Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, grown in Mexico dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures. “Chia” means strength, and folklore has it that these cultures used the tiny black and white seeds as an energy booster. That makes sense, as chia seeds are a concentrated food containing healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium.
According the Web MD, Chia seeds are an unprocessed, whole-grain food that can be absorbed by the body as seeds (unlike flaxseeds). One ounce (about 2 tablespoons) contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals. The mild, nutty flavor of chia seeds makes them easy to add to foods and beverages. They are most often sprinkled on cereal, sauces, vegetables, rice dishes, or yogurt or mixed into drinks and baked goods. They can also be mixed with water and made into a gel.
Here are the top 9 chia seed benefits according to Dr. Axe…
1. Skin and Aging – an antioxidant that can prevent premature skin aging due to inflammation free radical damage.
2. Digestive Health – high in fiber (11g per ounce) which helps promotes bowel regularity. Also when consumed, chia seeds create a gelatin-like substance in the stomach. This gel-forming action is due to the soluble fiber in chia seeds and it can work as a prebiotic supporting the growth of probiotics in the gut.
3. Heart Health – reverse inflammation, regulate cholesterol and lower blood pressure which makes it extremely beneficial to consume for heart health.
4. Help Treat Diabetes – rich in alpha-linolenic acid and fiber. Researchers from the University of Litoral in Argentina discovered that chia seeds can help prevent metabolic disorders like dyslipidemia (excessive fat in the blood) and insulin resistance – which are two factors in the development of diabetes.
5. Boost Your Energy and Metabolism – adding a serving of chia seeds a day can help boost your metabolism and burn belly fat.
6. Stronger Bones – just one ounce of chia seeds has 18% of the recommended daily amount of calcium.
7. Build Muscle and Lose Weight – ranks among the top plant based sources of protein. This is another reason this super seed is great to consume for those trying to put on lean muscle, burn fat, and balance blood sugar levels.
8. Fight Breast and Cervical Cancer -rich in alpha lineic acid (or ALA) which is an Omega-3 fatty acid. Recently in 2013, the Journal of Molecular Biochemistry found that ALA limited the growth of cancer cells in both breast and cervical cancers.
9. Dental Health – with chia seeds being packed with calcium, phosphorus, Vitamin A and zinc, it’s no wonder that they are a top food to help your teeth. Calcium is the building block of your teeth and necessary for tooth health. Zinc prevents tarter by keeping plaque from mineralizing onto your teeth and has an antibacterial effect that keeps bad breath germs away. Vitamin A and phosphorus are also important for strong teeth and a healthy mouth.
So, I purchased my first bag of chia seeds a couple of days ago. I’ve sprinkles some of this superfood in my salads and smoothies. I also made chia seed pudding with almond milk, agave nectar and vanilla extract. I let it sit overnight so the chia seeds could do its magic and turn milk into pudding. The consistency was a little weird, very gel like. But the taste wasn’t bad. No one in my household wanted to try it except for my daring and brave 1 year old. She was a little weary of the seeds but she tried it anyway. She seemed to like it. She let me feed her about 3 spoonfuls but that was her limit. I made her brother eat a couple of spoonfuls before his basketball tryouts. It boosts your energy, right? Well, that’s what I told him. Haha… Like I said before, the taste wasn’t bad but the texture throws you off a little. So, it looks like I will be the only eating chia seed pudding in my house. Yum… I’ll just have to figure out other ways to “sneak in” this superfood in my family’s diet.