Chia has the substance essential to cell life—a balanced property of giving out (nutrients) and readily taking up (debris).
The word chia is derived from the Aztec word, chia, meaning oily. These tiny seeds are highly palatable. Chia is easy to top-dress on feed with a mild nutty flavor. Horses love it!
Chia is an excellent source of EFA's (essential oils), antioxidants, minerals, protein, soluble (mucilage) fiber and low NSC (non structural carbohydrate).
Chia and Omega Oils
Chia (Salvia hispanica) is high in the magic omegas. Chia is an oil seed containing 32-39 percent oil. Two-thirds of chia oil is omega-3 essential fatty acid (polyunsaturated) with only one-third omega-6. This is an ideal healthy ratio. Because omega-3 sources are becoming increasingly scarce in the world, we need to turn our attention to chia.
Fresh green grass, a horse's natural diet, is very low in fat at only 4 to 6 percent. But horses do require a dietary intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fats because their bodies can't manufacture them.
Grasses contain anywhere from 4 to 6 times as much omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid as they do omega-6 alpha-linoleic acid. This means that a horse would normally take in a much higher level of omega-3s than omega-6s. Unfortunately, omega-3 fats are very fragile. When grass is cut, dried and baled into hay, the omega-3 content is rapidly lost. Omega-6 fatty acids are a bit more resistant to breakdown. Therefore, hay is lower in omega-3 than fresh grass.
The situation just gets worse if you feed vegetable oils, grains, or high-fat meals such as corn oil. These are high in omega-6 fatty acids. In comparison, chia oil is 62-64 percent omega-3, flaxseed oil is 58 percent, menhaden fish oil is 29 percent.
The only readily available, unprocessed feed ingredient that is high in omega-3 fatty acids is the chia seed.
Chia and Fiber — Sand Clearing
Chia is hydrophilic (water absorbing); the gelatinous property of the seeds (upon getting wet in the gut) clears sand more effectively than expensive psyllium products. It has the capacity to absorb large amounts of liquid, increasing the volume passing through the digestive tract, stimulating the intestinal transit. This important feature clears sand and debris out of a horse's gut naturally, assists with regulating stool movement and helps prevent sand colic and diverticulitis. Oil acts as a natural lubricant.
EquineChia is organically grown and 100% digestible. It can be safely fed daily. This virtually eliminates the need for psyllium products. Chia is high in soluble fiber, providing 27.6 grams of fiber for every 100 grams of seed.
Chia—mucilage gel increases in volume by 12x.
Psyllium—mucilage gel increases in volume by 10x.
Flax—mucilage gel increases in volume by 6x.
Chia is soothing to the gut with a mucilaginous gel, which eases inflammation caused by sand and ulcers. Chia acts as a barrier between the carbohydrates and the enzymes of the stomach. The slower metabolism results in less build-up of acid in the stomach. Horses are prone to ulcers because they constantly produce stomach acid.
Slower Metabolism of Carbohydrates
Chia is a very low NSC (non-structural carbohydrate). Chia forms a mucilaginous gel in the digestive tract and creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, thus slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. The slower metabolism results in a more even blood sugar level, a huge advantage for Insulin-Resistant horses.
Enhanced Fluid & Electrolyte Balances
Chia provides greater efficiency in the utilization of body fluids and absorption of nutrients, helping to maintain electrolyte balance. Fluid and electrolyte imbalances occur when large amounts of fluids are lost resulting from diarrhea, colic, fever, ulcers or sweating. Extracellular fluid loss occurs in these conditions. Intercellular fluid then shifts out of cells to compensate, causing abnormal distribution of electrolytes resulting in cellular malfunction.
Chia seeds give extensive hydration. Hydrophilic colloids (a watery, gelatinous, sticky substance) form the underlying elements of all living cells. Chia has the substance essential to cell life—a balanced property of giving out (nutrients) and readily taking up (debris).
Chia and Protein
Chia seeds contain all nine essential amino acids for a complete protein. Chia has 19-23 percent protein content, which is more protein than traditional grains such as wheat (13.7%), rice (6.5%), corn (9.4%), barley (12.5%) and oats (16.9%). Research performed on chia's digestibility and biological value has proven that chia is an excellent protein source.
There are no limitations in chia's amino acid content, therefore it can be included in a horse's diet to improve protein balance by itself or when mixed with other grains.
Chia Vitamins and Minerals
The chia seed is an ancient wonder food—a whole food source of balanced ratios of vitamins, minerals and omega oils.
Chia seeds are a source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and copper. Chia contains the mineral boron, which facilitates the absorption of calcium. It has 6 times more calcium than does milk, according the USDA (2001), Brown (2003), and the Instituto Nacional de Alimentos (2003). However, a small daily serving provides more than the necessary daily minimum supply of minerals needed.
Chia is a rich source of vitamin B, with a higher niacin content than corn, rice or even soy. Its thiamine and riboflavin content is similar corn and rice.
Chia and Antioxidants
Chia is highly enriched with antioxidants to protect its PUFAs (essential Omega oils) from becoming oxidized and going rancid, to the extent that chia seed can be stored at room temperature until use—which makes it easy to store at the barn. It does not go rancid quickly or lose its nutritional properties. Chia does not have a shell or husk that requires processing to remove. The natural antioxidants keep the inherent oils fresh. This is a unique feature of chia that makes it easy to feed and store.
Antioxidants are a group of vegetal elements that can block the harmful effects of these so-called "free radicals." The most important antioxidants in chia are chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid as well as myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol flavonols. These antioxidants have been shown to provide protection to lipids, proteins, and DNA from oxidation, and work to inhibit lipid per oxidation with strong free radical and superoxide scavenging activity. They are more effective than vitamin C and vitamin E in their antioxidant properties (Kweon, Hwang, and Sung, 2001).
Chia vs. Flax
Unlike chia, flax must be processed in order to be digested. The hard outer shell makes it indigestible. Flax is not good in large, continuous amounts in the diet. Detailed information is available in a book titled, Chia: Rediscovering a Forgotten Crop of the Aztec, (University of Arizona Press 2005), written and researched by expert Dr. Wayne Coates, with co-author, agronomist Ricardo Ayerza. Dr. Coates holds a doctorate in Agricultural Engineering from Oklahoma State University.
Many people today have turned to the consumption of flax seeds or flax seed oils for supplementing their diets with omega-3 fatty acids, but there are serious problems with the use of flax seed in the diet. There are some toxins and anti-nutritional factors found in flax seed.
Flax was never considered a food by any civilization. Flax fiber used for clothing and oil for lighting were made from the stalks and seeds by ancient cultures such as the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Arabs (Cooley, 1899; Gil, 1965p Crawford, 1979; Palagia, 1984; Mayerson, 1997). Flax is mentioned 89 times in the Bible (Moldenke and Moldenke, 1952) as a source of fiber for clothing, not for food.
"In order to safely use flax in animal and human diets the seeds should be detoxified. However, the most efficient processes require the use of solvents, and even in the best case the seeds cannot be completely detoxified."(Madhusudhan et al., 1986; Mazza and Oomah, 1996)
Chia seed is a much safer, long-term product to improve and maintain healthy horses.
Chemical and Pesticide Free
All of our chia seed is:
- Organically grown
- Certified free from chemicals, pesticides, herbicides etc
- 100% Kosher, Vegan, NON-GMO and Gluten-Free
- 3rd party tested prior to importing
- Inspected by the FDA upon entry to the USA
- Regarded by the FDA as a dietetic food with an established history of safe consumption