Seeds of basil and chia plants exhibit exceptional medicinal properties and have been in use since thousands of years. While providing information on the health benefits of these edible seeds, this NutriNeat article explains the difference between these tiny seeds.
Did You Know?
Basil plant is worshiped in India and is considered as a symbol of hospitality. Chia was cultivated by the Aztec for its seeds and was considered an important food crop like corn. Aztecs even used the seeds as money to buy the necessities and to pay taxes.
In modern times, several studies are being conducted to find out the nutritional value of traditional foods. Such studies can throw light on why these foods were commonly consumed by our ancestors and how they can be helpful in leading a healthy lifestyle even today.
Like sprouts, most of the edible seeds are packed with vitamins and minerals. Both chia and basil plants belong to the same family Lamiaceae (mints). Seeds of these plants are edible and are used in different ways.
The herb basil is scientifically known as Ocimum basilicum, and it is native to India and the Mediterranean regions. Asians use lemon, holy, and Thai basil, while Italians use the variety named sweet basil. Mostly, the leaves are used to garnish various dishes and juices. Culinary use of seeds is not very common, but along with milk, water, and sugar, they are used to make medicinal drinks.
The botanical name of chia plant is Salvia hispanica, and it is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. The seeds of this plant were popular in Aztec and Mayan culture, and were consumed mainly as an energy food. They are quite popular in North and South America. These days, dietitians suggest to incorporate them in diets as they are considered as a super food. You can simply add them to salads or sprinkle them on breads and puddings.
|Basil Seeds||Chia Seeds|
|They are consumed only after soaking them in water for a couple of hours.||They are sprinkled on yogurts, salads, and puddings, eaten raw (have a nice nutty flavor), or they are consumed after soaking in water.|
|They are black.||They can be white, gray, brown, or black.|
|They are tiny and elongated (not round). They swell much faster than chia when soaked in water. After absorbing water, they become larger than soaked chia seeds.||They are small and oval. They look somewhat like sesame seeds, but are not as flat as sesame seeds. They are mottled. They have a design of random lines on the coat.|
|Way of Consumption|
|After soaking in water, they form a gelatinous thick mass. They are mostly added to drinks, milkshakes, medicinal teas, desserts, and sherbets.||They expand and form a mucilaginous mass when soaked in water, but they require more time to absorb water than basil seeds. They can be consumed directly too, without any processing. You may sprinkle them on yogurt, drinks, smoothies, puddings, oatmeal, etc. The flour obtained by grinding the seeds is also used to make bread and muffins. It is used as a binder or egg replacer. You may have chia sprouts as a snack.|
|Seed Oil Benefits|
|Studies have shown that the oil can be used to prevent the progression of cancer in animals. More research is needed to prove this fact. Scientists are interested in finding out whether the oil can reduce the mortality rate due to cancer in human beings. It is used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines. It relieves headache and lowers joint pain due to gout. It is used to treat nervous system disorders. As it helps relieve stress, it is used for aromatherapy, massage, spa, etc. Studies show that the oil can be useful for food industry as well as for paint, ink, and varnish industries.||You can use the oil for cooking, but the benefits of the oil can be reaped by eating the seeds too. So, there is no need to extract the oil. The seeds are packed with oil that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The human body cannot synthesize these oils, but they are essential for metabolism.|
|They help maintain the arteries clean and clear. They do not allow cholesterol to stick on the walls of the arteries. Thus, they help lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.||They help lower elevated triglyceride levels and help maintain heart health. Animal studies show that the seeds promote healthy cholesterol levels.|
|Weight Loss Benefits|
|As the soaked seeds form a thick mass, they make a filling drink. When taken before meals, it can curb overeating. Thus, it can help maintain weight.||When soaked in water, they absorb water and make a drink that is quite thick. The drink can keep you satiated and can reduce your appetite.|
|Other Significant Benefits|
|They exhibit antioxidant and antibacterial properties which help treat wounds and infections. Topical application can be suggested. When ingested, they help reduce body heat and symptoms of heartburn. They act as a diuretic and also promote easy bowel movement. Being rich in iron, they help improve blood quality and immunity. They help stabilize blood sugar levels.||The Aztecs and Mayans used them as a staple food. The seeds are rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous. They contain more protein and good fat than basil seeds. They are also loaded with antioxidants and fiber. They can strengthen your teeth and bones. They help maintain normal blood sugar and blood pressure levels. It is easier to incorporate these seeds in diet.|
Basil seeds are mainly known for their cooling and filling effect, while chia seeds are mainly used as energy boosters. Runners and warriors in ancient times were given chia seeds to maintain their strength and stamina.
Chia means “strength”, while basil means “royal”. They can make your food royal and can make you stronger. It is always safe and beneficial to include natural energy boosters in your diet. They are referred to as “wonder foods” because both are whole and natural, with maximum nutrients and minimum calories.