Most people have heard of chia seeds in connection with those little pets that grow “hair” when sprinkled with the seeds. They were very popular around the holidays for several seasons. Much like hemp granola, a big focus today is on finding super foods that offer very high nutritive value. Since so many people are conscious of the fact that what we eat affects our health, these seeds are worth taking a look at because they have so many benefits.
The ancient Aztecs used chia seeds, as did the Native Americans of the Southwest. This food provided hydration in times of war when water was not readily available. Chia seeds can absorb 12 times their weight in water, so hydration is prolonged which is good for people today as well. Many long-distance runners add chia seeds to bottled water, and they claim that they don’t need to make as many water stops on their run because the seeds help their body stay hydrated.
Chia seeds are also high in protein that is absorbed quickly. They have twice the amount of protein as other seeds and grains. They are full of healthy oils, and are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, such as vitamins A, D, E, & K. These unsaturated fats help the body provide oxygen to the cells, organs, and tissues. Chia seeds can also lower triglycerides and reduce cholesterol in the arteries. With all of these benefits, there is still more – chia seeds are also a great source of calcium, and they help the body absorb this mineral into the system.
Because of these great qualities, chia seeds are often used in alternative medicine for preventing and improving certain diseases, such as diabetes. The chia seeds contain soluble fiber so they form a gel in the stomach that blocks some carbohydrates from turning into sugar in the stomach. Research has shown that the seeds also help reduce blood pressure.
Chia seeds are the dieters dream come true because they may block the absorption of some of the calories taken in, and they provide a feeling of satisfaction and fullness. The best part of all is that they absorb the taste of the food they’re added to. Chia seeds can be baked into breads, brownies, and cooked into other foods without altering the taste of the food. Some people mix them into salsa or yogurt. The seeds don’t need to be ground up like flax seeds to get the benefits from them.
It’s not necessary to eat a lot of the chia seeds either. Only a few teaspoons a day are usually enough. For people who cannot easily digest nuts and other seeds, chia seeds are the one seed that is easy on the system. It aids in regularity and can even be eaten by those with diverticulitis and other digestive problems.
The scientific name for chia seeds is salvia hispanica. The tiny seeds are part of the mint family that grows in Mexico and in Southwestern United States. There are several varieties of the seeds that can be bought online or in health food stores. Seeds may be whole or ground and come in different colors, such as white, black, brown, and mixed seeds. Most natural food advocates claim that there is little nutritional difference between white and black seeds. Some say that white seeds contain slightly more protein while black ones have a bit more antioxidants. Some people cook with the seeds, and others eat them raw after they are mixed with water to form a gel. They can also be eaten raw, as alfalfa sprouts in a salad, as a garnish, or on a sandwich.