Chia Seeds

Nutrient and Active Compounds in Chia Seeds

Chia Seed Facts

There’s a reason chia seeds have become wildly popular in recent years. With a high nutrient-to-calorie ratio, chia seeds truly are a “superfood.”

Where Does the Chia Seed Come From?

Native to southern Mexico and Guatemala, legend has it the ancient Mayans and Aztecs used chia seeds for an energy boost. Chia is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.” After the Spanish conquest of Mexico, Spaniards banned foods (including chia seeds) that were linked to the Aztec religion or tradition. This virtually wiped out the complex agricultural systems that had been in place by the Aztecs to grow and harvest chia seeds and other foods.

Thankfully, chia seeds are enjoying a kind of renaissance today, with growing interest in this nutrient-packed food all over the world.

A rich source of brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are also loaded with antioxidants, which gives them a much longer shelf life than flax seeds. Plus, chia seeds don’t have to be ground in order for their nutrients to become available to the body—they can be eaten whole.

Chia Seed Nutrition

A 1-ounce (28 gram) serving of chia seeds contains:

  • Fiber: 11 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Fat: 9 grams (more than half of which are brain-boosting omega-3s)
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDA (calcium is important for strong bones, and it plays an important role in muscle contraction, among other functions)
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA (magnesium is important for regulating blood sugar levels, muscle and nerve function, and blood pressure, among other functions)

Chia seeds also have good amounts of manganese, phosphorus, zinc, some B vitamins, and potassium.

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The History of Chia Seeds

Chia Seed Health Benefits

Weight Control

In one study, patients who drank a beverage containing chia seeds for two months had reduced triglycerides and blood glucose, and they lost weight.1 The fiber and protein in chia seeds, as well as its gel-like structure, help you feel fuller longer, which may prevent snacking, overeating, and food cravings.

Blood Sugar Control

Chia seeds form a thick gel when soaked in water. This gel also forms in the stomach when chia seeds are eaten, which slows down the rate at which the body converts the carbohydrates in the seeds to sugar—this may help with blood sugar control in diabetics. In one study, patients with type 2 diabetes who supplemented their diet with chia seeds for 12 weeks saw reductions in their systolic blood pressure (upper number), as well as significant reductions in A1C, a measure of average blood glucose levels.2

Bone Health

Chia seeds are high in nutrients that are essential for bone health, including calcium, phosphorus (calcium needs phosphorus to strengthen bones), magnesium (which keeps calcium dissolved in the blood), and protein (which is important for bone mineral density).

These are just some of the many benefits of chia seeds, a true superfood. Santa Barbara Bar is pleased to incorporate nutrition-packed chia seeds into a selection of our nutrition bars!

Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22090467
  2. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/11/2804.long