A little (literally) addition to most of my meals has now taken the form of two TINY ingredients: Chia and Flaxseed. Recommneded by a co-worker for reeving up my metabolism and reducing belly fat, I started to wonder if there was even MORE good stuff that these little additives contributed to my body.
Here’s what I found:
Ch-ch-ch-chia! The fuzzy green novelty items may be the first thing you think of when you hear the word chia, but these tiny superfood seeds are the reason Chia Pets get their lush coating. Nowadays, chia is becoming better known as a great source of healthy omega-3 fats and fibre, and fortunately it’s an easy food to add to your diet.
Chia seeds come from a flowering plant in the mint family that’s native to Mexico and Guatemala, and history suggests it was a very important food crop for the Aztecs. It’s remained in regular use in its native countries, but was largely unknown in North America until researcher Wayne Coates began studying chia as an alternative crop for farmers in northern Argentina about 29 years ago.
Coates started his work on chia in 1991, and since then has become an advocate of the tiny seed’s health benefits. The human trials are limited —as is often the case with food research— but the anecdotal evidence of chia’s positive health effects include boosting energy, stabilizing blood sugar, aiding digestion, and lowering cholesterol.
So once you’ve got your seeds, how to you add them to your diet? “The easiest way is to add it to everything and anything,” Coates says. The seeds are tasteless so they won’t affect the flavour profile of your food, which makes them easy to integrate into your meals. They can be sprinkled whole on top of salads or toast or added milled to smoothies, and Coates says that some of his customers even add them to ice cream. (And yes, you can even sprout it and eat it that way too!)
LOOK — 10 reasons to add chia seeds to your diet:
Chia is being studied as a potential natural treatment for type-2 diabetes because of its ability to slow down digestion. The gelatinous coating chia seeds develops when exposed to liquids-can also prevent blood sugar spikes.
Get More Fibre
Just a 28-gram or one-ounce serving of chia has 11 grams of dietary fibre — about a third of the recommended daily intake for adults. Adding some chia to your diet is an easy way to make sure you’re getting a good amount of fibre, which is important for digestive health.
Stock Up On Omega-3
Chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, with nearly five grams in a one-ounce serving. These fats are important for brain health. “There’s better conversion of omega 3s into the plasma or into the food than with flax seed,” said researcher Wayne Coates.
Stronger Teeth And Bones
A serving of chia seeds has 18 per cent of the recommended daily intake for calcium, which puts your well on your way to maintaining bone and oral health, and preventing osteoporosis.
Don’t Forget Manganese
Manganese isn’t a well-known nutrient, but it’s important for our health: it’s good for your bones and helps your body use other essential nutrients like biotin and thiamin. One serving of chia seeds, or 28 grams, has 30 per cent of your recommended intake of this mineral.
Plenty Of Phosphorus
With 27 per cent of your daily value for phosphorus, chia seeds also helps you maintain healthy bones and teeth. Phosphorus is also used by the body to synthesize protein for cell and tissue growth and repair.
Pack In The Protein
Chia seeds also make a great source of protein for vegetarians and don’t have any cholesterol. One 28-gram serving of these super seeds has 4.4 grams of protein, nearly 10 per cent of the daily value.
Fight Belly Fat
Chia’s stabilizing effect on blood sugar also fights insulin resistance which can be tied to an increase in belly fat, according to Live Strong. This type of resistance can also be harmful for your overall health.
Get Full. Faster
Tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey, is also found in chia seeds. While tryptophan is responsible for that strong urge to nap after a big Thanksgiving dinner for example, it also helps regulate appetite, sleep and improve mood.
Improve Heart Health
According to the Cleveland Clinic, chia seeds have been shown to improve blood pressure in diabetics, and may also increase healthy cholesterol while lowering total, LDL, and triglyceride cholesterol. All good news for your ticker!
Flaxseeds (also called linseeds) come from flax, one of the the oldest fiber crops in the world – known to have been cultivated in ancient Egypt and ancient China.
There are numerous health benefits associated with the consumption of flaxseed.
It’s not only a source of “good” fat, antioxidants, and fiber; modern research is beginning to find evidence to suggest that flaxseed can also help lower the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
In fact, consuming flaxseed for its benefits goes all the way back to the 8th century when King Charlemagne made his loyal subjects eat the seeds because he believed they were incredibly good for the health.
Flax was given the name Linum usitatissimum, which in Latin means “the most useful”.
Flaxseeds are rich in:
- Lignans – lignans are one of the major classes of phytoestrogens. They are estrogen-like chemical compounds with antioxidant qualities, able to scavenge free radicals in the body. Flaxseed is considered to be one of the best sources of lignans (0.3 g per 100g).
- Fiber – flaxseed is rich in both soluble fiber (which dissolves in water) and insoluble fiber (which does not dissolve in water). According to Mayo Clinic “soluble fiber dissolves with water and creates a gel-like substance that helps to lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels.” Whereas insoluble fiber “absorbs water which adds bulk to your digestive tract and helps to move things through quickly.”
- Omega-3 fatty acids – these are considered to be “good fats” that are beneficial for the heart. These essential acids are only obtainable by eating the right foods; the human body is not able to produce them.
Health benefits of Flaxseed
The therapeutic and beneficial properties of consuming flaxseed are not yet completely understood, and many claims still lack “high-quality” studies to back them up.
However, research is beginning to emerge suggesting that flaxseed might indeed be the “wonder food” many people claim it to be.
- Protecting against cancer – consuming flaxseed may help protect against prostate, colon, and breast cancers. Flaxseed is thought to prevent the growth of cancerous cells because its omega-3 fatty acids disrupt malignant cells from clinging onto other body cells. In addition, the lignans in flaxseed have antiangiogenic properties – they stop tumors from forming new blood vessels.
One U.S. study presented at the 43rd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) revealed that consuming flaxseed can stop prostate cancer tumors from growing. Dr Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, lead investigator of the study said that the team were “excited that this study showed that flaxseed is safe and associated with a protective effect on prostate cancer“.
- Lowering cholesterol – researchers at the Iowa State University’s Nutrition and Wellness Research Center found that cholesterol levels lowered among men who included flaxseed in their diet. Suzanne Hendrich, lead author of the study, said that for “people who can’t take something like Lipitor, this could at least give you some of that cholesterol-lowering benefit.”
- Preventing hot flashes – a study published in the Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology suggests that dietary intake of flaxseed can decrease the risk of hot flashes among postmenopausal women. “Not only does flaxseed seem to alleviate hot flashes, but it appears to have overall health and psychological benefits as well,” concluded Dr. Pruthi.
- Improving blood sugar – there is strong evidence to suggest that consuming flaxseed everyday improves glycemic control in obese men and women with pre-diabetes, according to a study published in Nutrition Research.
- Protecting against radiation – a diet of flaxseed may protect skin tissue from being damaged by radiation, revealed researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The investigators concluded that their “study demonstrates that dietary flaxseed, already known for its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, works as both a mitigator and protector against radiation pneumonopathy.”
You roll into Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s pick up two bags of these goodies, and then start throwing them on to EVERYTHING, putting them into EVERYTHING, eating them with EVERYTHING. I can’t promise that you’ll be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, that your skin will glow with an internal radiance, or you’ll lose 20 pounds…but SOMETHING(s) good will happen and that’s enough for me.