Dating back to 3500 BC, chia seeds have been a diet staple for centuries. The Aztecs and Mayans loved these seeds for one simple reason: it was believed they improved stamina and energy, two necessary components of life then and now. Fast forward to the Spanish conquest of Latin America, and chia seeds were prohibited as a Spanish diet was forced upon the native people.
Now, when most of us are feeling forced to subsist on a Western diet of fat, salt, sugar and processed food, we’re rewriting history. Chia seeds a healthy superfood are now a staple for many people that want optimal health, except this time we know a lot more about their super powers. If you haven’t yet sprinkled these seeds into your everyday diet, now’s the time to start.
Healthy Reasons to Chomp on Chia:
The Mayans and Aztecs were onto something when they realized that chia seeds increased both stamina and energy. Thanks to modern health science we know exactly why that is. Just two tablespoons contain 18% of your calcium DRI (daily recommended intake), 35% of your phosphorus DRI, 24% of your magnesium DRI and 50% of your manganese DRI. This healthy concoction of necessary minerals equals more energy and a faster metabolism.
As if that wasn’t enough, the benefits don’t stop there.
- · Chia seeds are gluten free.
- · When mixed with liquid these seeds enlarge, forming a gel-like coating around the outside. Vegans, and those watching their cholesterol, can use these to replace eggs. (See the recipe below.)
- · With chia seeds you eat less and feel just as full because they absorb up to 12 times their own weight when mixed with food or liquid, according to Dr. Oz.
- · They’re ideal for diabetics. Experts at FitDay.com said that when chia seeds are ingested they form lining in your stomach, which helps to slow the digestion of sugar into the blood stream.
- · Chia seeds provide 11 grams of fiber per ounce—this is a third of your RDI. Fiber helps regulate your digestive system, lower your LDL, and keeps blood sugar levels steady.
- · With all 8 essential amino acids, this is one of the few complete proteins that are meat free. With just 1 ounce of chia seeds you get close to 5 grams of protein.
How to Incorporate Chia into Your Diet:
The benefits are clear, but perhaps the methods for eating chia seeds are not. Here are a few simple ways to incorporate these ancient seeds into your diet.
Oatmeal: Sprinkle two tablespoons into your oatmeal.
Egg replacement: Mix 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds, or chia seed meal, with 3 tablespoons of water. Let this sit for 15 minutes and use it to replace one egg in baked goods.
Smoothies: Pour 1 to 3 tablespoons of chia seeds in your smoothie as a protein supplement.
Chia Seed Pudding:
Mix 1 cup of milk with 2 tablespoons of chia seeds. Let this sit for 15 minutes.
Add flavoring, such as maple syrup, brown sugar, cocoa powder, or whole fruit—raspberries, blueberries or strawberries—for a delicious and healthy dessert.
The power of chia seeds has long been known; despite the Spanish conquerors’ attempts to erase this ancient seed from the diets of Latin American people, we‘re still benefiting from them today. Whether you need more protein, want to improve your digestion or plan to raise your healthy cholesterol levels, chia seeds are your ticket to better health.