Do you remember the Chia Pet? Did you know that the popular 1980’s terra-cotta figurines use the edible Chia seeds to grow the sprouted plants?
Chia seeds come from the desert plant, Salvia hispanica, and are a member of the mint family. The plant is indigenous to southern Mexico and Guatemala. Both Aztec and Mayan cultures used Chia seeds as a staple in their diets and Aztec warriors used it as a main source of fueling during battles. Medicinally the Aztec and Mayan cultures used it to relieve joint pain and increase saliva production. Today the chia plant is back in commercial production and cultures are rediscovering the nutrition wonders of this tiny but powerful seed.
“Small things come in big packages!” and the Chia seed is no exception. They measure only about 1mm in diameter, and are found in black, white and brown colors, yet the Chia seed offers immense nutrition benefits. The seeds are rich in fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and antioxidants. Chia seeds also provide specific nutrients to include; calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, niacin and zinc. About 1 oz of chia seeds provides 11 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of protein, and 18% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium. For those who are excluding dairy from their diet, Chia seeds can help to insure adequate daily intake of Calcium.
Unlike the Flax seed, the Chia seed does not need to be ground to a meal to reap the health benefits. Chia is also higher in omega 3’s (ALA) and antioxidants as compared to the flax seed and do not spoil as quickly.
Farmers are adding Chia seeds to the feed of chickens and cattle as it increases the omega 3 content of their livestock. As insects do not like the Chia plant, most chia seeds do not require insecticides and pesticides and are naturally organic. With that being said, I always recommend reading the label and look for the organic stamp before buying!
When placed in liquids for greater than 10 minutes, chia seeds swell to 12 times its weight and form a gel. Research suggest that the swelling of the chia seed also occurs in the digestive tract and slows the process of how digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar. This expansion can help with satiety and help to promote better glucose metabolism and weight loss.
Chia seeds have a slight nutty flavor and they can easily be added to both sweet and savory foods. Sprinkle them on salads, yogurts, cereals, cottage cheese, puddings or mix them into protein shakes, baby foods, or flours for baked goods. Chia Fresca is a drink served in Central America and is made with chia seeds, water and lemon or lime juice. When cooking I add chia seeds to everything to increase the nutritional value of my foods!
Need more convincing to use Chia seeds? Here are 5 documented health benefits of this superfood:
- Anti inflammatory
- Heart Healthy
- Weight Loss
- Brain Power
- Pick up a bag today and start reaping the medicinal and health benefits of this tiny but powerful seed!
The information provided in this post is for education only and is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor should it be used as a replacement for seeking medical treatment.
Copyright © Jaime Coffey Martinez, Nutrition CPR, LLC