Chia History of Health

Chia Flower used in Chia drinks from New ZealandThis is a Nelson grown  Salvia hispanica, also known as Chia. It is native to Mexico and was cultivated by the Aztecs and Mayans in pre-Columbian times. Historians suggest it was a staple food crop during this time, used as a medicine, oil, and as an offering in religious ceremonies.

Legend has it that an Aztec warrior could sustain himself for a day at battle on only a tablespoon of Chia seeds. The Spanish conquest almost wiped out Chia seeds as it became a banned food because of its use in Aztec religion and culture.

Richard and Elena Ussher win Abu Dhabi adventure race

Richard and Elena Ussher win Abu Dhabi adventure race

However, the hardy crop survived and was cultivated by the Tarahumara Indians of central Mexico. They were known for their ability to run a hundred kilometres a day as part of their lifestyle, sustaining themselves on Chia seeds. They are arguably the greatest endurance runners of all time. A book, recently written about them called “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, describes the drink made from Chia seeds, Iskiate or Chia Fresca, as an important part of the Tarahumara’s diet and how it contributes to their endurance in the desert.

Today, Chia seeds are growing in popularity with athletes and the nutritionally conscious are enjoying the energy and health that comes from CHIA.

Rich in Nutrients

CHIA contains Omega 3, complete protein with all essential amino acids, minerals, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese and zinc, antioxidants, fibre for cleansing and digestive health and slow release carbohydrates including amylose, a slow burning starch that provides a steady flow of energy without the sugar spikes.

Chia seeds are used to make healthy drinks.

Health Benefits of Omega 3

  • Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid, essential in that it is necessary for human health. We cannot make it ourselves so it has to be obtained through diet.

Chia seeds are one of the richest plant sources of Omega 3, higher than flax seeds with approximately one third of their weight being oil and 60% of that is Omega 3 or α-linolenic acid.

Flossie Van Dyke winning Gold.

Flossie takes Gold.

Interesting research on athletes has found Omega 3 Chia loading is comparable to high dietary carbohydrate loading several days before competition for increased muscle glycogen stores resulting in performance improvements in endurance events (90+ minutes) (i).

Sustainability

Omega 3 is essential to our health but it is important that our food choices are sustainable. Fish oil is often used for Omega 3 supplementation but with our oceans being depleted, we need to look at other options. Chia seeds are one of the richest sources of plant Omega 3 and can easily provide us with our recommended daily requirements of Omega 3.

Fish oil is in an EPA/DHA form while in chia seeds the conversion from Omega 3 to EPA/DHA occurs in the body. The argument for fish oil is that it is assimilated more easily because the conversion does not need to occur in the body.  A new line of thinking is that in the Omega 3 or plant form, we can convert the Omega 3 to DHA and EPA as needed; it also means that our bodies can improve their ability to perform the conversion.

CHIA is not recommended to replace any medications or claim to cure any illness. We support wellness through a healthy diet and believe in the nutrition of foods to assist in the prevention of disease.

Soluble Fibre

Soluble fibre allows the chia seeds to hold up to 10x its weight in water. A gel is formed around the seed that allows water to be held within the digestive system, until it is needed. It is by this mechanism that it is believed to prolong hydration and electrolyte balance, that sustained the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico to be able to run up to 100k through the canyons of Mexico. This unique gelling property also means that enzymes are slower at breaking down the complex carbohydrates, the conversion from carbohydrates to sugar is slowed, allowing for sustained energy without the sugar spikes.

Insoluble Fibre

  • Digestive Health

Insoluble fibre passes through the digestive system and assists in digestive regularity. It is an important part of a balanced diet.

Anti-oxidants

Chia seeds are a rich source of anti-oxidants. along with being good for you, it also means the good oils such as the Omega 3 found in CHIA are less likely to go rancid from oxidation which can occur in flaxseed oil. (ii)

During exercise, oxygen consumption increases and this in turn increases oxidant production that contributes to muscular fatigue during and after exercise.

Quercetin, one of the main anti-oxidants in CHIA has been shown to boost energy to the brain and muscles, as well as being anti-inflammatory.

Nutrient Rich

Chia seeds contain: Magnesium, iron, calcium, manganese, selenium, zinc, boron and potassium. The right foods are better than any multi-vitamin.

  • Magnesium: The ‘anti stress’ mineral and is essential for adrenal function; it also relaxes skeletal muscles and the smooth muscles of blood vessels. Magnesium aids in the body’s absorption of calcium and plays a key role in the strength and formation of bones and teeth. Magnesium is also vital for maintaining a healthy heart by stabilising heart rhythm and helping to prevent abnormal blood clotting.
  • Iron: Essential for the formation of haemoglobin, the oxygen carrying component of the red blood cell, muscle performance and strength.
  • Calcium: Essential for blood, nerves, muscles, tissues, regulation of heart and muscle contraction, nerve conduction and the development and maintenance of teeth and bones.
  • Manganese: Essential for enzyme systems, helps to catalyse many biochemical reactions, activates enzymes necessary for the body to use biotin, thiamine (B1), vitamin C and choline. Aids in digestion, utilisation of food especially proteins, synthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids.
  • Zinc: Essential for many enzyme systems, helps the liver detoxify alcohol, helps maintain the body’s level of Vitamin A, maintains healthy skin cells, important to male sex organ function and reproductive fluids, reduces incidence and severity of colds and other infections.
  • Potassium: Helps to regulate blood pressure, to keep the right balance of water in fat and muscle tissues and ensures the proper functioning of cells.

CHIA is not recommended to replace any medications or claim to cure any illness. We support wellness through a healthy diet and believe in the nutrition of foods to assist in the prevention of disease.

References:

 Norlaily Mohd Ali, 1 Swee Keong Yeap, 2 Wan Yong Ho, 1 Boon Kee Beh, 3 Sheau Wei Tan, 2 ,*and Soon Guan Tan 1. The Promising Future of Chia, Salvia hispanica L.. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology

(i)TRAVIS G. ILLIAN, JASON C. CASEY, AND PHILLIP A. BISHOP. OMEGA 3 CHIA SEED LOADING AS A MEANS OF CARBOHYDRATE LOADING.
Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, The University of Alabama, Auburn, Alabama.

[ii] W.J. BLAND, T.C. DINE, R.N. JOBANPUTRA AND G.G. SHONE
M. SILVIA TAGA, E.E. MILLER and D.E. PRATT. Chia Seeds as a Source of Natural Lipid Antioxidants. Department of Foods and Nutrition, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907