History of Chia Seeds
Do you believe in the seed fairy? If not, you are about to become convinced that she exists as the chia seed could stop you from eating all your willpower and help you to lose weight. Chia seeds have graced the world with their presence for many centuries. Historians trace them back to the 16th century where they were grown by the Aztecs and used in a similar way to maize. Chia seeds were very useful crops as they stored well and were pleasant to eat on their own or blended into other foods. People in South West America and Mexico still use them today as a healthy nutritional drink or food source. They are cultivated from their native hometown of Mexico but also flourish on the fertile soil of Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Guatemala. Australia is now their largest producer.
The Aztecs spoke a language called Nahuatl. They named this annual growing herb (part of the mint family) as ‘strong’ due to the fact that one frail little seed is nothing spectacular to look at but the sum parts of the whole equate to a mighty punch of healthy nutrition. In Nahuatl ‘strong’ is translated as ‘chia’. Just one tablespoon of chia seeds provides a cocktail of goodness which could help to lengthen your life but shorten your meals.
How Chia Seeds Grow
The herb grows a sturdy 5.7ft (1.75m) tall with green leaves and purple or white flowers which form a spiky cluster at the end of each stem. The goodness is found in the seeds which act as tiny powerhouses of nutritional goodness for those who want to lose weight or maintain a current size. When used in conjunction with a calorie controlled diet these tiny edible organisms, 1mm in diameter could help you to synch an inch or two. They are white, red or black in colour but the black and white seeds are the best. The red ones are immature and the small black ones are considered weed seeds.
What’s in a Chia Seed?
Let’s take a look at the marvels which lie within just one tablespoon (14g):
– 5.5 grams of fiber
– 5 grams of omega- 3 fatty acids (2.5 of these are omega 3 fatty acids)
– 2 grams of protein
– 9 per cent (RDA) of calcium
– 15 per cent (RDA) of manganese
– 15 per cent (RDA) of magnesium
– 15 per cent (RDA) of phosphorous
– Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
– Vitamin B2, (Potassium)
– Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
– Low carbohydrates
Chia Seeds Help You Lose Weight
One tablespoon of chia seeds (14g) weighs in at just 70 calories. Their true carb content is only 20 calories per 14 grams, which is very low. Add chia seeds to vegetables, sauces, drinks, casseroles and soups to make dieting a piece of cake. When chewed they release a mild, nutty flavour which is delicate in taste. The seeds are hydrophilic which means that they can absorb up to twelve times their weight in liquid. When ingested they convert to a gel-like substance in the tummy which expands to create a feeling of fullness.
Chia Suppresses Hunger
The body digests chia seeds very slowly, keeping hunger at bay. Considering the fact that chia seeds contain 40% fibre by weight, you can imagine the impact that one to two tablespoons can have on the appetite. Consumed at breakfast time, we are less likely to indulge in high calorie meals for lunch and more likely to choose something light and healthy. Combine this with the calories that we burn throughout the day and it is easy to see how we could drop a clothes size or two. Fibre can only be obtained from plant based foods so people who are attracted to the carrots in diamond jewellery rather than the carrots on the grocery shelf will find that taking chia seeds is a more pleasant way to add fibre to the diet. Having said that, it should be noted that the body may take a while to adjust to chia seeds. Some people suffer from flatulence (wind) when first introducing them to the diet. To combat those stomach cramps chia should be introduced slowly, it is also sensible to drink plenty of water.
