Before describing Chia seeds, it is important to explain the functions of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)
The EFAs, and most of all the Omega-3 reduce the likelihood of coronary disease: they help to normalize high blood pressure; they reduce the level of cholesterol; they protect the heart against the damage caused by heart attacks, they play a fundamental role in the improvement of the nervous and immune systems; they help the healthy development of pregnancy and child growth.
Chia seeds are the vegetable source with the highest Omega-3 concentration. They contain 33% of oil, 62% of which corresponds to linolenic acid (Omega-3) and 20% to linoleic acid (Omega-6). Chia is the crop with the highest percentage of Essential Fatty Acids, as 82% of its lipids bear that characteristic.
It has plenty of antioxidants which, besides constituting a healthy dietary and therapeutic contribution, are good for the preservation of oil. Antioxidants, besides protecting fatty acids, protect us from tumors, heart disease, inflammations, viruses and they combat the free radicals that are so abundant in aging processes.
Chia is gluten-free and therefore, it can be eaten by people with celiac disease.
It is a good source of vitamin B. The lack of vitamin B is one of the factors that increase homocysteine level in the bloodstream. This favors the formation of platelet deposits in arterial walls thus increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
As far as its mineral content is concerned, Chia also stands out: it contains 714 mg of calcium in a whole seed and 1,180 mg in partially skimmed seeds (milled seeds). Just to give you an idea, milk only has 125 mg, that is to say, between 6 and 10 times less. It is very rich in magnesium, potassium and phosphorus – all these minerals are synergic to calcium.
Chia also contains dietary minerals. It is a good source of iron (16.4 mg), and this figure goes up to 20.4 mg in the case of flour and it almost triples the iron content of beef liver. Chia also has high zinc and manganese content whereas its sodium content is very low.
Another advantage of Chia is its high quality fiber content, mainly of soluble fiber (mucilages). This kind of fiber delays the glucose index in the bloodstream and reduces cholesterol absorption.
And last but not least, it contains flavonoids that are powerful antioxidants which avoid the free radical harmful effects and the subsequent cell deterioration in your body. It prevents capillary fragility by improving capillary resistance, so they are adequate to prevent bleeding.
To sum up, chia seeds have the following beneficial effects: antioxidant, antiplatelet, antiinflammatory, antimutagenic, anticarcinogenic, antiviral, laxative, hypotensive, hypocholesterolemic, hypoglycaemic, and immunostimulant. Chia seeds also work as a cardiac and nervous tonic, and mineralizing, vitaminic and proteic food.