You all may remember the Chia pet…you know…cha, cha, cha CHIA! That had to be the BEST marketing strategy, ranking up there with “Where’s the Beef” and “Clap on, clap off”. Okay, I am dating myself…moving on…
Chia seeds are not only for growing hair onto little animals or Homer Simpson’s head, the teensy seeds that make these dreams of clever plant design a reality are actually seriously underrated. They are bountiful and chock full of nutritive goodness. Chia seeds have been in existence for thousands of years as a staple food of the Native Americans. Chia dates back to the ancient Aztecs, when warriors used these seeds to nourish themselves when away on battle or hunting. They just put a few handfuls in their pockets and this was enough for them to have plenty of energy to fight, kill and feel satisfied. Chia seeds come from a plant called Salvia Hispanica, which is related to the mint family. And Chia is gaining in popularity folks…BIG time…ever since Oprah’s Dr. Oz started to endorse them…well, as a nutrition educator, I fully support the masses new found love for them. It just means you better hurry up and get some for yourself so you too can reap their benefits!
So, why is everybody jumping on the Chia train? Many reasons! First off, chia seeds are a complete protein source. These tiny seeds contain roughly 19-23% protein by weight! This makes chia an excellent resource for vegetarians and vegans, as a fantastic non-animal source of protein! Woo who!
Chia can absorb up to 9 times its volume in water! This helps the body prolong hydration and retain essential electrolytes.
Chia also contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than flax at about 60% Omega-3 compared to flax being closer to 50%. Also, since we Americans typically consume more Omega-6 than 3, chia offers a better, healthier balance. We should have an Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio of between 1:1-4:1, and sadly, on average, ours is more like 30:1!!! Corn and soy byproducts have a lot to do with this skewed ratio. According to Dr. Mirkin, MD on drmirkin.com:
Eating too much omega-6 and too little omega-3 causes clots and constricts arteries to increase risk for heart attacks, increases swelling to worsen arthritis, and aggravates a skin disease called psoriasis. It may block a person’s ability to respond to insulin, causing high insulin and blood sugar levels and obesity. It increases hormone levels of insulin like growth factor-1 that causes certain cancers.
Chia seeds also contain antioxidants in the form of vitamins C and E, but the cool thing about chia is that it also possesses something special called Cinnamic acid, which guards the fragile Omega-3’s and keeps them from going toxic and rancid in the body’s environment. These are why chia has remained so stable and is still around after thousands of years!
Chia is an excellent source of fiber, with 4 teaspoons supplying the body with 9 grams! Chia is able to absorb up to 30 times it weight in water! Chia can help bind to and collect toxic waste and debris and assist with its elimination through the colon.
Chia can help regulate diabetes, as it is slowly digested and will not upset blood-sugar levels, actually helping to sustain and balance them out. And if you are watching calories and weight, chia can help you feel fuller longer!
So, how can you incorporate chia into your eating lifestyle, you ask? Try any of the following:
Sprinkle chia seeds in salads
Blend them in your smoothies-I take 6-8oz rice or almond milk, 1 scoop chia seeds, 1 scoop maca powder (I will do a separate blog on the wonders of maca), 1/2 frozen banana
Make chia gel-see, since chia is super awesome at absorbing up liquid, you can take 1 scoop chia seeds to 9 parts water and mix with a fork or whisk. Let sit for about 10 min and mix again. This will turn into a gel you can eat plain (has a slight nutty flavor) or add to jams, nut butters, anything you want, really! This will add more bulk and volume to your foods
Add to trail mixes…mix in with all your other fave nuts, seeds and dried fruit
Buy Greens+ Bars with Chia-great to have with you on the go
Chia is the next biggest craze peeps, so you heard it hear first! (Unless you watch Oprah) Trust me, you will not regret getting your daily dose of these little guys. Just remember, good things DO come in small packages!