Chia sprouts and seeds are a beneficial addition to any diet. Promoted as an ancient superfood, chia seeds date back 500 years to the Aztecs. Loaded with Omega 3 oils, protein, fibre, calcium and other nutrients, chia seeds are a complete food according to Self Nutrition Data. A warning for any nutritional food, including chia, is that moderation is a key to avoid possible disadvantages.
Wellness, an online health resource, warns on the use of chia for people with low blood pressure or taking medications for heart conditions, to avoid additive effects. It also warns that individuals taking blood thinners may have an increased bleeding risk. Chia also may alter the way the liver breaks down medications, which can lead to ineffectiveness of the drug.
A single one-ounce serving of chia seeds contain 11 grams of fibre; that's 42 per cent of the USDA daily recommended value, based on information found at Self Nutrition Data. Individuals with a diet high in animal protein and low in fibre, who begin consuming chia seeds, can find the addition of such a high-fibre content will initially cause bowel pain as the fibre moves through the intestinal tract. People whose bowels are fairly inactive should begin by consuming smaller portions of chia seeds or sprouts until the intestinal tract becomes accustomed to healthier movements.
Hydrophilic colloids are “a watery, gelatinous, glue-like substance” forming the underlying structures of all living cells, according to William Anderson of Living and Raw Foods. Chia seeds are dense in hydophilic colloids that absorb nine to 12 times their weight in water. This quality is actually beneficial to maintaining hydration for the cells in the body and for controlling cholesterol and blood sugars. A standard serving is one ounce or one tablespoon of seeds. The warning would be for anyone eating chia seeds and drinking liquids. Consuming larger servings could prove uncomfortable once the seeds begin to swell inside the stomach.
Roasted and Irradiated
Roasting nuts and seeds is a common manufacturing process to increase flavour and shelf life, according to the website Ask Dr. Sears, by a family of paediatricians. The downside of roasting is it may alter the essential fatty acids and cause a loss in other nutrients. Irradiation is a process that kills bacteria, fungus and insects, while also extending the shelf life. Irradiated chia seeds will also suffer the same ill effects as roasting. The bottom line is roasting and irradiation kill the beneficial enzymes in chia seeds. You should buy chia seeds raw and eat them raw whenever possible for the best benefits.
Only purchase chia seeds from trusted sources, as the seeds grow in Mexico and South America. There can be questionable farming sanitation practices, based on the increased reports of E. coli and salmonella contamination on produce in recent years. Growers cannot wash chia seeds; they shake them clean of debris. It is imperative that the source uses natural fertilisers that won't contaminate the seeds. Certified organic is always a good option, but the costs and paperwork for farmers to receive certified organic classification is often prohibitive. A trusted distributor or farmer that produces crops to the same standards as organic can provide the same high quality at a lower price to the consumer.
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- SelfNutritionData: Seeds, Chia Seeds, Dried
- LivingAndRawFoods: Chia Seed–The Ancient Food of the Future by William Anderson
- Idaho State University: Radiation Information Network–Food Irradiation
- AskDr.Sears: Family Nutrition--Nuts
- National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service: Organic Farm Certification & the National Organic Program