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Chia seeds
Overview
Chia has a much longer history as a medicinal herb. It originated in Mexico and was cultivated by the Aztecs. Today, chia is grown commercially in Central America and South America. It is grown mainly for its seed, which is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.

People use chia seed for diabetes, high blood pressure, and for generally reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke (cardiovascular disease).Chia seeds contain a large amount of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber. Researchers think omega-3 fatty acids and fiber help reduce risk factors for heart disease.


What is Chia seed oil?
Chia oil is derived from the seeds of the Salvia hispanica plant, also called the Chia plant. This flowering herb is native to Central America and is prized for the seeds that contain large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds and sprouts are used in Central America as a nutritional supplement; the chia seeds are also used in the popular Chia Pet pottery planters. Used as an essential oil and a nutritional plant extract, the omega-3 fatty acids in chia oil offer numerous physical benefits.

Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for a wide array of health issues; one of the most important and well-known benefit is improved cardiovascular health. Scientists have determined that unsaturated fatty acids can lower cholesterol and prevent high blood pressure. Research shows that this supplement also aids in boosting immune system functions, helps prevent cancer and diabetes, relieves depression and joint stiffness, and improves memory.

The essential oil pressed from chia seeds contains important nutrients, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. It provides both calcium and the chemical boron, which helps the body absorb calcium. Composed of unsaturated fat, it also helps the body to absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. People who have trouble with wheat and gluten products might appreciate the fact that chia oil is a gluten-free supplement.


How it is made?
Cold pressing chia seeds extracts the odorless and nearly flavorless chia seed oil for nutritional supplements.
 
Benefits / uses
1. Lose Weight without Starving
Hunger is a main enemy of real weight loss, and you don’t want to fight it with jittery expensive pills. When a chia seed is exposed to water, it forms a coating of gel, increasing its size and weight. Since the gel made of water, it has no calories. It’s also difficult to remove from the seed, meaning that it helps your body think it is full, without adding calories.

2. Balance Blood Sugar
Keeping balanced levels of blood sugar is important for both health and energy. Blood sugar may spike after meals, especially if you eat high-starchy foods or sweets. This can lead to ‘slumps’ in your day where you feel tired and out of energy. By balancing your blood sugar, you not only lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, but you also ensure steady, constant energy throughout your day. Both the gelling action of the seed, and it’s unique combination of soluble and insoluble fiber combine to slow down your body’s conversion of starches into sugars. If you eat chia with a meal, it will help you turn your food into constant, steady energy rather than a series of ups and downs that wear you out.

3. Help Prevent Diverticulitis / Diverticulosis
Irregularity is a big factor in this risky condition. To help ensure regularity, you need plenty of soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet. If you don’t want to eat celery, and whole-grain everything or piles of bran flakes, the Chia Seed is here to help. Each seed is coated with soluble fibers which aid its gelling action. The exterior of the seed is protected by insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber is unable to be digested so instead, it helps keep food moving smoothly through the digestive process. Soluble fiber, and the gel coating of the seed keeps the colon hydrated and ensures the easy movement of food.

4. Add healthy omega-3 oil to your diet
Chia is the richest plant-source of this healthy oil. By weight, chia contains more omega 3 than salmon, and it still tastes like whatever you want. Omega 3 oil is important in heart and cholesterol health. It’s also recently been targeted as a weight-loss helper. USA Weekend magazine also reports on a study where overweight dieters who included omega 3s in their eating plan lost 2 more pounds monthly than the control group, who did not.

5. Feel more energized all day long
Chia is one of nature’s highest plant-based sources of complete protein. Usually protein from items like peanut butter and some beans are incomplete, meaning you have to combine them with other foods to get the full benefit. Not Chia though, it’s protein is complete to raise your energy levels. The combination of complete protein, vitamins, minerals and blood-sugar balancing gel all work together to make sure you have steady, never jittery energy.

6. Bake with less fat
Do you enjoy making baked goods at home, but hate all the butter and oil that has to go into them? Chia gel can substitute for half the butter in most recipes! The food will bake the same and taste the same (or better) from the addition of the chia gel. All you need to do is divide the amount of butter or oil in half, and then use the same amount of chia gel to fill in. The anti-oxidants in chia can even help keep the food tasting fresh longer. Everything from cookies to cakes to muffins, pancakes and waffles can be made with chia gel as your butter replacement.

