Chia seeds seem to be a new fad in natural food stores, supplement companies and even in protein shakes now, but their benefits truly do not seem to be a fad to me. Chia seeds are a member of the mint family and yes, they are those fuzzy headed plants you see advertised at Christmas. So why would I want to add chia seeds to my diet?
- Chia is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seeds. And it has another advantage over flax: chia is so rich in antioxidants that the seeds don't deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid.
- Chia seeds, unlike flax, are readily available to the body. Flax seeds must be ground to make their nutrients available to the body.
- Chia seeds also provide fiber (25 grams give you 6.9 grams of fiber) as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc.
- Chia seeds are 16 percent protein, 31 percent fat, and 44 percent carbohydrate, of which 38 percent is fiber. Most of its fat is the essential omega-3 fatty acid – alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It’s also high in antioxidants… as much as 8 times higher than blueberries.
- When added to water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, chia forms a gel. Researchers suggest that this reaction also takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar.
- Chia seeds are not some new fad in the food industry - chia (from the desert plant salvia hispanica) was a major crop in central Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C. and was still cultivated well into the 16th century AD. Supposedly after the Spanish conquest, authorities banned it because of its association with religious ceremonies. They were also the staple of Mayan and Aztec warriors - Chia means "strength" in Mayan. Some sites I reviewed stated that one tablespoon of chia seeds was believed to sustain an individual for 24 hours. The Aztecs also used chia medicinally to stimulate saliva flow and to relieve joint pain and sore skin.
- Given the shelf life and amazing nutrient rich content of chia, we keep some in our Hurricane survival kit now
- Believe what you want about its history, chia seeds make awesome vegan puddings without added sugar or processed foods!
Makes 1 serving of chia pudding
1 Tbls chia seeds soaked in 1 cup of water for a minimum of 30 minutes
1 apple, cored
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 dates, pitted
2 Tbls raisins (optional)
2 Tbls walnuts, chopped (optional)
I took pictures of the time lapse of my chia seed soak that I'll post at the end of the recipe because it is pretty interesting to me that one tiny seed can absorb 4 times its weight in water!
- Add the first 4 ingredients to a high powered blender and blend for about 30 seconds until all ingredients are pureed
- Pour into a cereal bowl, top with raisins and walnuts and enjoy!