Passion For Chia
Among many of my passions is “raw food” (Raw foods and a diet based on this belief is that the most healthful food for the body is uncooked). Although most food is eaten raw, heating food is acceptable as long as the temperature stays below 104 to 118 degrees Fahrenheit (the cutoff temperature varies among those in the raw food community -cooking is thought to denature the enzymes naturally present in food).
One of these raw foods is the chia seed, a species of flowering plant in the mint family that was cultivated by the early Aztec and Mayan cultures and was quite valuable to them for several reasons. They used chia medicinally to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin. It was also the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors; one tablespoon was believed to sustain an individual for 24 hours. Chia is native to central and southern Mexico as well as Guatemala. The tiny seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein and essential minerals, fiber and calcium. When soaked in liquid, the seeds bloom and develop a wonderfully gummy texture that make a great pudding. You can make this as a quick healthy breakfast or snack. If you aren't a pudding person, make sure to add chia seeds to your smoothies, yogurts or snacks to get all the benefits-the seeds expand in liquid and help you feel fuller longer. You can also add the Chia seeds in water or fruit juice, this is consumed daily in Mexico and know as “chia fresca.”
10 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds
Supports Heart Health
Chia seeds can help reduce blood pressure. The seeds contain one of the highest known plant sources of essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). EFAs cannot be synthesized by our bodies however, it is very important that we get enough to support our immune, cardiovascular, nervous and reproductive systems. EFA deficiency is quite common in North America.
Stabilizes Blood Sugar
Chia seeds slow down the rate at which complex carbohydrates are digested and then assimilated into the body. The soluble fiber helps to stabilize blood glucose levels resulting in steady, sustained energy. In one study on diabetic patients, found that blood was thinner and less prone to clotting and blood pressure of participants dropped significantly, after three months of taking Chia seeds daily.
The word “Chia” comes from the Mayan language and means strength. Chia seeds are a balanced blend of protein, carbohydrates, fats and fiber. It is said that 1 tablespoon of Chia can sustain a person for 24 hours. Athletes have reported that Chia seeds help them perform at optimal levels for much longer periods of time.
A number of arthritis sufferers have reported reduced pain and inflammation after a few weeks of taking Chia seeds. The high concentration of omega-3 helps to lubricate joints and keep them supple. Additionally, Omega-3s are converted into prostaglandins which are known to have both pain relieving and anti-inflammatory effects.
The essential fatty acids contained in Chia seeds helps to boost metabolism and promote lean muscle mass. The seeds are sometimes added to food to provide bulk and nutrients while adding very few calories. For these reasons, many people have found Chia quite useful in weight loss and weight maintenance.
Detoxification and Elimination
Similar to psyllium, the swelling action of Chia in the body helps to cleanse and soothe the colon, and absorb toxins while lubricating and strengthening peristaltic action.
High Quality Protein
Chia seeds contain about 20% protein, a higher percentage than found in many other grains such as wheat and rice. Chia seeds contain strontium which helps to assimilate protein and produce high energy.
Chia seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants containing even more antioxidants than fresh blueberries. The high amounts of antioxidants in Chia seeds also keeps the oils from going rancid - contributing to a long shelf life.
Provides Fiber and Other Nutrients
Besides EFAs, Chia seeds also provide fiber, iron, calcium, niacin, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. 2 tablespoons of Chia = 7 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 205 milligrams of calcium, 5 grams omega-3
EFAs are known to make cell membranes more flexible and efficient making nutrients more readily available and nerve transmission more efficient. This helps to improve brain function (including memory and concentration).
Simple Chia Seed Pudding Recipe
1/4 cup chia seeds
2/3 cup water, coconut water or almond milk.
Place the chia seeds in the water or liquid of choice (either warm or cold, whichever you prefer) and stir, stir, stir! Then let the concoction sit in the fridge for 10 minutes and it will form a “pudding-like” consistency. Top your chia pudding with some blueberries, bananas and shredded coconut for a yummy, fast and filling breakfast.
Click here for another yummy recipe from my friend Laura Silverman and her food blog- Glutton for life!!
Until Next Time,