Have you seen Chia seeds in the stores?
No, I’m not talking about those funny little terra cotta animals that you smeared with little seeds until they sprouted green “hair”. Chia pets do get their sprouts from Chia seeds.
But what do you know about Chia seeds?
Chia seeds are actually an amazing food. Chia seeds are edible and are incredibly high in omega 3 fats—even more so than flaxseeds.
Chia seeds have been around for a very long time—since the ancient Aztec and Mayan days, actually. Chia seeds were a part of the Aztec and Mayan diets and carried into battle as an important part of their daily rations.
It was thought that only 1 tablespoon of chia seeds would sustain a person for 24 hours.
Even the Mayan and Aztec religious ceremonies had chia seeds in them. Chia seeds have been used for joint pain, skin conditions and other medical problems. 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.
These tasty seeds are loaded with omega 3 fatty acids and also extremely high in antioxidants—way more than even blueberries!
Becuase of the high amount of antioxidants, Chia seeds have a much longer shelf lifethan flaxseeds and do not get rancid as easily. And while flaxseeds are easier to digest if ground up, Chia seeds do not need to be.
Chia provides fiber and other important nutrients, including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, niacin, and zinc.
All that in one tiny seed!
Here is something interesting about Chia seeds–when you add water or liquid to them and let them sit for a few minutes, the seeds form a gel. This reaction also takes place in the stomach, and it slows down their absorption and keeps the blood sugar stable.
Chia is just now being studied in depth, but some studies are already out on this amazing seed–in one study from University of Toronto, researchers fed 21 diabetics either a supplement made from chia or from other grains. In 3 months, the blood pressure in patients on Chia seeds, dropped significantly, while the other grain group's BP stayed the same.
Chia seeds are about 16 % protein, 31% healthy fats, and 44% carbohydrates, with tons of fiber.
Most of its fat is the very healthy omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA.
But keep in mind, if anyone gives you a Chia pet for Christmas as a gift, the chia seeds that came with it are not edible.
Get your chia seeds from a health food store or order online. About two servings of about 1.5 ounces a day are recommended for the best benefits.
Chia seeds are delicious sprinkled on yogurt, oatmeal, or salads. You can even eat them whole as a snack or mix them up in your favorite muffin or bread mix.
I like them best in my smoothies!
Because of its high nutritional value and its shelf life, chia is being added to a wide range of foods. It's now being added to chicken feed for eggs rich in omega-3s. Chia is also fed to chickens to help their meat contain a higher amount of omega-3s. When chia is fed to cattle, their milk becomes enriched with omega-3s.
Chia can also be added to commercially prepared infant formulas, baby foods, baked goods, nutrition bars, yogurt, and other foods.
Here’s another bonus: insects don't like chia, so it is easier to find organically grown varieties.
We will soon be hearing much more about chia and its health benefits soon!
Till next time,
Stay healthy, lean and energetic!
Catherine (Cat) Ebeling RN BSN, is a back to basics diet and nutrition specialist. In addition to her advanced degree in nursing from a major medical school, she has spent the last 30 years intensely studying diet, health and nutrition. She also has a book titled "The Fat Burning Kitchen, Your 24 Hour Diet Transformation" that has sold over 60,000 copies worldwide, and has helped thousands of people transform their lives, lose weight and improve their health.
Her mission is to help others prevent disease and live their best life ever.
Nutrition made Easy. Simple.Smart.Nutrition.