By weight chia seeds contain around 14% protein, a macronutrient vital for winnowing the waistline. The moment you swallow a protein based food the effects start to kick in immediately. Proteins take longer for the body to break down which means that we burn calories whilst they are being metabolized. They also take longer to leave the stomach which creates that ‘feeling fuller for longer’ sensation. In a recent study, dieters who increased their intake of protein by 30% found that they ate 450 less calories per day in comparison to those who kept their intake quite low. Protein helps a dieter lose fat, not muscle. In fact it helps to strengthen muscles in order to create a lean, toned look. It also keeps the metabolism running smoothly in the background so as the odd chocolate hob nob can be burned off quickly! In comparison to wheat or rice, chia seeds have twice the concentration of protein. If you no longer want to crave high calorie foods, the protein in chia seeds will satisfy you enough to say “yes” to skinny tops and “no” to fish and chips. For vegetarians and vegans, they provide the goodness which would normally be obtained from dairy and meat.
One tablespoon of chia seeds contains 9% calcium which is five times higher than other grains. They are particularly beneficial for women over the age of 40 as ladies in this age bracket are prone to adding on between ¼ pound to 1/2 pound in weight per year. All these extra inches are concentrated around the waistline. Those who increase the amount of calcium in their calorie controlled diet may stop this process from continuing. The more calcium that is added to the cells, the faster the fat is burned off and the weight reduced. Those who rarely consume calcium rich foods could gain an average of 1 pound in weight per year. Granted they will be able to say that they are in shape but the shape will probably be round!
Those of us determined to shed some extra pounds will most likely steer clear of any foods which contain fat. However, omega 3 fatty acids are essential for burning off calories. Chia seeds are rich in a botanical version and act as a dieter’s greatest ally rather than enemy. This is great news for people who stick to their recommended daily intake of calories or consume less than their daily intake. Used this way, omega 3 fatty acids provide a good source of energy to burn fat rather than add it on…perfect for those on a gluten free diet. They also stimulate the brain to make it feel ‘happier’. When we are in this frame of mind we are more likely to go for a jog after work and prove that dieting really can be a ‘walk in the park’. That feeling of contentment stops us from reaching for comfort in the form of chocolate or crisps. Chia seeds provide the equivalent energy that a sugar drenched drink can provide but without any of the high glucose content. The scientific name for these weight busters is “long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids” Unsaturated fats are the good ones but as with any fat you do not want to overload the body. The best way to get the balance right is to obtain omega 3 fatty acids from a supplement such as chia seeds.
Cortisol is often called the stress chemical. When a person is constantly running on fight or flight mode this chemical could force a metabolic shutdown. This will cause the body to hold onto all its resources including fats. The magnesium in chia seeds acts as a chemical counsellor and works on reducing the effects of stress so as the metabolism can function normally. Surprisingly enough there are many weight loss supplements which are low or completely deficient in manganese. Thankfully, Chia seeds are rich in this mineral.
Zinc has been strongly linked to weight loss especially amongst the obese. Chia seeds have a healthy source of zinc which is said to silence that hunger monster which lurks inside. This could be due to its manipulation of the ghrelin hormone, the one which satisfies that little voice which is always keen to tell us when it is hungry. The zinc found in chia seeds will stop you from having those intimate dinners for two when you are the only one present. Lack of this nutrient will encourage the body to store fat rather than burn it.
Chia is loaded with antioxidants, yes the vitamin gods who stop toxins in their track so as they cannot cause damage to the health. We put toxins into our body whenever we smoke, drink alcohol, become stressed or eat junk food. When hormones enter cells, their primary aim is to put goodness into them so as they can function correctly. However, fat soluble toxins can sometimes reach the cells before hormones do. When this happens, they overtake them and force them to multiply. Antioxidants have the power to face those fat soluble toxins head on and convert them into harmless molecules and thus stop us from piling on the pounds and feeling sluggish.
Chia seeds could almost be considered a one stop shop for health and vitality. Just one serving per day could be all that is needed. A daily dose of chia seeds could help prevent vitamin or mineral deficiency. These little seeds could be proof that weight loss does not have to be a case of wishful shrinking. It is something which is entirely possible when combined with a calorie controlled diet and exercise regime. Stop digging your grave with your knife and fork and look forward to a healthier, leaner future by allowing chia seeds to assist you with your weight loss success!
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