Ch-ch-ch chia! Does anyone remember that popular jingle from the 80s and 90s? Chia Pets were first introduced in the late 1970’s and became far more popular than I think anyone would have imagined. Chia Pets are used to sprout chia seeds. Moistened chia seeds are applied to the body of the Chia Pet and as the sprouts grow they begin to resemble an animal’s fur or a person’s hair. Check out this Chia Pet that resembles Willie Robertson from Duck Dynasty. Nothing screams duck calls and duck hunting like a man with a chia sprout beard, right?
The Chia seeds that are responsible for Willie’s Chia Pet beard are again making their way into the news, this time because of their nutritional value and increasing popularity.
What Are Chia Seeds?
This is a good question. Chia seeds come from a plant that is typically grown in Mexico. Chia seeds are a concentrated food source that contain a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, antioxidants and calcium. Chia means strength and the chia seed is often seen as an energy booster. It has a relatively mild flavor and is known for its many health benefits.
According to the Wellness Mama, “one tablespoon of chia seeds has more calcium than a glass of milk, more omega-3s than salmon and more antioxidants than blueberries!” Chia Seeds are another one of nature’s true superfoods!
Chia seeds have a gelatinous coating which may be helpful for type-2 diabetics. The seeds may help slow down digestion and may also help prevent spikes in blood sugar.
Chia seeds are also loaded with fiber! A one-ounce serving contains 11 grams of fiber which is about 1/3 of the recommended daily intake for adults. Skip the fiber bars which are loaded with sugar and GMOs, and go for an ounce of chia seeds instead!
Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to play a number of important roles within the body including reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure. Omega-3s are also being studied to see how they impact conditions such as arthritis and depression. Chia seeds are full of omega-3 fatty acids and contain nearly 5 grams per 1oz serving. An ounce of chia seeds per day can help ensure you’re receiving the proper amount of omega-3s.
Chia seeds are also full of calcium. One serving contains 18% of the recommended daily intake for calcium. We all know calcium is important for strong teeth, bones and for helping prevent osteoporosis.
Manganese is a nutrient that is often forgotten but is important none the less. Manganese helps your body use essential nutrients and keep your bones healthy. A single serving of chia seeds contains 30% of the recommended intake for manganese. Starting to see a trend?
Chia seeds may also have an affect on blood pressure, especially in diabetics and are full of antioxidants that can help protect the body from free radicals, certain cancers and aging.
I could go on and on about the benefits of chia seeds but I think you have the gist of it. Another great benefit that chia seeds offer is that they are extremely versatile. I was surprised to learn some of the ways chia seeds can be used. Here are a few of my favorites, again from the Wellness Mama.
Chia Seed Uses
Chia seeds can be used as an egg substitute. To do so, use 1 tablespoon of finely ground chia seeds and 3 tablespoons of water per egg in a baked recipe.
In a healthy pudding. I’m slightly skeptical of this one because when I think pudding I expect a chocolate snack pack but it’s worth giving it a try. This pudding uses the following recipe:
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon or more of sweetener (Stevia would make a great natural sweetener)
- Blend until smooth. Let sit in the fridge for about 10 minutes or until thickened.
As a thickener. Instead of using cornstarch or other thickening agents add a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds until you reach the desired thickness.
Use them as a breakfast topper! Add them to the top of your cereal, oatmeal or yogurt for extra nutrition–you probably won’t even notice they’re there!
If you’re gluten-free you can also ground up chia seeds to replace all-purpose flower for baking. You can also try chia seed breading in your recipes.
Chia Seeds for Weight Loss?
There is some talk about chia seeds being a great weight loss agent. The idea is that chia seeds act like a sponge – they absorb sugar and can help stabilize the blood sugar. As I mentioned, these seeds are high in fiber and have a gelatinous coating so when placed in water or a liquid-like mixture (such as oatmeal) they do expand and absorb some of that water.
That said, chia seeds are not a miracle food and while they are absorbent, they won’t absorb the extra 10 pounds you might be carrying around. They are however, a great addition to a healthy diet and are a simple way to add omega-3s, antioxidants and fiber into your diet.
Now that you know all the benefits and uses of Chia Seeds be sure to check out Natural Healthy Concepts’ selection by clicking here! We have a great variety of products and offer free shipping on all orders in the U.S.
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