Beyond Chia Pets - Chia Seeds As A Nutrient Rich Superfood
Remember Chia Pets? They were the clay animals covered with sprouted chia seeds that were popular in the 1980’s and advertised on TV commercials. My good friend told me about watching Dr. Oz (of Oprah fame) on television recently, and he was recommending chia seeds for their many health benefits. She had my attention and interest, so I decided to find out more, which I will be sharing with you here.
Where They Come From
Chia seeds come from come from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family that grows in southern Mexico. In pre-Columbian times they were an important part of the Aztec and Mayan diet. Aztec warriors relied on them as a survival food; known as “running food,” an amount equivalent to 1 tablespoon could supposedly sustain a person for 24 hours.
Chia seeds are high in protein and fiber. They’re loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, containing more per serving than salmon. They deliver more antioxidant activity than blueberries. Other important nutrients found in these tiny seeds include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, copper, niacin, and zinc. They are easier to digest than flax seeds, and they do not need to be ground.
Weight loss - Chia seeds prevent some of the food that you eat from being completely absorbed by the body. They also form a bulky gel that makes you feel full.
Glucose regulation - Chia seeds may control blood sugar by slowing down how fast carbohydrates are converted to simple sugars.
Lowering cholesterol - Due to their high content of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, the seeds can helper lower your cholesterol.
Hydration for athletes - Because chia seeds can retain 12 times their weight in water, they help the body stay hydrated during strenuous activity.
Blood pressure - There is evidence to suggest that chia seeds can help lower blood pressure.
How To Eat Chia Seeds
Easily found online and in health food stores, chia seeds can be purchased in whole or powder form. They have a mild nutty taste that doesn’t seem to interfere with the flavor of other foods. They can be sprinkled on cereal, yogurt, or salads, as well as eaten by themselves as a snack. They can also be incorporated into recipes for bread and muffins. An internet search for “chia seed recipes” will yield many more ideas.