Chia is an edible seed, with a nutlike flavour that comes from the desert plant Salvia Hispanica that grows abundantly in Southern Mexico. In pre-Columbian times, they were used as survival rations by the Aztec warriors. Chia seed was also used as a medicine by the Aztecs to relieve joint pain and sore skin, and to stimulate saliva flow.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, chia seeds also provide fibre, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, niacin, manganese, and molybdenum. 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 Have Amazing Health Benefits!
- An Omega 3 Super Food: Contains more omega 3 than salmon and even more so than flax seeds. Vegetarians can opt for Chia seed as their rich supply of Omega 3. Omega 3 oil helps maintain heart and cholesterol health, and protects against inflammation such as arthritis. Unlike flax seeds, Chia seeds do not need to be ground up for nutrients to be easily digested by the body.
- Antioxidants: Chia is so rich in antioxidants which help fight free-radical damage in your body which leads to premature aging and inflammation of tissues. As compared with flax seeds or sesame seeds, they can be stored and kept fresh for long periods without becoming rancid due to their rich anti-oxidant content.
- Benefits for Type 2 Diabetes: Keeping a good balance of blood sugar is important for both health and energy. When added to water and allowed to sit for 30 mins, chia forms a gel. The gelling action of the seed and it’s combination of soluble and insoluble fibres slows down the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and converts them into sugar. This results in the body having a constant flow of steady energy rather than a spike in sugar levels that can result in fatigue.
- More Energy All Day: Our energy levels have a lot to do with what we eat. Chia seeds are one of the highest plant based sources of complete protein, unlike some beans which are incomplete, meaning you have to combine with other foods to get the full benefit. The complete protein in Chia seeds, combined with minerals, and blood sugar balancing gel work together to ensure a steady stream of energy. I have heard some marathon runners express that taking Chia seeds with fluids gives them more energy. It would appear the Chia is able to provide hydration for athletes due to its ability to absorb water to form gel.
- Lose weight and Reduce Food Cravings: Chia seeds absorb water, forming a coating of gel, increasing its size and weight, leading one to the sensation of “fullness”. Mineral and vitamin deficiency can create food cravings. For example, if one is low on calcium, you might experience the urge for more cheese and ice-cream. If dairy products are not encouraged on one’s diet, adding chia seed will help as chia has more calcium than milk. Chia seeds also contain essential trace minerals such as Magnesium that aid in the absorption of calcium and other vitamins. By balancing your diet with Chia seeds, you might well curb cravings that tempt you.
- When consuming chia seeds, drink plenty of water for cleansing your digestive system as chia seeds are high in fibre, and so require more water.
- Chia seeds are good for prevention of cardiovascular disease, but those on anti-hypertension medication or on blood thinning medicine such as warfarin, would do well to avoid taking chia seeds as it can lower blood pressure and it is a natural blood thinner.
- Pregnant women on any medication should consult their family physician first before taking chia seed as a supplement.
- Those with allergy to mustard seeds or sesame seeds need to caution taking chia seeds as they are from a similar plant species.
- Add chia seeds to freshly squeezed lemon juice and water. Then add agave syrup or brown sugar and allow chia seed to stand for 30 minutes before drinking.
- Sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds on cereal, in yoghurt, salads, or soups.
- Eat them as a snack.
- Grind them and mix them with flour when making bread or cakes.
- Bake with less fat. This can be done by substituting chia gel for half the butter in most recipes. The anti-oxidants in chia can help keep the baked items fresh longer. Try everything from cookies to muffins, pancakes, and waffles.
Here are some tasty recipes you can try out.
- Frozen coffee with Chia Seeds
- Almond Joy Chia Pudding
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Chia Bites
- Lemon Chia Seed Protein Cookies
- Vanilla Chia + Berry Pudding (Gluten Free, Raw + Vegan)
- Ultra-Moisturizating Chia-Coconut Face Mask
- Iced Green Tea with Chia Seeds + Moisturizing Face Mask