Chia seeds have been considered a superfood for a few months. The small grains are in demand like never before. Due to their high nutrient content, chia seeds are exceptionally healthy and make you fit. But what is it about these seeds?
So far, no long-term studies demonstrate meaningful effectiveness or damage to human health from chia seeds. Small studies only proved that chia seeds could regulate blood pressure or lower high blood pressure. The healthy ingredients of the origin are undisputed.
What is Chia Seed?
Chia seed is the seed of the chia plant ( Salvia Hispanic ) from the genus of sage plants from Guatemala and Mexico. The Aztecs and Mayas already consumed the black or gray grains and swore their healing effects as early as 5,000 years ago. The plant itself was brought to Europe from Spain in the 15th century. After that, the chia plant fell into oblivion again – until it came up again in 2009.
The chia plant is considered a pseudo-grain, i.e., it is not a grain but can be used as a grain. Since chia cannot bake itself, it cannot be used as a pure baking ingredient but only as an addition. Bread dough made from chia seeds would spread out and not take on a solid shape.
According to the European food regulation, chia seeds are classified as a novel food, i.e., the seed has not yet been sufficiently researched. For this reason, there are currently limitations. Pure chia seeds may only been imported as pure chia seeds since 2013. The hype in America prompted the Food Safety Authority to test chia seeds. Due to the lack of long-term studies, maximum consumption of 15 grams per day is currently recommended. Bread products may only contain 10% chia seeds. According to experts, a small amount should hardly affect the human organism.
What is unique about chia seeds?
Chia seeds are packed with healthy ingredients, including polyunsaturated fatty acids. The seeds contain up to 40% fat – including omega-3 – and omega-6 acids. These acids are otherwise only found in fatty fish.
The high protein content is also striking. Chia seeds contain up to 20% protein. There are around 34 grams of dietary fiber in 100 grams. Chia seeds also contain many minerals (phosphorus, calcium, magnesium) and vitamins (niacin, vitamins A and C). That is why the seed is generally rated as a healthy diet. However, the beneficial effect is relatively low due to the consumption recommendation.
How does the seed work?
Owning chia seeds is said to help with some health problems. So the source seems very good against heartburn. The heartburn stays away.
- The swelling effect also seems to support weight loss. The swollen seed keeps you full and prevents food cravings. At the same time, cell breakdown is supported.
- Cholesterol levels also benefit from the seeds. Due to the high content of omega-3 fatty acids, cholesterol metabolism is positively influenced, calcification of the arteries is avoided, and strokes and heart attacks are prevented.
- Chia seeds are also very suitable for people with gluten intolerance. Due to the lack of gluten, chia seeds can act as a substitute.
- The seed also has a positive effect on underactive or overactive thyroid glands. The trace elements zinc and selenium naturally regulate the function of the thyroid gland. In addition, the intestine is sanitized.
How can chia seeds be taken?
Chia seeds can be consumed in a variety of ways. If you bake your bread, you can use chia seeds as an ingredient. The seed also cuts a fine figure in soups, salads, and muesli due to its neutral taste.
If chia seeds are swollen in water, the seeds can also be used as a substitute for eggs or as a gelling agent in sauces and puddings. Raw intake with a glass of water is also possible.
Chia seeds are expensive – now what?
For chia seeds, sums of up to 40 euros per kilogram have to be paid in Germany. These are prices that are not sustainable in the long run. Flax has almost the same nutrient content and swelling properties as chia seeds but only costs around four euros per kilogram. In addition, walnuts can be eaten to achieve the same nutritional value as chia seeds.
Chia seed studies
There are now several studies on the effectiveness of chia seeds. A study was published in 2009 that showed that chia seeds could lower cholesterol and blood lipids.
On the other hand, the theory that chia seeds would support weight loss was disproved. A study by Appalachian State University states that weight loss does not result from ingestion alone. Chia seeds only support diets as a dietary supplement, as they induce a quick feeling of satiety.
A study from 2005 proved the preventive effect of chia seeds on cardiovascular diseases. It also proved its good effectiveness for athletes.