. It has taken off in a media storm of popularity and speculation since then, but is the seed really worth the money? Next we’ll look at what the chia seeds can do for the body.

Lots Of Nutrients With Very Few Calories

If you’re curious why everyone is so interested in the chia seed, all you need to do is take a look at what is found inside each one ounce serving. First, there are only 137 calories in this serving size and that is including the fiber. It also makes up a total of one gram of carbohydrates. Each serving of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, 9 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein.

5 of the 9 grams of fat are actually Omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for the body. This is one of the best ways to get high-quality Omega-3’s. It also contains around 1/3rd the daily recommended amount of manganese, phosphorus, and calcium, all of which help the body function properly.

omega 3Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, are believed to have numerous health benefits from losing weight to fighting depression. It’s even said to help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

It’s available in a lot of different foods, but most of them are fish. Chia seeds are the best way to get these acids outside of having tuna every night.

When you consider this high nutritional value, yet very low calorie count, you realize you may have your hands on a genuine superfood. Calorie-for-calorie, it’s one of the best sources of the nutrients above. However, nutrients aren’t the only thing packed inside chia seeds.

Packed Full Of Antioxidants

As if being packed full of nutrients wasn’t enough, chia seeds are loaded to the brim in antioxidants. They are there to protect the seeds themselves, but when ingested they help humans as well. Studies suggest that antioxidant supplements don’t work well for the body, but antioxidants derived naturally from foods can. The chia seed can compete with many other foods packed with antioxidants, such as the blueberry.

fruits and vegetablesIf you don’t already know, antioxidants are really essential for living a long, healthy life. They already appear abundantly in many fresh fruits and vegetables.

They fight toxins inside the body, primarily free radicals, which can wreak havoc and lead to many different diseases if left alone.

The human body itself creates these free radicals, but also naturally produces antioxidants to fight them. However, the body doesn’t usually do a good job with keeping the numbers even and the number of free radicals surpasses that of the antioxidants.

That means it’s up to you to find healthy sources of antioxidants to fight these free radicals. That’s where the chia seeds come into play. Add these to your daily routine and you greatly reduce the risk of developing different diseases and illnesses. On a side note, antioxidants are also great for improving your skin health, as are Omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are found in the chia seeds.

Can Chia Seeds Help You Lose Weight

One of the biggest points of discussion when it comes to the chia seed is whether or not it can help people lose weight. Everyone is always looking for the easiest way to lose weight or the the healthiest foods to add to their diet. Will chia seeds alone cause you to lose weight? No. Will adding chia seeds to your diet help you lose weight? Absolutely. Losing weight requires healthy eating and exercise.

chia seedsChia seeds are one of the healthiest foods out there and a great part of any diet. Many people consume chia seeds on a daily basis to assist their weight loss goals, but why?

Much of the reason has already been discussed above. The chia seeds are packed with nutrients and antioxidants that can assist the weightloss process. They also contain very few calories and carbohydrates in relation to the other nutrients.

When it comes to weight loss, the chia seed’s power come from its fiber. Technically, the seed contains 12 grams of carbohydrates, but 11 of those grams are pure fiber. That leaves one gram of digestible carbohydrates and 11 grams of healthy fiber. That’s right around 40 percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber.

The high fiber content allows a chia seed to absorb around 10 times its weight in water. This causes them to expand in the body, which makes you feel full for longer. This also reduces your calorie intake. At the same time, fiber fights harmful bacteria in the body that can lead to illnesses. The chia seed is about 14 percent protein if you’re going by weight alone.

That number is significantly higher than most other plants, even those high in protein. The protein is balance with other essential amino acids that allows the body to utilize the locked protein. Not only does protein help you lose weight, it can also help you build muscle. If you’re a vegetarian, then chia seeds are one of the best possible sources of protein available.

fiberProtein helps reduce the appetite and fiber helps you feel full for longer. Combine these two in the chia seed and you have yourself an effective weight loss tool.

High-protein diets are shown to reduce snacking by around 50 percent in some studies. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough studies on chia seeds alone to provide the world with concrete evidence.

That’s why it is up to you to use the seeds and make your own judgment with time. Just remember that chia seeds aren’t a weight loss supplement, but rather a healthy addition to your diet.

Are Chia Seeds A Superfood Or Superdud?

Compared to other foods that are surrounded in hype online, the chia seed is a beacon of hope among the confusion. Unlike some of these other foods, people have been utilizing the health benefits of chia for thousands of years. It wasn’t a recent decision or the idea of a crazy scientist. People have long understood and respected the chia seed.

Many people buy chia seeds in hopes of finding a miracle solution, whether it’s for weight loss or some other health problems. Unfortunately, it is not a miracle food. No such thing exists. You could say it is a “superfood”, but only because it’s packed with lots of healthy nutrients and very few bad ones. It can help fight away many diseases and illnesses as well, but not alone.

Chia SeedsAside from the benefits covered above, studies suggest that chia seeds can control certain blood markers, such as triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

There isn’t enough scientific data to say it is the chia seeds alone accomplishing this, but it is very likely. If anything, the chia seeds only problem is that there isn’t enough data to support all of the claims.

In this day and age research and studies are required to support claims to the public. In time, new studies will confirm some beliefs and perhaps debunk some others. There’s still no denying the chia seed is extremely healthy.

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