They are rich in calcium, vitamin C and omega 3, but above all they are useful for the health of the intestine and nervous system. Chia seeds, rich in properties and nutritional values, are small seeds obtained from a plant called Hispanic Sage and contain many mineral salts, vitamins and fatty acids. A doctor from Humanitas explains how and why to use it to improve the health of our intestines. We talk about this topic with Dr. Katia Naibo, nutritional biologist at Humanitas St. Pio X.
The Aztec origins of the “strong seed”
The word “chia” in Aztec means “force”. This plant is cultivated in the areas of Mexico and Guatemala and its precious seeds are utilized since the most ancient times in Central and South America, where they still provide an important alimentary base. In Europe chia comes in relatively recent times as a new fashion but the nutritional virtues of these seeds are now increasingly known and used in the old continent.
The main nutrients of chia seeds: a source of calcium
Chia seeds have a high content of calcium and other minerals such as selenium, zinc, magnesium, iron and potassium, but also vitamin C, B6, B12, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin and omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (such as flaxseed). A handful of 100 grams contains 486 calories.
These small dark seeds also contain 5 times the calcium contained in milk and are perfect with sesame seeds. Among the minerals within this small but powerful nutrient, a concentrate of strength and energy, are iron, potassium, selenium, zinc, boron, molybdenum and magnesium.
Finally, they represent an important source of natural antioxidants and amino acids, essential for the formation of proteins, such as cysteine, lysine, and methionine.
Actions on the organism
Chia seeds have a balancing action for the body, they help to contain blood sugar levels, cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. Last but not least, the laxative properties help to keep the intestine clean and healthy, making it possible to use it even for those suffering from celiac disease or intolerances (they do not contain gluten). Due to their high nutritional power, these foods are ideal for those who want to lose weight. Among their properties there is a strong hydrophilicity: chia seeds can absorb liquids, up to 10 times their weight and, in addition to providing nutrients and energy, also give a sense of satiety. Benefits for the walls of the intestine, can help to limit bacterial infections and improve the activities of the central nervous system. Finally, they facilitate digestion and are excellent in the kitchen.
“In general, the seeds are important in our daily diet because they provide energy, are oily (except pomegranate), and are ideal for breakfast, to start the day on the right foot, but also mid-morning or mid-afternoon, when we need a little ‘charge to continue the day – explained Dr. Naibo. It is good not to exaggerate with their consumption, also because the calorie intake of the seeds is important, but if you are in good health and there are no contraindications, you can eat up to 20 grams a day.
As an infusion, lightly toasted, together with other spices or energy drinks
Raw, about one tablespoon a day with a glass of water, as a natural supplement
To enrich salads with fresh vegetables, but also quinoa, millet, barley
To enrich vegan or plant-based meatballs
In yoghurt, milk and cereals, together with muesli for breakfast
In the preparation of dough such as bread, focaccia, pies, whether in the form of seeds or flour
As gelatin or thickener: leaving the seeds to soak for about half an hour in half a glass of water and you will see the formation of a kind of plant gelatin that is very versatile in cooking and that brings considerable benefits to the digestive system. It can be used as a thickener in soups, sauces, sweets or smoothies.