What Are Chia Seeds?
When I first heard of Chia Seeds my mind went immediately to “Cha Cha Cha Chia…” the theme for Chia Pets. Do you remember Chia Pets? Those little clay animals that had Chia Seed “hair” that would grow. Well, the Chia Seeds that are the latest “superfood” are the same thing, with one exception, they are an edible grade grown for human consumption.
Chia Seeds (Salvia Hispanica) has been around since 1500 B.C. At one time they were considered more valuable than gold. The seeds were used in ancient Aztec cultures as food, medicine, ritual offerings and currency.
Why Would I Want to Eat Chia Seeds?
There are many benefits to eating these nutrient-rich, protein packed, fiber packed little seeds including the fact that they:
- Aid in Weight-loss
- Prolong Stamina
- Increase Energy
- Reduce Blood Pressure
- Reduce Cravings
- Increase Fullness
- Hydrate the Body
- Source of Omega-3
- Aid in Controlling Blood Sugar
- High Fiber Content
- Provide Energy
- Boost Strength
- Increase Regeneration of Muscle Tissue
- Increase Endurance
- Aid Intestinal Regularity
- Extend Food
- Replace Calories
- Balance Electrolytes
- Aid Digestion
- Enhance Nutritional Absorption
- Reduce Inflammation
“Chia” is the Mayan word for strength and these tiny unique seeds really do pack a big punch. They are a complete protein source, filled with calcium, potassium, fiber and vitamins. They are the highest known natural source of Omega-3. They can absorb up to 10 times their weight which makes them a excellent source of hydration. Many consider Chia Seeds to be a perfect food.
There are some similarities between Chia Seeds and Flax Seeds including their high soluble fiber content. There are also many advantages to eating Chia Seeds instead of Flax Seeds. Unlike Flax Seeds, Chia Seeds can be stored for years without turning rancid or losing nutritional value. This is due to their high level of naturally occurring antioxidants. Chia Seeds can also be used whole and are easily digested and absorbed by the body. They can be substituted for flax in any recipe.
Chia seeds are very versatile. Whole and ground seeds can be sprinkled on foods, they can be ground and mixed with flour, added whole to beverages or soaked in liquids to create a gel. They can be added to virtually anything savory or sweet without changing the flavor. The seeds will enhance the flavor of what they are added to rather than dilute it. They can be used as a fat replacer in many recipes. They are also gluten-free, making them ideal for those who have gluten sensitivity.
Raw foodists seem to have embraced the Chia Seed more quickly than everyone else, but they have properties that make them ideal for many diets. Because they slow down the conversion of carbohydrates into energy they can have greatly benefit diabetics and those who are trying to eat a low-glycemic or anti-inflammatory diet. Their ability to increase fullness, reduce cravings, displace calories and replace fat make Chia Seeds a great weight-loss aid.
Recipes Using Chia Seeds:
- Chia Gel
- Chia Fresca
- Pumpkin Chia Pudding
- Banana Chia Pudding
Until recently, Chia Seeds were only grown by a few small growers in Latin America. After centuries of obscurity, people are starting to realize their benefits and commercially produced products are starting to add Chia Seeds. The increased demand for this amazing little seed has caused commercial growing to resume. Organically grown varieties are plentiful because insects don’t like the chia plant.
If you have never tried Chia Seeds, they are definitely worth a try. You can find them in your local health food store. You could sprinkle them on some yogurt or make one of the recipes above. They are versatile and inexpensive, giving you a lot of bang for your buck.
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