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Fit 4 Life | Chia: Plant the seeds of health

Published:Wednesday | November 14, 2018 | 12:18 AMMarvin Gordon/Contributor
Chia seeds are something of a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition.

 

These days, it seems the 'superfood' label is thrown at anything you can consume: 'Eat this food to lose weight', 'Eat that one to live to 150'...and the list grows on.

While the chia seed has been victim to this 'superfood' marketing ploy, it does have some great nutritional benefits.

Most commonly, chia is touted as a weight-loss remedy. Few studies have been done, but this limited research has thus far turned up no evidence of any significant weight-loss benefit to consuming chia seeds.

A better approach to weight loss is maintaining a caloric deficit, while consuming a healthy, balanced mix of foods.

That doesn't, however, mean you should throw out your chia seeds. The fact is that chia seeds are something of a powerhouse when it comes to nutrition. They are an unprocessed, nutrient-dense food that can be eaten raw or added to numerous recipes for a healthy meal.

Chia seeds are:

RICH IN FIBRE

A serving of chia seed contains about 12 grams of carbohydrates, of which roughly 11 grams is fibre. That is more than 30 per cent of the recommended daily fibre intake for adults. Fibre has a range of health benefits; from cholesterol control to blood sugar management.

A SOURCE OF HEALTHY FATS

Chia seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are necessary for normal body function and have been shown by numerous studies to deliver massive health benefits.

A HEALTHY DOSE OF PROTEIN

A serving of chia seed contains 4 grams of protein. That might not seem like a lot, but it is the quality of the protein that is impressive. When it comes to proteins, our bodies need 22 amino acids, nine of which are considered essential. Chia seed proteins contain 18 amino acids, including all of the essential amino acids.

A MICRO-NUTRIENT RESERVOIR

Another area where chia seeds shine is in micro-nutrient content. They contain a host of vitamins and minerals, including calcium, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper.

PACKED WITH ANTIOXIDANTS

Chia also contains antioxidants, which may reduce the risk of certain cancers.

RISK FACTORS

Chia seeds are high in fibre and excessive intake could result in issues such as abdominal pain, constipation, gas and bloating.

Chia seeds also have a somewhat unique property of absorbing massive amounts of water and swelling up. This could cause them to become lodged in the throat, creating a risk of choking.

To avoid these issues, chia consumption should be limited to about a serving a day and chia seeds should be soaked before they are eaten.

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email: marvin.gordon@physiqueandfunction.com; yourhealth@gleanerjm.com