Friday, February 22, 2013

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia! Ha ha!!  Sorry, I couldn't resist!  It is absolutely the first thing that everyone thinks of when I mention Chia Seeds.  These little seeds are indeed the same type of seeds that you would paste on pottery to make fluffy garden dog or a furry President Obama character.  Did you know that the food grade versions of Chia Pet seeds are actually edible??!!




Don't be fooled though, even if the thought of consuming a seed (even food grade) that composes most cheap holiday presents actually turns you off, these tiny little miracle seeds pack enough nutrition to make even the best spinach look weak!

So what on earth is a Chia Seed?
  • It is an edible desert seed that comes from a plant called "Salvia Hispanica," is a member of the mint family (believe it or not) and is usually grown in southern Mexico.  
  • These were actually one of the main staples of the diets of the Mayans and Aztecs.
  • They are incredibly small and taste much like a lighter version of a sesame seed.
  • They look like a smaller versions of passion fruit seeds when hydrated.
Nutrition:
1 Tablespoon of Chia Seeds contains

Calories: 60
Total Fat: 4.5g
     Saturated Fat: 0.5g
     Trans Fat: 0g
     Omega-3: 2282mg
     Omega-6: 752mg
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 0mg
Total Carbohydrate: 5g
     Dietary Fiber: 5g
     Sugars: 0g
Protein: 3g

Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 6%
Iron: 4%

Benefits:
  • 1 TABLESPOON of these seeds packs all of that nutrition!  They are slightly comparable to flax seeds and hemp seeds as far as nutrition is concerned.
  • They are high in antioxidants (which fight off the free-radicals in your body that would cause harmful diseases).  
  • They great minerals such as magnesium, phosphrous, manganese, copper, iron and zinc.  
  • The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in this is a great addition to your diet.  They help to raise your good cholesterol (HDL) and lower your bad cholesterol (LDL).  It's like having a small piece of salmon - without having to spend a lot of money and without having to cook it.
  • The high level of fiber is great for your digestive tract.
 Interesting:
  • When you put Chia Seeds in liquid (even cold liquid) for about 20-30 minutes, they form a gel ring around the outside of each seed. 
  • Researchers believe that when consumed, the seeds form that same gel and actually slow down the digestion of carbs converting to sugar - so it may help to balance your blood sugar (and help ward off your sugar crash a little better).
  • This gelatin cal also help stabilize some of your baked goods so that you use less fat in them.  (I am definitely going to come up with some great recipes soon using this fantastic little seed.)
  • The gelatin will actually make you feel fuller, sooner!

Uses:
  • Chia Seeds can be added to just about anything.  I add mine to my breakfast smoothie in the morning to help level my blood sugar.  (I personally enjoy the texture, but you can blend them in the blender for your smoothies).
  • They can be used in many baked goods, savory dishes, ice cream, yogurt and so many other foods.
  • You can add the seeds to your stir fry dishes (much like adding sesame seeds).
  • You can add it to your fresh cooked vegetables to boost the nutrition.
  • Add it to your whole grain pancake or waffle batter for added nutrition.
  • Add it to poppy seed cakes if you run out of poppy seeds.
  • Eat them raw or sprinkle over a fresh garden salad.
  • Make your own version of bubble tea with chia.
  • Basically anything that you can think of could have the addition of chia seeds.
Please Note:
  • I have heard from some sources that Chia Seeds have been known to interact with some medications and even aspirin. As with anything, please consult your doctor if you have any questions about your specific diet and medications.
Where to Find Chia Seeds:
  • I found these seeds and purchased them in a 1 pound bag from the natural health section of my local grocery store (Wegmans).  I purchased mine for $7.99.
  • You may purchase online simply by doing a Google search as well.
  • Bob's Red Mill sells the brand that I most recently purchased.
  • Be careful when purchasing "milled" Chia Seeds.  Any time products are subjected to manufacturing processes, they will start to lose their nutritional value.  This is true of flax seeds as well.  Since the oils in flax are so volatile, unless they are whole seeds and packaged in a dark container, I will not buy them.  Chia and any other nutritional seeds will act much in the same way.
Overall, Chia Seeds are by far one of the most nutritionally dense products around.  I would highly recommend just trying them.  They are very comparable to the texture of sesame seeds.  They don't leave any aftertaste and are actually a pleasant and interesting texture addition to a lot of items.  Don't go snatching the seeds from your Chia Pet box though.  The Chia Seeds I am speaking of a food grade and must meet much more vigorous health standards than the ones that will be pasted on pottery.  Even if you are new to the whole health kick revolution, try Chia Seeds as a first step to re-building your healthier life.

7 comments:

  1. My daughter recently got a Vitamix. I love freezing bananas, strawberries, pineapple blending them together to a soft ice cream consistency - drizzle a little bit of honey and then dumping a few tbsp of chia! I love the texture!!!

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    1. That sounds fantastic! I have chia seeds every day too! I am completely jealous of the Vitamix....it is an absolute staple in professional kitchens and I am saving up for one now :) The Vitamix not only works as a blender, but it breaks the cell walls of the fruits & veggies you put in it, thus leaving you able to consume the optimum nutrition out of the smoothie! Love it!

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    2. I am so new to all of this "clean/paleo/whole foods" eating but I will say, I do eat chia seeds, I have a great spinach fruit smoothie daily with chia seeds and I use my newly purchased Vitamix! All of this has become a staple in my home in the past month so I am learning as I go but am enjoying it every bit of the way!

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    3. @Anonymous - so glad to hear you are on the path to better health! It is so incredible & fascinating that what we feed our bodies (the quality of the foods) has a direct impact on our health in such a critical way. Best of luck in your health quest! We're right with ya! :)

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  2. These are my favorite addition. We put them in our oatmeal!

    nauticalowl.blogspot.com

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  3. dont know if its true but do they help you loose wheight as well?

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    1. The theory behind the weight loss with chia seeds is that they expand & turn gelatinous in your stomach when you eat them, thus filling you up quicker. Weight loss - and what I know from my 110 pound loss twice, is that it all comes down to numbers. If you consume more than you burn, you will gain weight. If you consume less than you burn, you will lose weight. But anything that will help make you feel fuller, will help curb your cravings and help avoid unnecessary snacking :)

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