Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Powerful Chia Seed

Much has been described in the Flaxseed entry that i promised a sharing of yet another superfood known as chia seed. They were first cultivated by the Aztec as superfood as the seeds provides nutrition enough to sustain an adult for half a day on one serving.
A serving of chia seed (1 tablespoon) provides up to 80kcal of energy of which it has about 10% more Omega-3 fatty acid than flaxseed and 100% more compared to salmon (or fish oil, per serving). It is rich in Omega-6 as well, another essential fatty acid. It boost to have more lignan (anti-oxidant) compared to flaxseed.
Unlike flaxseed where there is a hard insoluble husk, chia seed outer husk is fully hydrophillic and will grow 3 times its size if immersed in water, tripling up the bulk within 30minutes.
Taking one serving of chia seed will give you 42% of your daily needed fiber, apart from it being more enriched with micronutrients similarly to flaxseed and sesame seeds.
Organic chia seeds are hard to find in Malaysia and the cheapest place to get them is in Australia. They will cost close to RM75/kg depending on the supplier. One kilogram of the seed will last an adult close to one month with one serving per day. That too, to some, is already overkill. I take my chia alternate days and take slightly more on race day.
I like my chia mixed with water and left overnight. The seed will absorb water and will turn into gel-like texture that reminds you of the Biji Selasih or Basil seeds. Unfortunately, basil seeds do not share the same nutritional value as chia seed. Not even close. The neutral taste (or rather, tasteless nature) of chia allow the seeds to be used for many drink mixture without absorbing or rejecting the flavor of the drink mix. I have mixed Chia with another superfood known as Spirulina. It's powerpacked and make perfect recovery drink.
One of the driver for taking chia is that, weight for weight, it has 6-times more iron content compared to spinach. Apart from being a superfood , chia is vegetarian friendly as it will provide high quality nutrition to the vegan body. One no longer need to take supplement that is fish based to obtain the Omega 3 and 6!
As they are hydrophillic, chia is known to help ultra endurance athlete with hydration and maintain a more balance isotonic condition in the body for absorption of minerals and nutrition.
The gel-forming reaction favors the weight watcher and diabetic patient as it will form a physical barrier in the intestine and slow down or prevent absorption of carb, thus preventing them from being converted into sugar too fast. This is one reason why chia is perceived to provide more "energy". Ultra athlete that takes chia reportedly said that they has less "sugar crashes" or "sugar high" due to this slow conversion.
Unlike flaxseed where the husk outside is a concern that prevent good absorption of nutrition and need to be grounded (i maintain that my flaxseeds are chewed during consumption), chia seed do not need to go through this and they keep really well - as long as they are kept dry, else you will get them bunched up together. It will not turn rancid/spoil even if left in the water for a week in the fridge (i like my water cold).
With these properties, i was able to control my daily caloric intake and has successfully shedding off weights with proper control and balance of food and exercise.
At the price I am paying, they are worth their weight in gold. If you have friends in Australia, particularly Melbourne, get them to bring back a couple of kg of these seeds. You will not regret consuming them. I will even buy them off from you if you decided not to take them after trying it for a week or two. :)

16 comments:

  1. Thanks! It's "food" for thought. I'll ask a friend to help me get it from Oz when she comes back. Who knows, I may hv found the superfood that I am looking for!

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  2. Francis - that is the best bet. Alternatively, it is buying online from US of A via ebay. But the freight charges will make them back to be expensive again.

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  3. What clinical study/evidence do you have that proves it isn't better than basil seeds?

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    Replies
    1. None I am afraid. My own personal experience consuming it over the years has returned great results especially when it comes to my own personal well being and sports performance.

      thanks for dropping by!

      Delete
  4. Misleading, especially since you don't cite sources.

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    Replies
    1. Yes. I agree. But perhaps these few links could help:

      From Time magazine:
      http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/11/28/chia-seeds-as-superfood-now-you-can-have-your-chia-pet-and-eat-it-too/

      From NY Times
      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/24/business/chia-seeds-gain-popularity-for-nutritional-benefits.html?_r=0

      From a clinical study:
      http://www.nutrition.org/asn-blog/2012/03/the-real-scoop-on-chia-seeds/

      Google is powerful. My blog is not the only resources for Chia. But thanks for the highlight. Made me realise that more research need to be done by myself at least.

      Hope you will do the same too, then we can have more productive and meaningful discussions.

      Delete
  5. stupe, it seems that chia seed is best for pre-race nutrition, training nutrition.
    But you did mention it being used for recovery. I had always thoughts that pre-race was mainly focus on carbs, whilst, post race is protein and hydration.
    Any thoughts?

    Also how much is it in Malaysia for chia seeds per g?
    I will try and look for it in jusco or do I have to go to a more boutique store?

    What is the best way to prepare this? I am not a big fan of tasteless food. I have been off and on using quinoa and even then i make nasi goreng out of it. :P

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    Replies
    1. Chia, if you ask me, is good anytime. I mixes it with water and leave it in there for me to drink the day through. When i mentioned that it is good for recovery, lets not forget that this food is rich in Omega 3 and 6 - otherwise known as essential fats. Since I've been eating clean, i realised that there is no need for carbo-loading. It is a myth. If you been eating well, carbo-loading is one thing you can strike off.

      No doubt post-race food would be great if you can include protein, but make sure the protein has sufficient BCAA or branched chain amino acid, the essential that can't be produced by the body enough.

      Best way to prepare Chia? It's so versatile you can eat it straight or just mix it with anything you cook. It does not absorb taste and is neutral when taken with anything.

      As for the price, depending on the quality. I've seen some good one selling for about RM70/kg and the cheaper one (with some grains of sand) for about RM15/kg.

      I am taking some organic chia selling at RM15/250grams.

      Delete
  6. Where did you buy organic chia selling at RM15/250grams. ?? plse advise

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  7. There is an organic shop at SS2, next to the panasonic electrical shop. I can't recall the name now.

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  8. Can get at ben's food and village grocers too .

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. After reading articles, including yours, I'm tempted to try the chia seed. Is it possible for you to get the address or the contact number of the shop selling it in SS2. Need to find out if they can courier it to me. I'm from JB.

    Thanks.
    Azlan Sunil
    azlansunil@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Azlan, let me email you tomorrow to see if any help can be obtained for this purpose.

      Delete
  11. I have found some ways you can get chia seeds online in Malaysia. Some are dodgy, but some seems legit:

    1 - http://www.lelong.com.my/kx/chia+seed.htm
    2 - http://www.rakuten.com.my/shop/loveearth/
    3 - http://strictlychiaseeds.com.my/

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