Have you heard of chia seeds before? If not, then you may find this article of interest. Chia seeds are gaining popularity in mainstream food as they are highly nutritious and easy to add to your daily diet. In this article, I will discuss what chia seeds are, their health benefits, and ways in which you can incorporate them into your diet.
What are chia seeds?
Chia seeds are tiny seeds that come from a flowering plant that is part of the mint family and is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. These seeds have been a key part of the diet of the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. Chia seeds are sold in either whole form or ground into a powder and can be black, white or red in colour. While the black or white chia seeds are the same nutritionally, red chia seeds are immature and not of the same nutritional quality. Depending on where you live, you can find chia in your local health food store and even some larger grocery chains.
What are the health benefits of chia seeds?
These tiny seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. With 11 grams per 25 gram serving, chia seeds are extremely high in fibre. As you know, fibre is important for good digestive health. It also helps to remove toxins from the body by binding to the toxin and helping to usher it out of the body as waste. In addition, fibre helps manage your weight by keeping you feeling fuller longer.
Chia seeds are also one of the best plant sources of the essential Omega 3 fatty acid. There are nearly 5 grams of Omega 3 fatty acids in a 25 gram serving of chia seeds – pretty impressive right? If you’ve read my article about fats you’ll know that your body can’t produce Omega 3 and it needs to obtain it from your diet. Omega 3 is also very important for your overall health and vitality.
Furthermore, not only are chia seeds a good source of fibre and Omega 3 fatty acids but they are also an excellent source of protein. A 25 gram serving of chia has about 4.4 grams of protein. In addition, chia, like protein derived from an animal source, is a complete protein (meaning it contains all the essential amino acids), making it an ideal source for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
But hold on to your barbells, there’s more! The fat and fibre contained in chia seeds slow down digestion which in turn helps to stabilize blood sugar thereby keeping insulin levels in check. Keeping blood sugar levels stable is an important part of managing insulin resistance, managing weight and avoiding stubborn belly fat.
Lastly chia seeds are a good source of anti-oxidants and minerals like calcium, manganese and phosphorous. They help lower cholesterol and are a great energy booster (in fact the word chia is derived from the Mayan language meaning “strength”).
How are chia seeds best consumed?
So have I sparked your interest in chia seeds? If so, then you’re going to want to know how you can incorporate these amazing seeds into your diet. Well that’s pretty easy. For one thing, they don’t have to be ground up to obtain their amazing health benefits. So you can buy either the whole form or the ground up form – whatever suits you. I usually buy them in whole form and grind them up if and when I need to. Since they really don’t have any flavour you can easily add them to your smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal or granola. You can sprinkle some on a salad or add them to baked goods to kick up the nutritional value. If you are vegan, you can make a great egg substitute for baking by mixing 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes or so until it starts to gelatinize.
Finally you can use chia seed to make pudding. I take about ¼ cup of chia seeds (makes 4 servings), 1 cup of unflavoured almond milk or water (or use any milk you like), a teaspoon of cinnamon, a ¼ teaspoon of vanilla (optional), and some sliced berries. You can modify this recipe anyway you wish. For example, if you want to further increase the protein content, add protein powder. If you want a chocolate pudding, add cocoa powder. The options are limitless. So feel free to experiment until you find something that suits your pallet and then be sure to share it with us on Mirror Friendly.
One thing I feel is important to note about chia seeds before I sign off is to make sure that you store them in an air tight package in your fridge or freezer. This will help protect those delicate Omega 3 fatty acids from going rancid.
To fitness with love,