Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico.
Chia seeds tremendous nutritional value and medicinal properties has been recently re-discovered. For centuries this tiny little seed was used as a staple food by the Indians of the south west and Mexico. Known as the running food, its use as a high energy endurance food has been recorded as far back as the ancient Aztecs.
Chia is 16 percent protein, 31 percent fat, and 44 percent carbohydrate of which 38 percent is fiber. Most of its fat is the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 20 (2007).
Gel-forming reaction is due to the soluble fiber in Chia. This mucilage(gel) that is formed in the stomach creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, thus slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar.
In addition to the obvious benefits for diabetics, this slowing in the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar offers the ability for creating endurance. Carbohydrates are the fuel for energy in our bodies. Prolonging their conversion into sugar stabilizes metabolic changes, diminishing the surges of highs and lows creating a longer duration effect.
Chia seed has hydrophilic properties, having the ability to absorb more than 12 times its weight in water. Its ability to hold on to water offers the ability to prolong hydration. Fluids and electrolytes provide the environment that supports the life of all the body’s cells. Their concentration and composition are regulated to remain as constant as possible. With Chia seeds, you retain moisture, regulate, more efficiently, the bodies absorption of nutrients and body fluids thus maintaining the electrolyte balance.