Chia – The Super Seed

By: Callie Pillsbury on Jul 19, 2017

Chia seeds are becoming a huge part of the health food scene. Food products such as peanut butter, granola bars, smoothies, and yogurts are products marketed with added chia seeds to gain consumer attention.

BACKGROUND OF CHIA SEEDS  

Chia seeds are cultivated in Mexico and Guatemala. They are a mixture of white and  black seeds with a small, round appearance.  Chia seeds were once a staple food for the Aztecs and Mayans. Actually, in the Mayan language, the word chia means “strength.” Chia seeds kept these groups feeling full and provided them with energy.  Among the Mayans, chia seeds were also known as a “runner’s food” because it allowed the warriors to run long distances throughout battle (1).

At first look, chia seeds have a hard appearance. However, when submersed in water, chia seeds chia-raspberry-beverage-photo.jpgabsorb 9X their weight! This gives chia seeds a unique gel texture. The ability of chia seeds to form a gel is useful in the food industry as a thickener. For example, chia seeds can in incorporated into soups for thickening or as egg replacers. They can also be used as fat replacers since they hydrate and give viscosity to baked products.

7 BENEFITS OF CHIA SEEDS

1. Nutrient dense.

Chia seeds are packed with an assortment of nutrients.  Some of these include fiber, omega 3s, omega 6s, protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, and antioxidants. These nutrients make chia seeds a functional superfood. One tablespoon of chia seeds is 138 calories of pure health.

2. Fiber

Chia seeds are a good source of fiber. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds provide 10 grams of fiber!  Fiber promotes digestion and heart health. Chia seeds have a mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber.

3. Healthy Fats

Chia seeds are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids. About 60% of fats are from omega 3 fatty acids and 20 % are from omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are associated with heart health and anti-inflammatory effects. Omega 6 fatty acids are responsible for the transport and breakdown of cholesterol.  

4. Protein

Chia seeds have a protein content of 15-25%. The protein in chia seeds give the feeling of satiety which can decrease food intake.

5. Minerals

Chia seeds are loaded with minerals. The most abundant minerals include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese.  All of these minerals are important in bone health.

Calcium is essential for growth and maintenance of the bones. Just two ounces of chia seeds gives you as much calcium as a glass of milk!  

Magnesium is involved in a myriad of different biochemical reactions in the body. Some of these reactions include maintenance of muscle and nerve function, aids in immunity, and bone strength.

Phosphorus is important for bone health and maintenance of tissues

Manganese plays a role in growth, development, and can increase metabolism.

Mineral

Amount (mg)

DV (%)

Calcium

177 mg

15%

Magnesium

95 mg

17%

Phosphorous

265 mg

27%

Manganese

0.6 mg

30%

6. Antioxidants

Chia seeds are packed with powerful antioxidants. Some antioxidants in chia sees are chlorogenic acid, quercetin, and kaempferol. The role of antioxidants involves inhibiting the destruction of free radicals in the body (2).  

7. Easy to use!

chia-seed-milk-photo.jpgChia seeds have little to no flavor so they adapt to the flavor of the food being used. This allows chia seeds to be added to a variety of foods.  

Some easy ways to use chia seeds:

  • Topping on your yogurt, smoothies, or oatmeal
  • Add to a cup of tea
  • Mix into baked goods like cakes and muffins!

CHIA SEEDS AND SPRAY DRYING

The oil in chia seeds can be extracted and spray dried into a powder. This powder can easily be incorporated into many foods. Using spray dried chia seed oil can turn finished foods into functional superfoods!

Learn More

To learn more about Spray Drying visit our website.


References 

  1. Chia Seed History and Origin — AncientGrains.com. (2015, March 19). Retrieved June 1, 2017, from http://www.ancientgrains.com/chia-seed-history-and-origin/
  1. Nichols, H. (2016, January 20). 16 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Chia Seeds. Retrieved June 1, 2017, from http://www.well-beingsecrets.com/benefits-of-chia-seeds/