Chia Seeds

The word chia (Salvia Hispanica) means strength so try these super-seed for yourself and see if you agree.  In South America, as far back as 3000 BC, Chia Seeds had been a staple of daily nutrition and commerce in Pre-Columbian societies. In Mayan and Aztec life, the seed was so important, it was incorporated into religious ceremonies and tribal trading, you can find the seed harvest time outlined in ancient Aztec calendars.  It is said the Aztec warriors would sustain their body’s strength and endurance with a daily spoon full of seeds when on long expeditions.  Ancient societies referred to these little seeds as “Warrior Food” and “Running Food”.

 

Nutritional Benefits of Chia seeds:

  • A nutritional powerhouse loaded with vitamins and minerals are an excellent source of fiber, protein, and antioxidants, the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids.

-2.5 times more protein than kidney beans.  One of nature’s highest plant-based sources of a complete protein

-3 times the antioxidant strength of blueberries

-3 times more iron than spinach

-6 times more calcium than milk and a rich source of magnesium and boron (which helps the body assimilate and use calcium)

-7 times more vitamin C than oranges

-6 to 8 times more omega-3 than salmon and contains about at 2 to 1 ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6

-10 times more fiber than rice

-15 times more magnesium than broccoli

  • Consumption of chia seeds could help reduce joint pain, aid in weight loss, deliver an energy boost and protect against serious ailments such as diabetes and heart disease.
  • The seeds are gluten-free, which also makes them appealing to people with celiac disease or an aversion to gluten.
  • Chia seeds are a source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of “short-chain” omega-3 fatty acid, whereas fish is a source of the “long-chain” fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  Studies are now suggesting that ALA may bring about redistribution associated with heart and liver protection.
  • The Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to help prevent cancer and heart disease, increase immune and brain function, prevent and treat neurological disorders and for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and depression.
  • According to a recent study, rats fed chia seed supplements were protected from heart and liver problems associated with a high-fat diet, including improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, reduced visceral adiposity, decreased liver fat, and lower cardiac and hepatic inflammation and fibrosis. (The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry Vol. 23, Issue 2, Pages 153-162 February 2012).
  • The research, from the University of Queensland, Australia, revealed that the chia seeds brought about lipid redistribution in the rats, with lipids trafficked away from the visceral fat and the liver. (NutriIngredients.com)
  • Chia seeds have become popular with athletes as the seeds can increase endurance and stamina; it’s an excellent source of cholesterol free protein, which is necessary for healthy muscle building.   Chia can prolong the carbohydrate conversion into sugar which stabilizes metabolic changes, diminishing the surges of highs and lows creating a longer duration in their fueling effects and improving endurance.  You also get the added benefit of an appetite suppressant
  • Chia seed can absorb more than 12 times its weigh in water prolonging hydration and improving the body’s absorption of nutrients and body fluids.  With greater efficiency in the utilization of bodily fluids, the electrolyte balance is maintained.
  • Chia seeds also add soluble fiber to the diet and as they bulk create lubricating mucilage for the intestines that increases bowel activity and relieves constipation.
  • Chia’s hydrophilic colloidal properties aid the digestion of any foods contributing to the patients suffering as a result of a sour stomach. Even if you have sensitivity to certain foods, they may be tolerated with slight discomfort or none at all.
  • The positive effects on the digestion in the upper portion of the gastrointestinal tract often leads to puree their foods may find benefits from hydrophilic colloids which may lead to eliminating the necessity for pureeing. Even raw vegetables, green salads and fruits, which are largely restricted, may often be given to these patients with little or no discomfort after a short time.
  • Anti-oxidants help prevent free-radical damage in your body. Free radicals lead to problematic conditions such as premature aging of the skin and inflammation of various tissues.
  • Also used by the Indians and missionaries as a poultice for gunshot wounds and other serious injuries by packing the wounds with Chia seeds to avoid infections and promote healing.
  • If you place a seed or two in your eyes it will clean your eyes and will also help to clear up any infections.

Inflammation Reduction
Inflammation plays a big part in increased risk of heart attack. In many ways in can be an early indicator of various problems associated with heart disease in healthy adults, both men and women. Weight loss, drugs and improved diet can act as interventions and some studies have reported reduction of inflammation levels. Chia seed could be offered to anyone with a family history of heart disease or stroke.

