Do you remember the little chia pet commercials with the catchy theme song back in the 1990s? Well, the seeds that were used to grow grass afros on Homer Simpson and Scooby Doo are actually the same seeds used by many health enthusiasts today.
Chi-chi-chi-chia seeds have become extremely popular in the health and wellness world. These nutrient-dense seeds pack a punch of energy-boosting power. Aztec warriors even ate chia seeds to give them energy and endurance. Today, they are considered one of the most beneficial superfoods on the planet.
Botanical Name and Family of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are botanically known as Salvia hispanica. They belong to the Labiatae or Mint family and are referred to as Chia.
What Are Chia Seeds?
Chia is an edible seed derived from the desert flowering plant that belongs to the same species as mint. Native to South America, especially Guatemala and Mexico, these seeds have grown in Mexico dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures.
The seeds are a black or brown oval shape and whether in whole or ground form, they are considered a nutritious food and are often made into health drinks.
Chia means “strength” in the Mayan language, and chia seeds were known as “runners’ food” because runners and warriors would use them as fuel while running long distances or during battle.
Fast-forward a couple of decades, and the seeds from the same chia plant are being sold online and in health food stores to help promote weight loss.
Active Ingredients Found in Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, myricetin, quercetin, caffeic acid, kaempferol and dietary fiber.
Chia seeds also contain the following minerals including:
They also contain a decent amount of zinc, vitamin B3 (niacin), potassium, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B2.
Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Traditionally, chia seeds were used as an energy booster and recent research indicates the value of this belief because the seeds are a powerhouse of healthy phytoconstituents. The seeds swell in water and this tends to have a filling effect, which is believed to make it useful for those seeking to lose weight.
Chia seeds have also been used for:
- Skin health
- Digestive health
- Heart health
- Building muscles
- Bone and joint health
- Dental health
- Support cognitive function
- Cancer prevention
Studies seem to indicate that chia seeds are effective against cardiovascular problems, some allergic conditions and cancers. These effects may be linked to its antioxidant and anticoagulant properties.
How to Use Chia Seeds
Chia seeds can be added to breakfast cereals, smoothies, bread and energy bars. A little goes a long way, so all you need is about 1 tablespoon per serving.
Side Effects of Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are generally safe for use. However, they have been found to increase the risk of bleeding especially for those on anticoagulant or aspirin therapy. Make sure you talk to your doctor before consuming chia seeds to ensure that doing so will be beneficial for you.
The content of this Website is for informational purposes only, is general in nature and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and does not constitute professional advice. The information on this Website should not be considered as complete and does not cover all diseases, ailments, physical conditions, or their treatment. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise, weight loss, or health care program and/or any of the beauty treatments.
Ulbricht C, Chao W, Nummy K, Rusie E, Tanguay-Colucci S, Iannuzzi CM, Plammoottil JB, Varghese M, Weissner W. Chia (Salvia hispanica): A systematic review by the natural standard research collaboration. Rev Recent Clin Trials.2009 Sep;4(3):168-74. PubMed PMID: 20028328.
Ali NM, Yeap SK, Ho WY, Beh BK, Tan SW, Tan SG. The Promising Future of Chia, Salvia hispanica L. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology. 2012 , Article ID 171956, 9 pages.