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The Benefits of Black and White Chia Seeds: Another key ingredient to longevity and the fountain of youth

Updated on January 8, 2018
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Copyright 2012 - Kris Heeter, Ph.D.


The first thought that comes to mind when one hears "chia" here in the United States are “Chia Pets” ™ – and if you are old enough, you may remember that quirky little “ch-ch-chi-chia” jingle that went with those Chia Pet commercials!

Chia Pets were very popular in the 70’s and 80's. They were sold as molded figures that had embedded chia seeds. When the “pet” was watered it grew into a decorative living statue for any room or office.

Who knew that you could eat your Chia Pet too?

Chia has come along way since those pop culture “pet” days.

Chia sprouts are edible and the seeds have recently started to make their way into mainstream U.S. food culture.


Chia History

Chia seeds come from the species Salvia hispanica, a member of the flowering mint family.

The seeds are very tiny and come in a variety of colors. The most popular variety is black, but white is fairly common and there are various shades of brown and speckled.

The color difference is based on the plant variety within the species.

The use of chia seeds dates back to the Aztecs of Mexico and the Indians of the Southwest of America. These tiny seeds were a part of their staple diet and often used as currency.

History has it that Aztec warriors ate a small handful of chia seeds to give them high energy during a conquest.


Are black chia seeds nutritional identical to white chia seeds?

In many respects, the answer is yes.

However, a recent report from the Nutritional Science Research Institute indicates that black chia seeds contain 12%-15% more antioxidants that the white seeds.

The more abundant antioxidants in chia are: quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin, chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid.

Quercetin is considered to be one of chia's most powerful antioxidants and it has been shown to significantly boost energy and endurance. Quercetin has specifically been shown to increase the supply of energy to brain and muscle cells.

Quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin are antioxidants that are thought to protect against heart disease, cerbrovascular disease, several different cancers (e.g., lung and prostate), Type 2 diabetes, and asthma.

Chlorogenic acid has also been found have anti-cancer properties.


Are chia seeds really an energizing "fountain of youth" that promote longevity and anti-aging?

While it’s been believed for centuries that the seeds have energizing effects, it’s only been recently that the factors that give an energizing effect have been unraveled.

New research places chia seeds as a superfood that can have positive effects on health. Many argue that chia seeds can promote longevity through what is believed to be their anti-aging nutritional properties.

One source of energy comes from the fact that chia seeds are 20% protein. The other energy source is related to the high antioxidant content.

The seeds contain a wide variety of antioxidants that can be easily absorbed when eaten. (Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds do not need to be ground up to release their nutrients and antioxidants.)

Antioxidants in recent years have been strongly correlated with anti-aging and cancer prevention. Recent research suggests that some classes antioxidants have properties can prevent the oxidation of cells.




6 Additional Benefits of Chia Seeds


1. Promotes Heart Health

The seeds contain very high amounts of essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). These fatty acids are linked to lowering blood pressure.


2. Stabilizes Blood Sugar

The soluble fiber in chia seeds help stabilize blood glucose levels.


3. Anti-Inflammatory Effects and Pain Relief

The high concentration of omega-3 helps to lubricate joints. This class of essential fatty acids can be converted into prostaglandins that are known to have anti-inflammatory effects.


4. Increased Metabolism

The essential fatty acids in these seeds can help to boost metabolism and promote lean muscle mass. Lean muscle and a higher metabolism can lead to weight loss with proper diet and exercise.


5. Detoxification

The fiber from the seeds helps absorb toxins and helps facilitate elimination from the body.


6. Improved Memory and Concentration

Research has shown that essential fatty acids can make cell membranes more flexible. This allows nutrients to become more readily available to the cells. In the brain, this translates to keeping the nerve cells healthy and allows for signals to transmit easily. This can increase memory and concentration.


Chocolatae Chia Pudding

Ways to Use Chia Seeds

Chia seeds can be used a variety of ways:

  • On salads
  • Used in smoothies
  • Ground and made into a paste or dip for crackers and veggies
  • Baked in breads
  • Added as a garnish to soups
  • Roasted on top of poultry
  • Mixed with granola and yogurt
  • Used to make puddings
  • Used as an oil or butter substitute



Additional References

The nutritional study done by the National Science Research Institute: http://www.nsrinews.com/nsriChia_research.html

Chia Seed as a Source of Oil, Polysaccharide, and Protein. Journal of Food Science. Volume 46, Issue 5, pages 1349–1350. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2621.1981.tb04171.x

Comments

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    • Kris Heeter profile imageAUTHOR

      Kris Heeter 

      6 years ago from Indiana

      @Bake Like a Pro - the chia seeds are fun. I like to sprinkle them on a salad and when at a gathering with friends or family it always provides a fun and interesting conversation piece..."what is that?" and then after explaining it often leads to someone singing the"chi chi chia" pet jingle.

    • Bake Like a Pro profile image

      Bake Like a Pro 

      6 years ago

      Very informative article Kris. My sister has been eating chia for months and keeps telling me to try it. She puts it in water like Chuck does. I guess after reading your article I am going to give it a try. Thank you.

    • Chuck Bluestein profile image

      Chuck Bluestein 

      7 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

      I like to put the chia seeds in a glass of water and let them sit in there for 15 minutes and then drink it. Also the following is kind of funny. Unlike other presidents, Obama has a bush. So they sell Chia Obama kits. He grows a head of chia hair.

    • Kris Heeter profile imageAUTHOR

      Kris Heeter 

      7 years ago from Indiana

      @roxanne459 - thanks, the two hubs go well together:) I used chia seeds this weekend for my Easter salad. Spinach, miniature orange slices, raspberry vinaigrette and then sprinkled the seeds on top. It was very tasty.

    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Super informative! It's hubs like this that will really get the word out there about all the benefits of the Chia Seed. I'm going to link it to mine so we can inform the people together! Voted up

    • Kris Heeter profile imageAUTHOR

      Kris Heeter 

      7 years ago from Indiana

      Thanks voting and sharing, Curiad :)

    • profile image

      Curiad 

      7 years ago

      Awesome information Kris! Thank you for sharing this. Voted Up and Shared!

    • Kris Heeter profile imageAUTHOR

      Kris Heeter 

      7 years ago from Indiana

      @valleyforge84 - I do know that you can buy organic black chia seeds. And it sounds like, from the video, that the seeds coming out of Australia are at least sustainable grown with minimum pesticides used if any at all.

    • valleyforge84 profile image

      valleyforge84 

      7 years ago

      Wow! I didn't know this! I am an organic-food loving vegetarian who is always interested in natural ways to live better thanks for sharing! voted up

    • Kris Heeter profile imageAUTHOR

      Kris Heeter 

      7 years ago from Indiana

      @ltakins - thanks for stopping by. I just recently started seeing them at our local food co-op and have been enjoying them on salads.

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 

      7 years ago from Irl

      Brilliant - I only heard about chia seeds recently - they are a real superfood.Thank you for sharing this really useful information.

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