The Health Benefits and Uses of Chia Seeds
Remember the Chia Pet? The TV novelty where you would coat seeds on to a clay sculpture and eventually it would sprout grass like fuzz? Bet you never thought that one day you’d see people putting those seeds in and on almost anything they could. It’s true; the same seeds that make up the Chia Pet of years past are now the latest health and nutrition power foods.
Health Benefits and Uses of Chia Seeds
What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are a whole grain edible seed that comes from a desert plant grown in Mexico. Consumption of chia seeds date back to Mayan and Aztec culture where they were used because of their natural ability to boost energy. The unprocessed seed can be absorbed by the body in seed form (unlike flax seeds that need to be ground) which makes it easy to add to food. Chia seeds contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and carbohydrates.
What are the Health Benefits of Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds contain Omega-3 fatty acids (the healthy fat) and are considered to be the richest plant source of Omega-3’s. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to protect against inflammation including arthritis and heart disease.
Chia seeds are able to absorb up to 10 times their weight in water and forms a gel like substance when it does. This process helps you to feel full longer. In addition this gel like substance provides hydration for the body thus making chia seeds very popular with athletes.
Chia seeds are being researched as a natural way to control type II Diabetes. The formation of the chia gel slows down digestion which helps control blood sugar and prevents blood sugar spikes. Chia seeds also contain approximately one third of the daily recommendation of fiber which is important for overall digestive health.
How do You Use Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds come in both black and white varieties and can be found in most grocery stores, specialty health food stores, and online.
As mentioned previously, Chia seeds can be absorbed by the body in their seed form making them quite versatile. They have a mild nut-like flavor and can be added to almost anything. You can sprinkle raw chia seeds on to your yogurt or oatmeal. You can also toast them and toss them with your salads to add a nice crunch.
Depending on your tolerance of strange textures, chia seeds and be mixed with fruit juices to make a gel-type substance. Some people with texture issues may find this off putting but the gel itself carries its own benefits like keeping the body hydrated. There are also a number of drinks on the market now that have chia seeds in them. The drinks are sweet and the seeds have a slight gummy texture around them.
For people who are vegan or choose not to eat eggs chia seeds can be used as an egg replacement in baked goods. Simply mix one tablespoon of ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and mix. This is the equivalent of one egg.
Chia seeds are quickly gaining popularity and are beginning to pop up almost everywhere. From salad bars to drinks filled with chia seeds this power food is showing promise in improving health and wellbeing.