Food Focus: Chia Seeds
Chia is a species of flowering plant in the mint family, it is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. It was cultivated by the Aztecs, and used as a food back in the 15th century. 'Chia' is actually the mayan word for strength. The seeds were used by these ancient cultures as a mega-energy food, expecially for their running messengers. In Mexico they say that 1 tablespoon of chia seeds can sustain a person for 24 hours!
Chia is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and in a 28 gm sample (approx. 3 tbsp) it is said to contain:
- 9% of our daily protein intake
- 13% fat
- 42% dietary fibre (as a measure only - these percentages are based on 2000 calories, (because we don't count those around here))
- the essential minerals, phosphorus, manganese, calcium, potassium and sodium
- plus 3 times the reported antioxidant strength of blueberries.
The seeds absorb water and create a mucilaginous gel. Because of the high antioxidant content, the seeds stay stable for longer, compared to flax for example that may turn rancid. Chia can be stored for 4-5 years without detioriation.
Now, for some of it's medicinal benefits:
- weight loss - because of it's bulky nature, when added to food it helps 'fill us up', it's sustaining.
- provides energy
- boosts strength
- maintains blood sugar levels - great for diabetics
- aids intestinal regularity - when they bulk up, they work like a digestive broom, sweeping through the intestinal tract, helping dislodge and eliminate old accumulated waste in the intestines. This is helpful for digestive illlnesses eg reflux, IBS, coeliac disease etc.
- lowers blood pressure
- lowering cholesterol
Due to their water-absorption quality, it can help prolong hydration and the retaining of electrolytes, especially during exertion.
There is no nutritional difference between black and white chia seeds.
This is more dependent on where and how they're grown.
That's all well & good... but, what's the best way to eat them?
Check out the zesty, sweet dessert here & a few other ideas.
This information was sourced from Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, along with the research and work of Dr Wayne Coates, a world leader in the research of Chia.