Blood Pressure Reduction
Millions of adults are at risk hypertension, and many of those receiving using traditional drugs don’t get the results they require. Often times a good diet can do as much as pharmacy prescriptions. Studies have shown eating chia seed regularly may help reduce diastolic and systolic blood pressure comparable to the effects of medically supplied anti-hypertensive agents without the side effects. The chia nutrients listed above may be the reason for these amazing effects.

Blood Thinning Benefits
Thick blood can reduce circulation and be a precursor to various heart problems. Similar to aspirin, chia seed show positive effects on the treatment and prevention of heart disease ailment by reducing inflammation and displaying properties similar to traditional blood thinners. Even without any signs of heart problems this can be beneficial as a preventive procedure to those who are predisposed to heart conditions. Diets rich in nutrients are essential in preventing numerous cardiovascular diseases and increasing overall longevity.

Diabetes Maintenance and Prevention
Blood sugar may spike after meals, especially if you eat high-starchy foods or sweets leading to low energy. By balancing your blood sugar you lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and ensure steady constant energy throughout your day.

But how does the Chia Seed help with this? Both the gelling action of the seed and its unique combination of soluble and insoluble fiber combine to slow down your body’s conversion of starches into sugars. If you eat chia with a meal, it will help you turn your food into constant, steady energy rather than a series of ups and downs that wear you out.

Weight Management
Chia seeds unique gelling action keeps you feeling full for hours.  The gel-forming action is due to soluble fiber and water, it has no calories.   As the seeds coagulate liquid they begin to bulk in size and create a feeling of fullness in your stomach.  By eating 1-3 tablespoons of chia seeds at least 30 minutes to an hour before your meal, the feeling of fullness will take hold before you get a chance to gulp down those unwanted calories.

Preparing Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are safe and healthy for anyone to consume, the recommended dosage is 1-4 tablespoons per day.  Chia seeds can be used similarly to flax seed, however, the shells are easily broken down, even when swallowed whole. This is an improvement over flax seed, which have to be ground up to be digested properly. If you eat flax seed whole, it will just pass through.  Mix a spoonful of Chia in a glass of water and leaving it for approximately 20-30 minutes, when you return the glass will contain gel or an almost solid gelatin.

The seeds have mild to no flavor and will change the flavor of foods.  This makes it easy to add to a dressing, dip, salsa, sauce, smoothie, pudding, or just about anything.  Sprinkle them on yogurt or salad, use milled seeds for baking or soak the seeds until they form a gel that can be added to a variety of recipes.

Chia gel can substitute for half the butter or oil in most recipes, the food will bake the same and taste the same.  Everything from cookies to cakes to muffins, pancakes and waffles can be made with chia gel as your butter or oil replacement.

The anti-oxidants in chia can even help keep the food tasting fresh longer. At room temperature, chia seeds stay fresh and ready to eat for over two whole years! And that’s all without a single chemical or preservative.

Chia Milk
2 cups vanilla almond milk, unsweetened
1 Tbsp. raw xagave
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
Mix well and drink

 

Book Recommendation:

Chia: The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfood by Wayne Coates

Sources:

  1. Super Seeds Organics (accessed June 7, 2012) http://www.superseeds.ca/ss1/benefits_aging.html
  2. The Globe and Mail (accessed June 7, 2012) article4097411 http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/is-chia-the-new-superfood/article4097411/
  3. NutraIngreadients.com (accessed June 7, 2012) http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Chia-seeds-may-offer-omega-3-heart-and-liver-benefits-Study
  4. MySeedsChia.com (accessed June 7, 2012) http://www.mychiaseeds.com/index.html
  5. Living and Raw Foods (accessed June 7, 2012) http://www.living-foods.com/articles/chia.html
  6. I create Wisdom.com (accessed June 7, 2012) http://icreatewisdom.com/chiaseed.html
  7. Prevent Disease (accessed June 7, 2012) Are Chia Seeds the Perfect Superfood. http://preventdisease.com/news/12/060712_Are-Chia-Seeds-The-Perfect-Superfood.shtml
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