Chia seeds come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. Salvia hispanica seed is often sold under its common name "chia" as well as several trademarked names. Its origin is believed to be in Central America where the seed was a staple in the ancient Aztec diet.
Chia seeds have recently gained attention as an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acid, also contain carbohydrates, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium.
One ounce (about 2 tablespoons) contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals. They are also an excellent source of fiber at 10 grams per ounce (about 2 tablespoons)
Emerging research suggests that including chia seeds as part of a healthy diet may help improve cardiovascular risk factors such as lowering cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure.
- Chia seeds can be eaten raw or prepared in a number of dishes.
- Sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds on cereal, rice, yogurt or vegetables.
- Soak chia seeds in fruit juice or water.
Chia seeds are very absorbent and develop a gelatinous texture when soaked in water making it easy to mix them into cooked cereal or other dishes.
The mild, nutty flavor of chia seeds makes them easy to add to foods and beverages. They are most often sprinkled on cereal, sauces, vegetables, rice dishes, or yogurt or mixed into drinks and baked goods. They can also be mixed with water and made into a gel.
"Chia" means strength, used to be considered as an energy booster.
They are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds.
Flaxseed also known as linseed or “Linum usitatissimum” which means “most useful” is an annual crop plant with blue flowers. Flaxseeds are slightly larger than sesame seeds and have a hard shell that is smooth and shiny. 40% of the world’s flaxseed is produced in Canada, the country that is the world’s largest producer and explorer of flaxseeds
Two types of flax are available: golden and brown flax seed, both are nutritionally equivalent and excellent sources of dietary fiber and omega-3 (or ALA: -linolenic acid). Brown Flax is typically grown for commercial use as Linseed Oil, paint, and solvents while the Golden Flax Seed was developed for human consumption and is generally preferred by most of the population because of its nutty-buttery flavor.
Raw Flaxseed can be purchased either whole or already ground. Whole seeds can be ground in a coffee grinder and then stored in an airtight container in a dark, dry and cool place to prevent them from becoming rancid and where they keep fresh for several months.
Although ground flaxseed may be more convenient since it allows much more of the nutrition, flavor and fiber to be released and available thus more access to its benefits, refrigerating whole seeds may also extend their freshness and increase their shelf life. For best quality in all aspects, process the flax just before use since quality deteriorates quickly once milled due to oxidation and light exposure.
Concerning flaxseed oil, it should always be purchased in opaque bottles that have been kept refrigerated since it is highly perishable and always check the expiry date on the label, as the oil spoils quickly.
- Should be added as a dressing to food after cooking.
- Should be served directly to optimally preserve its dietary value.
- Should NEVER be heated since it has a low burning point so heat destroys the nutritional value and possibly inspires a brunt flavor.
- Once opened, it should be refrigerated to slow down the loss of quality to the minimum.
Unlike the whole or milled flax seed, the oil will provide no reliable source of fiber, however excellent amount of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. This oil is also available in capsule form for indigestion.
Several tips to enrich your diet in flaxseed:
- Add ground flaxseed to baked goods (cookies, muffins, breads, etc…)
- Sprinkle ground flaxseed onto the salad
- Mix a tablespoon of ground flaxseed with the salad dressings (mayo, mustard, lemon oil…) or sandwich sauces.
- Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed into a cup of yogurt or to hot or cold breakfast cereal.
- Substitute one large egg in a recipe with one tablespoon ground flaxseed and 3 tablespoons water. (Ps: the texture of the finished product will be slightly “gummy”).
Flaxseed is gaining popularity as an ideal dietary component to prevent various diseases and promote health.
Flaxseeds as the richest source of lignans, which are estrogen-like phytochemicals, protect the body against certain types of hormones related to cancers especially prostate and breast cancer as well as colon cancer.
The anti-cancer properties of flaxseed may also stem from alpha linolenic acid, which is potentially capable of slowing tumor growth.
Flaxseeds have several cardio protective effects due to the antioxidant properties of lignans and hypolipidemic effect of imega-3:
- Prevent hypercholesterolemia and thrombosis
- Reduce plasma triglyceride levels
- Prevent and control high blood pressure
- Reduce platelet adhesiveness
- Reduce inflammation
The high fiber and mucilage content in flaxseeds has a laxative effect, eases the passage of stools and thus relieves constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticular disease.
The high lignans and omega-3 content was shown effective as a hormone replacement therapy for mild menopausal symptoms, it was also helpful in reducing the pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS) and the effects of menstruation.
Lastly, lignin-rich fiber has also been shown to decrease the incidence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and reduces the glycemic response in diabetic patients by stimulating insulin secretion.
Omega-3 in flaxseed:
- Decreases the risk of dry eye syndrome
- Helps in preventing bone loss by decreasing the rate of bone resorption
- Enhances the immune system and increases the ability of the body to defend against bacteria and viruses.
Owing to the unique properties of this crop and due to health concerns and awareness that is spreading across the world, Diet Delights center was the first to pioneer the use of flaxseed, since its foundation it incorporated it in the baked goods such as pies, oven breads and mankoush, as well, flaxseed boxes are displayed for sale in the center and restaurant.