Chia Seeds, Nature’s Little Powerhouse
We all remember the Chia Pet, and how you simply mixed the seeds with some water and they became like glue and could be spread on a terra cotta form to grow green “hair.” Well, a healthy use for these tiny seeds is to eat them and reap the benefits as our predecessors did in ancient times.
Chia seeds have been around for thousands of years. Domesticated by ancient Mexicans in 2600 B.C., the little seed was used as a staple food by indigenous people in the Southwest US and Mexico. These tiny seeds were known as the “running food,” and used for subsistence by Aztec warriors during conquests. Banned by the Spaniards because of their role in pagan religious ceremonies, the chia seed almost disappeared. Today the tiny seed is emerging once again as the superfood it truly is.
Chia seeds are packed with nutrients. They are an excellent plant-based source of Omega 3 essential fatty acids – more than flax seeds. Low in calories, high in fiber, they contain uniquely balanced ratios of macronutrients – better than most grains, seeds and other foods. They are high in protein, calcium, phosphorus, manganese and antioxidants. Plus, they are gluten-free, and there is no evidence of any other allergic responses to chia.
The health benefits of chia seeds are numerous:
- They provide super-energizing power due to a blend of protein, essential fats, fiber, complex carbohydrates and antioxidants.
- They are excellent for helping to maintain healthy body weight: the high quality protein in the seed help build lean muscle; they reduce cravings for sweets and junk; and they help curb the appetite by stabilizing blood sugar, making chia good for hypoglycemia and diabetes.
- Their high omega 3 content helps to: improve cardiovascular health; improve mental focus and concentration; and boost brain power.
- Chia’s soluble fiber massively retains water to keep you well-hydrated
- Chia supports healthy elimination and detoxification.
- Chia’s minerals (calcium, phosphorus and manganese) support bone health.
There are many ways you can enjoy chia seeds daily. One delicious way is to make a chia seed pudding. I will be posting my favorite chocolate chia pudding recipe next week.
You can also make chia gel and keep it on hand to take as is or to add to food. It is good practice to take at least 1 tablespoon of gel every day. Or add the chia gel to food. It will displace calories and fat without diluting the flavor. To prepare chia gel, start with 2 cups of water in a small bowl. Slowly add 1/3 cup chia seeds while mixing with a whisk. Be sure to add the seeds to the water while stirring, or the seeds will clump together. Wait a few minutes and mix again. The seeds will grow in size and become quite gelatinous. You may store chia gel in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Unlike flax seed, the oil in chia seeds is very stable and does not turn rancid readily.
Another way to enjoy chia is to add it to smoothies. Start with 12-16 ounces of water in blender. Grind 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds in a coffee grinder. Turn blender on low speed and slowly add ground chia. Add the other smoothie ingredients and blend. Let the smoothie sit for 5 minutes before drinking.
Chia seeds can be found in some health food stores or online. I have seen a wide range of prices. I buy organic chia seeds in bulk from a wholesale distributor for about $7 per pound. They are worth their weight in gold!
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Marilyn Chiarello, founder of A Taste of Light, is a certified raw vegan chef, educator and health coach. She offers a variety of services including health coaching, classes, dinner parties, consultations and presentations. For more information, visit aTasteofLight.com or contact her directly – Marilyn@aTasteofLight.com or 516-671-7037.
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