Ch, ch, ch, chia (seeds)! These little guys have become quite popular in the health and nutrition realm. After receiving a few questions from friends about them, I decided to do a little research and try them out.
Chia seeds are part of the Salvia hispanica family, a flowering plant of the mint family. This plant is cultivated in Mexico and Guatemala. Chia seeds have been a staple food source for Native Americans for centuries. Aztec warriors (yes, warriors!) would eat Chia during hunting trips, and on trips to trade products in which they ran from the Colorado River to the Pacific Ocean.
In summary: Eat chia = run for hundreds of miles= become a warrior.
Need I say more?
Okay, I don’t need to, but I will. Chia seeds have been touted for their incredible nutritional benefits and I hope you pick some up at the store after reading this post!
Health Benefits of Chia:
- Omega 3s: The seeds and oil naturally contain more than 60% Omega-3 fatty acid. This is higher than any other plant seed. Omega 3’s are extremely healthy for your cardiovascular health.
- Protein: These small seeds are packed with protein. From only 1 tablespoon, you get 3g of protein
- Fiber: Of course, I have to mention fiber! Chia seeds are a form of insoluble fiber, the kind that absorbs water and increases the bulk of the stool. It helps everything move through the intestines more efficiently. 1 tablespoon yields 6g of fiber!
- Chia seeds absorb up to 30 times its weight in liquids. 1 tablespoon yields 6g of fiber. Imagine the difference this will make by added 1-2 tablespoons each day to your oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, etc. Like mentioned before, women should aim for 20-25g of fiber/ day and men 30-38g/day.
- Antioxidants: Chia contains Vitamin C and Vitamin E but also has something named Cinnamic acids. It is believed that these three help preserve the seeds and protect the good fats from going bad. This is why chia has been a stable product for years.
- Calcium: These seeds are a great source of calcium. They have even more calcium than milk! One oz (28g) of chia seeds has 18% of your daily recommendation amount calcium and one oz (28g) of nonfat milk has only 4% of your daily value!! Of course, you are more likely to drink a cup of milk, rather than a cup of chia seeds (please don’t try at home). Fascinating right?
How it impacts YOU:
-promotes healthy hearts, intestines, blood sugar levels and healthy weight loss.
- The fiber will make you feel full, and stave off your hunger for longer.
- The protein provides a great energy source and helps maintain muscle mass while burning off fat. If you starve yourself, your body will start to eat away at your muscle mass. Your muscle mass determines your metabolism, so keep up your muscle mass to keep up your metabolism.
- The gel that Chia forms can slow digestion and help balance blood sugar levels. The gel creates a physical barrier between the carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down. The carbohydrates are digested eventually, but at a slow and uniform rate. There is no insulin spike (which lowers blood sugar levels, while storing fat) after eating Chia.
How to Use Chia: You can add Chia to just about everything. It has no flavor and you can add the dry seeds to your cereal, oatmeal salads, soups, pastas, baked goods, etc. When the seeds are combined with water or a liquid, the chia seeds will absorb it and form a gel.
This Chia Seed Pudding is my favorite and phenomenal. I love love love the texture. It has a gooey and chewy texture and tastes delicious.
It is a great healthy fat substitute, promoting energy and endurance. Chia seeds thicken foods and add more substance without extra calories, but with health benefits.
One of my best friends introduced me to a delicious, hearty, and filling breakfast with these Chia powerhouses. The original recipe is from Pepper Lynn, but my version of it is below. I made this for the first time a week ago, and I have made numerous batches since, and eat it every day. I’m not exaggerating at all…every day.
I can’t get over how easy it is to make and how tasty it is. I quickly mix it together in a few minutes, and grab it while I’m running out the door!
Check out Chia Seed Overnight Oats!
If you want to switch it up, feel free to make your own creation!
- Lightly Sweet: 2 tsp agave nectar, ½ tsp cinnamon (my typical version)
- Flavored Jam: 2 tsp. your favorite jelly or jam. (I use my ginger jam… nom nom!)
- Peanut Butter: 2 tsp peanut butter, ½ tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp agave nectar
- Apple Cinnamon: ½ apple, chopped, ½ tsp cinnamon