Naturally Healthy 4 Life's Blog

A blog about health, nutrition, fitness and wellness

Cha-cha-cha Chia!

I had never heard of chia seeds until I bought some gluten-free bread that boasted chia seeds as one of its fabulous ingredients.  I was curious and looked into this interesting little seed.

Chia (salvia hispanica) is a species of flowering plant that is a member of the mint family, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala.  It is grown commercially for its seeds.

Some benefits include:

  • Rich in omega-3 fatty acids (seeds yield 25-30% extractable oil, including a-linolenic acid, aka ALA) – omega 3’s protect against inflammation (arthritis) and heart disease.  Chia seeds actually contain more omega-3’s than salmon and flax seeds!
  • Rich in antioxidants (antioxidants block harmful chemical reactions caused by oxidation – they help promote general health and slow the development of many age-related diseases)
  • High in protein (1 ounce contains 4 grams)
  • High in fiber (1 ounce contains 11 grams) – fiber makes you feel full
  • Contains essential minerals phosphorus, manganese, calcium, potassium, sodium

When added to liquid, they form a gel.  Researchers suggest that this reaction also occurs in the stomach, so when ingested, the gel slows the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them to sugar.

Chia seeds have a nut-like flavor.  They can be eaten raw as a whole seed (sprinkled on cereal, yogurt, salads), ground into a coarse flour (used in baked goods), soaked and used in gruels, porridges and puddings.  They are even consumed in Mexico as beverage called chia fresca by adding the seeds to water or fruit juice.

I enjoy my chia seeds in my morning smoothie.  The seeds quickly expand and soften as they soak in the liquid (I use coconut milk and almond milk).

And if you decide that chia seeds are not for you, you can always moisten and apply them to a terra cotta figurine in the shape of your favorite pet and… (you see where I’m going with this?)

Angela, Chia Chick 🙂

References:

  1. “Salvia hispanica,” Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvia_hispanica)
  2. “What is Chia?”  Ask Dr. Weil (http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA365093/Chia-for-Health.html)

September 30, 2012 Posted by | Health, Nutrition | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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