7. Add age-defying anti-oxidants
Anti-oxidants have been in the news lately due to their super healthy benefits. You know that blueberries and several exotic fruits have them, but did you know that chia is extremely high in anti-oxidants too. These helpful substances are what makes the Chia Seed stay fresh for so long. At room temperature, they’ll stay fresh and ready to eat for over two whole years! And that’s all without a single chemical or preservative. Anti-oxidants help prevent free-radical damage in your body. Free radicals lead to problematic conditions such as premature aging of the skin and inflammation of various tissues.

8. Cut cravings for food
Being deficient in minerals or vitamins can create a craving for food. For example, if you’re low on calcium, you may feel compelled to eat lots of cheese and ice cream. This happens because your body knows that cheese is a source of calcium, and it hasn’t been getting enough. But what if dairy and whole milk are a “Diet don’t”? You can always add calcium to your food by sprinkling on the chia. By weight, chia has more calcium than whole milk. It also has magnesium and boron, essential trace minerals used in the absorption of calcium and other vitamins. By balancing your vitamins and minerals with chia, you can curb cravings that might tempt you.

9. You can pack in more flavorful punch
Chia seeds will never cover up or add to the flavor of your food. Second, when the seeds hydrate, they magnify the taste of whatever they were added to. Put them in pudding, Chocolaty, Swirl them into a smoothie, Fruity. The same thing goes with dressings, dips, salsas, sauces and more. These two factors combine to let chia seeds take on the taste of whatever you add them to.

Doses
The appropriate dose of chia depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions.
 
Possible Side effects / Precautions / Possible Interactions:
Chia seems to be safe when taken for up to 12 weeks. Not enough is known about the safety of using it for a longer period of time.

Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of chia during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

High triglycerides: Blood contains several types of fat, including cholesterol and triglycerides. Triglyceride levels are too high in some people. Eating some types of chia can make them even higher. If you have high triglycerides, stick with using a specific variety of chia called Salba. Salba does not significantly increase triglyceride levels.

Prostate cancer: Chia contains a lot of alpha-linolenic acid. Some research suggests that large amounts of alpha-linolenic acid in the diet might increase the chance of getting prostate cancer. If you have prostate cancer or have a high risk of getting it, avoid eating large amounts of chia.


Reference & Research:
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"Salvia hispanica L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2000-04-19. Retrieved 2012-03-21.
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a b Cahill, Joseph P. (2003). "Ethnobotany of Chia, Salvia hispanica L. (Lamiaceae)". Economic Botany 57 (4): 604–618. doi:10.1663/0013-0001(2003)057[0604:EOCSHL]2.0.CO;2.
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Kintzios, Spiridon E. (2000). Sage: The Genus Salvia. CRC Press. p. 17. ISBN 9789058230058.
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Anderson, A.J.O. and Dibble, C.E. "An Ethnobiography of the Nahuatl", The Florentine Codex, (translation of the work by Fr. Bernardino de Sahagún), Books 10-11, from the Period 1558-1569
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Mark Griffiths, Editor. Index of Garden Plants. (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 2nd American Edition, 1995.) ISBN 0-88192-246-3.
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Chia: The Ord Valley's new super crop
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The European Union, "Commission Decision of 13 October 2009 authorising the placing on the market of Chia seed(Salvia hispanica) as a novel food ingredient under Regulation (EC) No 268/97 of the European Parliament and of the Council" (L294/14) 2009/827/EC pp. 14-15 (November 11, 2009)
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a b c USDA SR-21 Nutrient Data (2010). "Nutrition Facts for Seeds, chia seeds, dried". Nutrition Data. Retrieved 2010-11-29.
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USDA SR-21 Nutrient Data (2010). "Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Seeds, flaxseed". Nutrition Data. Retrieved 2010-11-29.
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USDA SR-21 Nutrient Data (2010). "Nutrition Facts and Analysis for Seeds, sesame seed kernels, dried (decorticated)". Nutrition Data. Retrieved 2010-11-29.
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Ulbricht C et al (2009). "Chia (Salvia hispanica): a systematic review by the natural standard research collaboration". Rev Recent Clin Trials 4 (3): 168–74. PMID 20028328.
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Cahill 2003, p. 605
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Jamboonsri, Watchareewan; Phillips, Timothy D.; Geneve, Robert L.; Cahill, Joseph P.; Hildebrand, David F. (2011). "Extending the range of an ancient crop, Salvia hispanica L.—a new ω3 source". Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution (Springer) Online First. doi:10.1007/s10722-011-9673-x.