Chia seeds that is, which yes, comes from that fun little “Chia Pet” we all had or saw back in the 80’s. Who knew it was actually not just a lovely eyesore, but an amazing power food for our diets? Not me, until the past several months I had no idea just how amazing Chia seeds are for your health. The benefits are outstanding, and worth a second glance!
Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L.) are extremely high in Omega 3 and are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber! 30% of Chia seed oil is Omega 3, 10% is Omega 6, which is the perfect balance of essential fatty acids for our bodies. These vital fats help protect our bodies against inflammation (such as arthritis and heart disease), and actually contain more Omega 3 than salmon! Chia is the richest non-marine whole food source of Omega-3 and dietary fiber currently known to man.
There is also evidence (scientist are researching, but I’m going to consider it fact) that Chia seeds help in reducing blood pressure (have you had a previous pregnancy where preeclampsia was an issue? Eat more Chia!) According to the American Heart Association, Omega-3 fatty acids can normalize blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels, while helping promote healthy heart and blood vessels.
Chia seeds are highly hydrophilic (can absorb large amounts of water) and can hold a whopping 10-12x their weight in water (flax seeds only absorb approximately 6-8x their weight in water)! This makes them a great enhancer in hydrating our bodies (especially for athletes, and those who practice Bikram yoga, like me!) With six times more calcium than milk, and with greater amounts of high-quality protein than the one found in soy, Chia also helps strengthen muscles and bones.
Eating Chia seeds can actually slow down how fast our bodies convert carb calories into simple sugars, which scientist are researching as having great benefits for diabetics especially… there are studies indicating that Chia seeds can control blood sugar! Therefore they are excellent for those looking to drop a few pounds in a healthy way. How does this work? The Chia seeds actually turn into a gel-like substance once they enter our digestive system, which causes some of the food (calories) we eat from getting completely absorbed into our system. This also makes you feel full faster, reducing your appetite. Chia´s insoluble fiber reduces digestive transit time and removes toxins as it passes through the digestive tract. This assists our bodies in flushing out digestive waste faster than almost anything I’ve seen! It acts like a magnet to toxins as it moves through our intestines, it is really amazing. They are an excellent source of raw dietary fiber.
Chia seeds are an excellent replacement for flax seeds, for those who have an allergy or are otherwise sensitive to flax seeds, such as myself (usually accompanies a gluten allergy/intolerance and/or Celiac Disease). Flax seeds, although good in their own right, are often difficult to digest.
Now for my Chia seed soap-box moment; if you are pregnant, Chia seeds are a MUST for your diet. I say MUST and I mean non-negotiable! Your developing baby desperately needs the Omega's in Chia seeds to facilitate optimal neurological development and more. Eating Chia seeds is an excellent alternative for my Vegan and Vegetarian friends, and even if you are a self-proclaimed carnivore, you still need these little wonders to flush out all the toxins and waste from your carnivorous diet. For my pregnant mommies, these little seeds will help you to banish pregnancy water retention, as they absorb, absorb and absorb water and toxic build up in your body. They will provide you with the proper fats you need as you begin to build and produce colostrom, and a healthy placenta.
For my postpartum mommies, Chia seeds are amazing at helping to shed those pregnancy pounds! Just watch as they flush out your body of excess fluid and toxins, and the benefits from the fiber will speak for themselves. If you have had trouble with constipation or those pesky hemorrhoids, these little seeds will be a lifesaver. Add Chia seeds into your diet to lose the baby weight, while nourishing your body at the same time with antioxidants, Omega's, fiber, calcium, protein and more. I love Chia seeds. I eat them constantly. I would venture to say that in any given day I eat a 1/2-1 cup of Chia seeds, sometimes more or less, depending.
So how do you use Chia seeds? How can you incorporate them into your daily diet? It’s so easy! I eat them all day, every day, and LOVE them. Chia seeds have a completely neutral flavor and color, and therefore integrates seamlessly into almost any recipe. In Mexico, Chia seeds are soaked in fruit juices, and they call it Chia Fresca!
I enjoy toasting a slice of gluten free bread, spreading some organic almond or peanut butter on top with a little bit of raw honey, then sprinkling a load of Chia seeds over the top. It is crunchy, sweet and gives you a HUGE energy boost. I also sprinkle them on top of half an apple with a tablespoon of peanut/almond butter. They are yummy in a yogurt (if you eat dairy), and can be added to fruit salad with some slivered almonds, SO tasty.
Toss a tablespoon or so into nearly every smoothie, and after a little while the seeds turn to gel, and you don’t even notice they are in the smoothie. Especially if you blend them with a berry smoothie; the seeds are so tiny, you can’t differentiate them from the berry seeds!
Daily I try to incorporate Chia seeds into almost every raw snack that I make, including my superfood bars, balls and squares. I sprinkle the seeds on top of my gluten free granola, add them to my quinoa and any other gluten free snacks or baked goods I make.
Here are a couple fantastic recipes to try, I love them and use them frequently! And if you haven't already figured it out, Chia seeds are 100% gluten free!
Recipe: Chia Trail Mix Squares
1/2 Cup Raw Almonds
1 Cup Organic dried Apricots
1/2 Cup Dates
1 Tbsp Lemon Zest
1 tsp Organic/Gluten Free Vanilla
1/2 Tbsp Organic Chia Seeds
Put everything into the food processor, adding the lemon zest and vanilla at the very end. Form into little balls, squares or any other shape you like, and refrigerate!
Recipe: Strawberry Chia Pudding
2 Tsp Organic Chia Seeds
Grind Chia seeds up in a blender or food processor along with chopped strawberries. Mix together with the other ingredients in a bowl, serve chilled! This is a great summer "desert" or you can eat with gluten free (or other) granola in the morning for breakfast!
Where can you find Chia Seeds?