“Ch-ch-ch-chia” may be a familiar jingle if you grew up during the 1980s. Little did we know that those popular ceramic pets sprouting grass “hair” were a foretelling of the even greater success their seeds would have in edible form 25 years later. Chia seeds are often referred lớn as a “superfood” or functional food—unregulated terms more useful in the sale sphere than by nutrition experts who understand that there is no magic bullet or replacement for a healthful dietary pattern that relies on a variety of nutritious foods.

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Functional foods are touted to offer benefits beyond their nutritional value, such as lowering cholesterol or improving gut health. Not only listed as such, phân tách seeds are also used as a functional ingredient, added to lớn less nutritious items lượt thích baked pastries và snacks, khổng lồ improve their appeal to health-conscious consumers. Health claims about phân chia seeds include reducing appetite and weight, lowering triglycerides, and improving blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes.

Chia seeds come from the plant Salvia hispanica L., và were at one time a major food crop in Mexico & Guatemala. Cultivated as a food source as early as 3500 BC, it was offered khổng lồ Aztec gods in religious ceremonies. According khổng lồ industry reports, the phân chia seed market is projected khổng lồ reach more than 2 billion USD in sales by 2022. <1>

Source Of

Two tablespoons of phân tách seeds (1 ounce or 28 grams) contain about 140 calories, 4 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, 7 grams of unsaturated fat, 18% RDA for calcium, và trace minerals including zinc và copper. They are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Phân tách seeds are a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that cannot be made by the body. <2>

Chia Seeds & Health

Chia seeds contain several components that, when eaten as part of a balanced plant-rich diet, may prevent the development of various chronic diseases. Of particular interest by researchers is chia seeds’ high nội dung of alpha-linolenic (ALA) fatty acids. Sixty percent of the oil in phân tách seeds is from these omega-3 fatty acids. <2> However, available research has been more favorable towards a diet containing omega-3-rich foods rather than on phân tách seeds alone.

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In animal và human studies, omega-3 fatty acids have shown a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health (lowering cholesterol, regulating heart rhythms & blood pressure, preventing blood clots, decreasing inflammation). The fiber in phân chia seeds is mainly soluble fiber và mucilage, the substance responsible for the gluey texture of moistened phân chia seeds. These fibers may help khổng lồ lower LDL cholesterol and slow down digestion, which can prevent blood sugar spikes after eating a meal and promote a feeling of fullness.

A large Chinese cohort of more than 63,000 individuals found that those with the highest intakes of omega-3 fatty acids from seafood and plant sources had a 17% reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality compared with those who had the lowest intakes. <3> Few cohort studies include ALA plant sources of omega-3, but these oils are fairly common in the Asian diet. The Nurses’ Health Study found a 40% reduced risk of sudden cardiac death in women who ate the highest amounts of ALA. <4> The Cardiovascular Health Study cohort with more than 5000 men & women, ages 65 years and older, found a 1/2 lower risk of fatal ischemic heart disease with higher intakes of ALA. <5> Food sources of ALA in these studies included whole grains, cooking oils, legumes, & soy.

Animal studies have shown that chia seeds can beneficially affect cholesterol levels, weight loss, and increased satiety. <6> However, literature review and controlled trials in humans have not shown a specific benefit of chia seeds on cardiovascular risk factors including body toàn thân weight, blood pressure, lipid levels, blood sugar, and inflammation. <6-8> These findings affirm that phân chia seeds vì not act alone lớn benefit human health but may contribute khổng lồ disease prevention when incorporated as part of a varied plant-rich diet & other healthy lifestyle behaviors.

Purchase

People often wonder if phân chia seeds should be eaten ground instead of whole. The surface of phân tách seeds is delicate & easily breaks apart when exposed to lớn moisture, so they are typically prepared with liquid foods (as seen with the recipe ideas below). In this way, they are absorbed and digested well in their whole form, unlike flax seeds. If eating the seeds dry, choosing ground phân tách seeds may help lớn improve absorption.Chia seeds last for 4-5 years without refrigeration. Store in a cool, dry spot. 

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Make

Chia Gel: chia seeds absorb water quickly (up to 10 times their weight in liquid!). Place ¼ cup seeds in 1 cup liquid, stir well, and cover. Allow to lớn sit for about 15-20 minutes until the texture changes khổng lồ a soft gelatin. Store in refrigerator for up to lớn one week. Add to smoothies & soups to lớn boost nutrient value and create a thicker, more satisfying consistency.Chia Pudding: khổng lồ make a dessert variation, phối ¼ cup of seeds with one cup of liquid such as milk (almond, soy, or dairy all work) or 100% fruit juice. Allow to lớn sit for at least 15 minutes refrigerated. địa chỉ nuts, chopped fresh fruit, or cinnamon if desired.Chia Sprouts: Place phân chia seeds in a single layer (use only about a teaspoon to lớn allow enough space to grow) in a terracotta saucer or unglazed clay dish. Spray the seeds with water several times and cover with plastic wrap or a clear glass dish. Put in a sunny spot. Spray morning and evening until green sprouts appear, about 3-7 days. Use these microgreens to garnish salads và sandwiches. Egg Replacer: This may be used khổng lồ replace whole eggs in baking. For 1 whole egg, phối 1 tablespoon of whole chia seeds or 2 teaspoons ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water. Allow khổng lồ sit for at least 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens khổng lồ the consistency of a raw scrambled egg.

Serve

Chia seeds are a highly versatile ingredient. They have little if any distinctive flavor, so they don’t compete with other flavors in a dish. They also soften in the presence of liquid and become a less detectable texture. Commercially, they are added lớn cereals, crackers, beverages, breads, và other baked goods to lớn boost their nutritional value. Basically, phân tách seeds can be added as long as there is moisture khổng lồ hold the seed in place.

Sprinkle a few teaspoons into breakfast cereal (hot or cold) salads, soups, or stews.Stir into salad dressings, sauces, marinades, or cake/muffin/bread batter.Use chia gel as a thickener added khổng lồ smoothies, puddings, và soups (stir the gel into these foods after they are prepped or cooked).

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More recipe ideas and serving suggestions featuring phân tách seeds:

Did You Know?

Chia seeds come in black & white varieties, but there is no difference in nutritional content.There are a few rare cautions when eating phân chia seeds. A case report presented at the American College of Gastroenterology Annual Scientific Meeting in 2014 made headlines describing a patient who ate dry chia seeds followed by a glass of water. The seeds expanded in the esophagus và caused a blockage. Because they quickly swell after absorbing liquid, it is advised lớn eat phân chia seeds that have already been soaked in liquid or are served with a moist food, such as oatmeal or yogurt. Vị not eat dry phân tách seeds by themselves. People who have dysphagia, a condition that causes difficulty in swallowing (as was the case with this patient) or other digestive issues, should eat phân tách seeds with care.