Chia seed is a versatile and nutrient-rich food that is gluten-free, subtle in flavour and easily digested. Its rich nutritional profile makes it a valuable addition to any diet, including vegetarians and vegans. People who are already on a healthy diet can still benefit from chia’s high Omega-3 content.
Chia seeds contain oil amounts varying between 32-39%, with the oil offering the highest natural percentage of Omega-3 essential fatty acid known to man (60-64%). In contrast, soybean oil and canola oil contain less than 10% of this essential Omega-3 fatty acid. Chia seeds are a very rich source of Omega-3 EFA.
Chia seeds also are rich in the beneficial long-chain triglycerides that help maintain the proper wall flexibility of cells and restore the proper cholesterol / triglyceride ratio. Your body converts the alpha-linolenic Omega-3 of chia into DHA and EPA fatty acids like those found in fish oil.
|NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION – CHIA SEEDS|
|Avg qnty per 100 g||Australian-grown seeds||South American seeds|
|Energy||1960 kj||1553 kj|
|Cholesterol||<1.0 g||<1.0 g|
|Sodium||<1.0 g||<1.0 g|
|Fat, total||31.4 g||31.5 g|
|Saturated||3.1 g||3.2 g|
|Trans-Fatty Acid||0.1 g||0 mg|
|Omega 3 ALA||17.5 g||19.8 g|
|Omega 6 LA||7.1 g||5.8 g|
|Omega 9||3.3 g||(not tested)|
|Monounsaturated||1.9 g||2.5 g|
|Protein||15.6 g||21.1 g|
|Carbohydrate, total||43.6 g||42.1 g|
|Sugars||<1.0 g||<1.0 g|
|Fibre||36.0 g||41.2 g|
|Cobalamin (vit. B12)||90 ng||(not tested)|
|Calcium||500 mg||556 mg|
|Phosphorus||600 mg||750 mg|
|Magnesium||290 mg||326 mg|
|Potassium||500 mg||666 mg|
|Iron||6.5 mg||6.27 mg|
|Niacin (B3)||(not tested)||5.97 mg|
|Riboflavin (B2)||0.12 mg|
|Thiamine (B1)||0.21 mg|
All figures are samples only, and subject to variation according to season and growing location. Updated November 2011.
Chia seeds are powerful source of the antioxidants chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid as well as myricetin, quercetin and kaempferol flavonols that protect delicate essential fatty acids from oxidation. Unlike other sources of Omega-3 oils (e.g., flax, hemp, or fish), chia doesn’t require refrigeration or the artificial or natural added antioxidants such as vitamins in order to remain fresh.
Chia has 19 to 23% protein content, more than that found in traditional cereals such as wheat (13.7%), corn (9.4%), rice (6.5%), oatmeal (16.9%) and barley (12.5%). Chia’s protein is complete with all essential amino acids and is gluten-free.
“Chia has three times more iron than spinach”
Chia seeds are easily digested and they absorb more than 9 times their weight in water. When the seeds are mixed with water they form a gel and researchers believe this gel-forming happens in the stomach. When chia seeds are eaten they slowly release carbohydrates and slow conversion of carbs into glucose (blood sugar) for energy. The outer part of the seed is very rich in soluble fibre and this forms the gel, protecting the seed from drying out.
The gel forms a physical barrier between the carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down. The carbohydrates are digested eventually, but at a slow and uniform rate. There is no insulin surge or spike needed to lower the blood sugar level after eating chia. The water-retaining ability of the gel also helps level out the water intake and retains electrolyte balance.
Chia seeds contain around 6 times more calcium than milk by weight (550-700 mg in 100 g of chia compared to 120 mg in 100 g milk) and chia’s calcium is more readily absorbed by the body than milk. It’s also an excellent source of certain minerals, notably phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and copper. Chia has three times more iron than spinach, and fifteen times more magnesium than broccoli.