Chia, with the scientific name Salvia hispanica, is a shrub native to Mexico that produces flat, oval seeds of approximately 2 millimeters in diameter, white or dark gray. These seeds were one of the staple foods of the Mayas. Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in the chia seed, as it represents a good source of omega-3 acids. Chia seed possesses a mucilage, which, when in contact with water, acquires physical characteristics beneficial to health.
The chia seed is valued mainly for its oil and especially for its content of omega 3 fatty acids. A daily intake of 12 grams of ground chia seed covers about 90 percent of an adult's omega-3 requirement.
Chia is considered that the consumption of ground chia seed for five months helps to maintain stable blood glucose levels, prevents the development of insulin resistance and the appearance of dyslipidemia, and reduces visceral fat. This last effect is because the omega acids in chia seeds block the action of specific enzymes that contribute to visceral lipogenesis.
Indeed, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA, have hypolipidemic effects, as they inhibit lipid synthesis and secretion. Thus, α-linolenic acid present in chia seed can be converted into long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid, specifically EPA in the liver.
This acid significantly increases the mRNA levels of several liver enzymes in charge of fatty acid oxidation, which reduces triglyceride synthesis, secretion, and creation of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins in the liver. In addition, it lowers blood cholesterol and brings HDL: LDL cholesterol to desirable levels.
Chia was one of the Mayans' staple foods. Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in chia, as it represents a good source of omega-3 acids.
The whole chia seed, when in contact with water, releases mucilage that results in a viscous product. Its consumption offers a sensation of gastric fullness, in addition to the fact that in the small intestine it increases the thickness of the water layer and decreases the absorption of glucose, lipids, and bile salts. Bacteria in the colon degrade the dietary fiber of this seed and generate short-chain fatty acids, which are proven to promote health.
The chia seed is rich in omega 3, which, together with its dietary fiber, has beneficial effects on various ailments. There is no scientific evidence that indicates negative health effects of this seed, but excessive consumption of chia seed may cause abdominal distension and diarrhea, although most of the adverse effects were the result of adulteration or poor quality of the seed. Nevertheless, more scientific evidence is needed to better understand the health effects of chia seed consumption.
Incredibly easy to prepare, just pour a little soy milk over the top and leave it overnight. It turns into a perfect pudding.
3 tablespoons chia seeds (30g).
1 cup soy milk (150 ml)
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 tablespoon chopped almonds
1-2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
In a bowl mix chia seeds, chopped almonds, honey, and soy milk. Cover the bowl and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning pour the pudding and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.