The Year of the Chia

English: Chia (Salvia columbariae) seeds Franç...

Chia Seeds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year seems to be the year of the chia seed. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard or read about their use as a dietary supplement to aid with everything from improving heart health to providing energy for endurance events such as distance running.

Chia seeds are native to southern Mexico and Guatemala and are thought to have been a staple food of the native Aztecs thousands of years ago. In the 1980’s, chia seeds were marketed for use with the Chia Pet, a novelty item that grew the seeds into specific shapes. Now, chia seeds have emerged as a dietary supplement claiming numerous health benefits.

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

  • Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, which are excellent for improving heart health.
    The amount of omega 3 in chia seeds is comparable to the amount in flax seeds.
  • They are high in dietary fiber, which aids the digestive system and elimination. One tablespoon of chia seeds contains 5 grams of fiber. Since chia seeds “plump up” when added to liquid, the fiber in chia seeds also help you feel full.
  • Chia seeds can be used to lower glucose levels, which is great for diabetics.
  • Endurance athletes, like distance runners, use chia seeds for additional energy.

How to Enjoy Chia Seeds

Chia seeds have almost no taste so you can add them to just about any food or drink and you probably won’t have an issue with the flavor; however, they definitely “plump up” when you add them to liquid, so if you don’t like the feel of slightly slimy foods, they may not be for you.

  • Try adding one tablespoon of chia seeds to 8 to 12 ounces of water, fruit juice or smoothie for your next beverage.
  • Make your own chia seed gel to use as an egg substitute in baked goods (one part chia seed to six parts water).
  • Sprinkle the dry chia seeds on your favorite food like oatmeal, salad, or yogurt for a delicious fiber filled meal.

Warnings

It is not recommended to take chia seeds if you are pregnant, nursing, or have low blood pressure. Chia seeds may also interfere with some medications and have been shown to increase the risk of prostate cancer in men, so be sure to consult your physician
before use.

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvia_hispanica

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/06/03/chia-seed-benefits-_n_3379831.html

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7928/the-amazing-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds.html

http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=101.54

http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/ask-diet-doctor-should-i-eat-flaxseeds-chia-seeds-and-hemp-seeds

http://ic.steadyhealth.com/chia_seeds_side_effects.html

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