I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy chia seeds mixed in with my yogurt every morning. Or how about added to a quick chocolate shake to hold you for hours, and aid in weight-loss? Yes, I am talking about the ch-ch-ch-chia pet seeds… that old product many of us have seen as kids. But if you knew what I know, you might stop laughing and grab your spoon.
We talked about Chia seeds before and gave you some of the basics in Chia – More Than Fun…A Truly Functional Superfood. If you want to read why flax seeds are not as high of a superfood as chia seeds, then do checkout that article. Also, chia seeds don’t have the issue with going rancid that flax seeds do. Let’s get back on topic and see what will make you, “grab your spoon”.
Chia seeds are a complete source of protein, and provide all the essential amino acids in an easily digestible form. Want a great source of soluble fiber? You got it! How about a food that can help hold you better between meals? Sounds like a way to help cut some calories if you are looking for some weightloss tricks. Here is the trick. Just mix some hydrated chia seeds (instructions below) in with your food and you will eat less. Why? The food has been bulked up with the hydrated chia, which holds at least 9 times its volume in water. See how easy it can be to eat less calories? Now you have a great serving of a nutrient-rich superfood. But it doesn’t stop there! Chia is high in fiber, which helps to promote a satisfied feeling after eating it while slowing intestinal transit time, helping you feel full longer on less food.
Time Release Water & Protien
Chia seeds are highly hydrophilic, and will hold lots of water. In earlier times, tribesmen would make up a mixture of chia seeds and water when they had to cross expanses where water was sparse. Today, runners are discovering they can have a hydration source that helps retain electrolytes, and provides protein at their finger tips in an easy to drink source. Long distance runners now understand that chia gel (hydrated chia) does not slosh in the stomach, (believe me this is not a fun experience for a runner and can lead to side-of-the-road visits). You can use it as a great way to get water in when going on those exhausting mall excursions for a true shop-till-you-drop experience. Try this delicious Chia Fresca!
Sports Vitamins & Minerals
Chia has the right vitamins for physical activity. B vitamins thiamin (B1), riboflavin, (B2) and niacin (B3) are all needed for nerve transmission, and energy production. Two tablespoons of chia provides more niacin than a slice of whole wheat bread without the easily digestible carbs turning to sugar. Niacin is a part of over 200 enzymatic reactions in the body, including fatty-acid synthesis, and cholesterol synthesis. Yup, there are studies showing niacin plays a part in healthy cholesterol levels.
Next on the list is Calcium. That same two tablespoons of chia has more than 6 times the calcium of a glass of whole milk, 714 milligrams to be exact. Calcium is important to althletes, since it is responsible for muscle contractions. And don’t forget calcium, without magnesium, is about useless. Magnesium is needed to help absorb calcium, and is necessary for muscles to relax. Yes, it is in chia in large amounts; about 390 milligrams. Actually, everyone can benefit from these two minerals since the heart is a muscle that contracts and relaxes quite often, daily. 🙂
Iron rounds out the big vitamins needed for activity. The blood has to have proper levels of iron in order to transport oxygen throughout the body, and that is important for activity and life. Four milligrams of iron are in that two tablespoon serving of chia.
Supporting vitamins that chia includes list out as potassium, zinc, and trace minerals (boron, copper, and manganese). All play supporting roles when the body is active.
Help To Diabetics
Because of the gel created by the chia seeds when hydrated in water, the impact of sugars on the body is slowed. A barrier is formed by the chia gel, which keeps digestive enzymes from quickly breaking down the carbohyrates that normally give you a sugar spike. This could be a great benefit to diabetics, as they could mix chia seeds with foods higher in sugar, and help reduce the sugar spike issue.
A study in Canada (2007) was conducted with type 2 diabetes. The diabetics that received chia experienced reduced inflammation, a drop in blood pressure, and a significant decrease in fibrinogen levels (associated with blood clots). In fact the researchers stated that chia improved major and emerging cardiovascular risk factors of people with type 2 diabetes.
Easy Digestion & Healthy Fiber
When the hydrated chia seeds are digested, their nutrients are quickly assimilated by the body. The fiber in the chia seeds helps your colon stay clean by aiding in dislodging and eliminating old waste as it sweeps through your intestinal track. Some people report their stools become more regular when eating chia seeds often. Add in some other great facts: Chia is gluten-free, reasonably priced, a concentrated food, and very versatile when mixing with many types of foods. Reaching for that spoon yet?
Can Help So Many
We have to come to a close soon, but before we do, let me share a few more benifits of chia. Heart and blood vessel health, bone density, joint health, gut health, anti-cancer, PMS, skin, eyes, and vision. Wow, that is some list. I did not even go into the antioxidants in Chia, maybe we will do that another day. What are you waiting for? Chia has come back into popularity, and can be found at many local markets, and health food stores.
Chia can be eaten dry, on salads, or added to liquids.
Hydrated Chia Seeds (Chia Gel)
Measure out 1 tablespoon of chia seeds into a jar. Add 9 tablespoons of water, stir, wait a minute, stir some more, repeat till the seeds have created their mucilaginous gel and are evenly distributed. Put a lid on the jar and chill in the fridge. This mixture will last for a few days making it easy to spoon out what you need to add into foods. You can make as much or little of this mixture as you need using the 1:9 seed/water ratio.
This mixture can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 weeks or more. Personally, it never lasts that long, as we use it multiple times daily.
Share how you use Chia seeds in the comments below. And please do consider adding Chia seeds to your daily diet.