It wasn’t long ago when chia seeds were most well known for being spread onto animal-shaped terra-cotta pottery and growing into green “ch-ch-ch-chia” pets, with the lush greenery filling in for fur.Today they’re gaining popularity as a functional food item that supplies an impressive variety of nutrients in just a small dose, such as two tablespoons. Although they’re mostly grown in Mexico and Bolivia, in 2014 the first US company growing chia seeds was established.
Originally, the seeds were being targeted as equine feed, but their benefits to four-legged animals extend to humans as well.
Chia seeds are among the healthiest foods on the planet.
They are loaded with nutrients that can have important benefits for your body and brain.
Dr. Oz from the Oprah show says,“They just may be one of the healthiest things around.”
Nutrition expert Dr. Weil said, “A healthful and interesting addition to my diet. My prediction? You will begin to see chia being added to more and more commercial products, such as prepared baby foods, nutrition bars, and baked goods.”
Chia seeds are tiny black seeds from the plant Salvia Hispanica, which is related to the mint.This plant grows natively in South America.Chia seeds were an important food for the Aztecs and Mayans back in the day.They prized them for their ability to provide sustainable energy… in fact, “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.”Despite their ancient history as a dietary staple, only recently did chia seeds become recognized as a modern day superfood.In the past few years, they have exploded in popularity and are now consumed by health conscious people all over the world.
Don’t be fooled by the size… these tiny seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch.A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains (1, 2):
Fiber: 11 grams.
Protein: 4 grams.
Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s).
Calcium: 18% of the RDA.
Manganese: 30% of the RDA.
Magnesium: 30% of the RDA.
Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA.
They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.This is particularly impressive when you consider that this is just a single ounce, which supplies only 137 calories and one gram of digestible carbohydrate!Just so that we’re all on the same page, 1 ounce equals 28 grams, or about 2 tablespoons.Interestingly… if you subtract the fiber, which may not end up as usable calories for the body, chia seeds only contain 101 calories per ounce.This makes them one of the world’s best sources of several important nutrients, calorie for calorie.
To top things off, chia seeds are a “whole grain” food, are usually grown organically, are non-GMO and naturally free of gluten.
More benefits of chia seeds: when added to water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, chia forms a gel. Researchers suggest that this reaction also takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar.Chia seeds have a nutlike flavor. You can mix seeds in water and add lime or lemon juice and sugar to make a drink known in Mexico and Central America as “chia fresca.” As with ground flax seeds, you can sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds on cereal, in yogurt or salads, eat them as a snack, or grind them and mix them with flour when making muffins or other baked goods. I find them tasty and an interesting addition to my diet.
Here are some useful recipes with using the chia seed:
Chia Seed Pudding
When chia seeds are soaked in water overnight, they take on a tapioca-like texture. Add some cinnamon or other spices and a bit of stevia, if you like, for sweetness and you’ll have a pudding-like treat that can be eaten morning, noon or night.
For added crunch, add sliced raw almonds to the top. You can also try the Chia Pudding Parfait recipe, which was adapted from Vegan.com, below:11
- 1/3 cup chia seeds
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp. Himalayan or sea salt
Measure out chia seeds, coconut milk, extracts, and honey. Mix well and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or even overnight so the chia seeds absorb the moisture and become thick and gelatinous, like a pudding.Spoon into a glass or parfait cup.Add your favorite toppings and enjoy.
You can blend chia seeds with berries and stevia to make your own homemade jam. You won’t need pectin because chia seeds gel-up just fine on their own.
Chia seeds work well as an exfoliant and buffing agent to add to your beauty care routine. Spa Index has a simple recipe for a homemade exfoliating scrub using just three ingredients:
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
1.Mix the ingredients together and store in a clean jar.
2.To use, dampen face and apply scrub in a circular motion to damp face.
3.Allow the mixture to set for two minutes before using a wet washcloth to remove.
4.Splash cold water on your face when you’ve finished.
5.Store in fridge for 3-5 days.
Fuel Up After Exercise
Chia seeds are known for enhancing strength and vigor, so try adding them to your post-workout whey protein shake.