Chia seeds seem to be turning up almost everywhere these days in a variety of products, recipes and health food supplements. So if you are curious about what you are missing and these nutrition-packed seeds are not yet included in your diet, here are the basics on why and how to eat chia seeds.
Most of us probably have a mental image associated with chia seeds from our youth when a Chia Pet was a ubiquitous gift you either gave or received. Depending on where you grew up you may recall the catchy tune ‘Ch-ch-ch-chia’ that prefaced their TV commercials. Well, thankfully chia seeds have ascended that role and have become known as highly beneficial to good health.
To get into the why and how to eat chia seeds, we start by looking back in time. The Aztecs provide the first records of chia seeds in 3500 B.C. From this history we know that they used them in various ways throughout their culture. Considered a staple in their diet, chia seeds were also used for medicinal reasons, in religious sacrifice and thought to possess supernatural powers. In ancient times Mayan warriors would apparently be able to run many miles after consuming the chia seeds mixed with water as fuel. Given those kind of early day findings; how can we ignore this tiny little grain?
The nutritional value in these microscopic seeds really is astounding. Two tablespoons contains 5 grams of protein, 18 percent of your daily calcium requirement, Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, and important minerals such as zinc, copper, manganese and an extraordinary amount of fiber. You’ll be topping up your fiber intake by 10 grams by incorporating just two tablespoons of chia into your day. To put that in perspective it is twice the fiber as a cup of oatmeal! Aside from making our lives ‘more regular’ the importance of fiber is well known from its contribution to lower blood cholesterol, blood sugar control and good bowel health overall. We also hear over and over the importance of the Omegas on our heart and yes, this little seed also includes those. Chia also seems to have a positive effect on blood sugar making it a good choice for diabetics and non-diabetics alike.
The benefits don’t stop there either. There is a good amount of data concerning the role chia seeds play in weight loss. If you are not familiar with chia seeds and the characteristics when combined with liquid, take a spoon full, combine with a quarter of a cup of water and come back to it in ten minutes. You will find a thickened mixture that will require a spoon to consume. So given that fact, envision the process it takes within your body when eaten. The theory is that the expanded chia seeds make you feel more full. This generally leads to eating less and combined with its protein component you will feel satisfied for longer periods.
These tiny seeds can be found in either black or white. There is no difference in the nutritional value based on color. Their versatility is endless. Sprinkle on your cereal, top your yogurt, add to your smoothie, use in your baking recipes or as a binding agent in recipes like vegetable patties. The seeds can also be combined with water to form a ‘Chia egg’ to replace eggs in your recipes. If you are not convinced you will know how to use these seeds, there are hundreds of recipes available using chia seeds. So have no fear!
While it is most likely you will consume chia seeds as a topping, drink or in recipes, caution on use is recommended. There have been reports of the seeds being consumed dry by the spoonful and due to their expansion properties when mixed with liquid it can present a choking hazard particularly if you have dysphagia or any difficulty swallowing so please use caution and common sense.
No doubt you have seen the increasing number of chia seed drinks available in stores and on café menus. Not only do they look interesting they can be considered a much better option than your traditional choices with the added nutrition of the chia seeds. These drinks are easy to make at home and will be sure to impress with their unusual appearance. The Kinchia Bottle Set combines the power of chia seeds and popular fruit flavors sweetened with stevia, a natural sweetener.
That sums up the why and how to eat chia seeds. As with anything in life, there is no magic pill or cure that will allow one to overlook the importance of eating well, exercising and managing a proper lifestyle. If these tiny seeds can pack so much into their minuscule little frames, doesn’t it make good sense to do this one tiny thing for yourself?