Have your heard about the amazing benefits of chia seeds? Now, I’m not talking about chia pets! I’m talking about adding chia seeds into your diet as a good source of protein, healthy fat and other good-for-you nutrients. Get your chia seeds and even more yummy superfoods delivered right to your door by Sunburst Superfoods.
Chia is a hardy flowering plant that is part of the mint family. It is native to Central and South America and has been used for centuries as a food crop and to make nutritious and delicious drinks. It was part of the daily food supply for the ancient Mayans and the Aztecs. These powerful seeds were even used by Aztec warriors! They believed that only one tablespoon could keep someone going for 24 hours! After the Spanish conquest of the New World, growing chia seeds was actually banned – maybe because they worked so well?
So, what is so amazing about this little seed? Well, they are a HUGE source of healthy omega-3 oils. The chia seed is actually a better source of these healthy oils than flax seeds! In fact, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), one ounce (or 28 grams) of chia seeds contains 11 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein. They also contain minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium, iron and manganese. And, chia seeds are also a good source of copper, zinc, magnesium and the B-vitamin niacin.
In the last few years, chia seeds have gained a number of celebrity cheerleaders, including Dr. Oz, who lists chia as one of his “Top 5 Supplements”! Not so bad for a tiny little seed, is it? Dr. Oz talks up chia seeds as beneficial for weight reduction, particularly for those of us who have a few years under our (expanding) belts! While there haven’t been a lot of scientific studies on chia, one study showed that in patients with diabetes, including chia seeds in their diet was effective in lowering their blood pressure.
You can use chia seeds whole, sprinkling them over cereal, salads, yogurt or a stir fry. They add a mild, nutty flavor to your meals. You can also grind up chia seeds and mix it into whatever you’re baking. They can generally be substituted in any recipe that calls for flax, almond or nut flour. But, that’s not all! Because chia seeds expand to form a gel when they are added to liquid, they help to make us feel full and satisfied without adding many calories. You can substitute chia gel for some of the butter, or other fats in recipes to boost the nutrition and cut the fat calories of the dish.
Dr. Andrew Weil is another promoter of the health benefits of chia. He says that you can use chia seeds to make your own chia Fresca: Two teaspoons of chia seeds are mixed into about 8-10 ounces of water. The water will thicken slightly, and then stir in lime or lemon juice and honey (or stevia) to taste! You could also add a sprig of mint for a chia julep! I have noticed that chia seeds don’t really have a distinctive flavor of their own. They sort of “melt” into whatever you mix them with. So, you can get the health benefits of chia without changing the taste of the recipe you’re making.
So, what are some of the specific advantages to adding chia seeds to your diet?
- The omega-3 oil content in chia seeds is high. Omega-3 oils are the healthy fats we hear so much about and are very useful as anti-inflammatory agents.
- Chia reportedly has three times higher antioxidant levels than blueberries, which have been considered the king (or queen) of antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent damage caused by high levels of free radicals.
- Chia seeds are high in fiber. This makes them very useful in preventing the spikes in blood sugar that are associated with insulin resistance and diabetes. Also, the fiber in chia seeds can help you regulate your bowel movements, preventing constipation and ensuring your daily comfort.
- Chia seeds are also high in complete proteins. This can be especially important in older people, who need more protein but who can have decreased appetite. It’s also vital for vegetarians and vegans since complete proteins are rare in the plant world.
- Chia seeds are very stable. They don’t have to be stored in the refrigerator, as most people recommend for flax seeds.
- Chia seeds seem to be able to help support a positive mood, better concentration and mental focus. This may very well be due to the omega-3 oils found in chia seeds.
- Chia seeds, as Dr. Oz says, can be very useful for weight loss plans AND to help you increase the effectiveness of your exercise plan because they have what your body needs to develop lean muscle mass.
- Chia seeds are very easily digested. If you are gluten- sensitive, you can use chia seeds or chia flour instead of gluten-full products; there have been no reports of problems when gluten-sensitive people eat chia seeds or products.
Last, but not least, Chia seeds are a great value for your wallet as well – they really give you a whole lot of bang for your buck! They are so high in so many necessary nutrients, are so easy to add into any daily meal plan and they’re affordable too. With Dr. Weil and Dr. Oz backing the tiny little chia seed, expect more and more people to see the value in this tiny but mighty seed!
Don’t forget to check out Sunburst Superfoods for chia seeds and much more to bulk up the nutrition in your pantry.
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