Ch…Ch…Ch…CHIA! The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the super seed. The many Chia Pet commercials watched on how to grow chia seeds from your very own terra-cotta Chia Frog. Gaining popularity in the United States, Chia seeds are making a big comeback. They offer a wonderful source of nutrients that can easily be incorporated into your diet and can easily be purchased from any health food store.
Chia seeds are a small seed that comes from the salvia plant, which is a part of the mint family. Originally grown in South America, Chia seeds were first used as food as early as 3500 BC and were one of the main dietary components of the Aztecs and the Mayans.
Chia seeds are perhaps best known for their high omega-3 fatty acids content. In fact, chia seeds have the highest omega-3s of any vegetarian food. Just one tablespoon of chia seeds contains 2406 mg of omega-3s, and also contains approx. 792 mg omega-6s and 294 mg of omega-9 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are important for brain function and work as an anti-inflammatory in the body.
Another advantage of chia seeds is their ability to help maintain steady blood sugar levels. Chia seeds form a gel in the stomach that slows the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar. Carbohydrates that quickly break down into sugar stimulate a surge of insulin to be released into the blood, causing blood sugar problems. Eating foods such as chia seeds that break down slowly helps blood sugar to rise and fall steadily throughout the day.
Chia seeds also contain a substantial amount of fiber, protein, essential amino acids, calcium and minerals. Available in white and black seeds, some manufacturers state that the white chia seed is superior. However, there is no research to back up this claim and as of now no significant difference.
Incorporating chia seeds into your diet is easy. Simply add to smoothies, yogurt, salads, dressings, cereal, water… anything. They can be eaten both raw or cooked, though cooking them may damage their fragile omega fatty acids. I like to add 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to coconut water and drink first thing in the morning. When adding to liquid, drink fast, as chia will develop into a gel-like consistency. Enjoy!