Recently, my local news station did a story about “the latest diet craze”, chia seeds. I certainly wouldn’t call these a craze, or even a diet food, but I thought that I would write about why every health-conscious person should consider adding these into their diet.
You may be thinking, chia… I’ve heard that word before. Yes, it is these seeds that grow the leafy green plant in Chia Pets. Everyone knows the catchy theme, “ch-ch-ch-chia!”, and that probably made it easy for my local news to make fun of these seeds. The story captured local gym members worrying about what kind of green hair would sprout from them if they ate these seeds (I seriously hope they were kidding) and just barely talked about why these seeds are so great (see video of newscast here). So let me go over the benefits of chia seeds and how you can incorporate them into your everyday foods.
The History of Chia Seeds (and why they’re not the “latest” craze)
Chia seeds date back as far as between 1500 and 910 BC in Mexico and the Southwest. Chia seeds were a superfood to the Aztecs and the Mayans. They used chia seeds as a main staple in their diet. It was as important as beans and corn. The Aztec warriors ate chia seeds to sustain themselves for hours. The seeds were even used as a religious offering in Aztec ceremonies and ritual!
The Benefits of Chia Seeds & How They Can Improve Your Health
Here are some of the main benefits of chia seeds.
A healthy heart – the essential fatty acids (EFAs) in chia seeds can help reduce blood pressure and support our immune, cardiovascular, nervous and reproductive systems. The Standard American Diet commonly lacks these EFAs otherwise known as omega-3 and omega-6.
Weight loss – when the seeds are exposed to liquid, a gel begins to form around each seed. Each seed can absorb 9x it’s weight of water, which adds bulk to your food, keeping you fuller longer.
Stable blood sugar – chia seeds contain both soluble and insoluble fibers, which slow down the body’s conversion of carbohydrates into sugars. This can make your blood sugar more evenly distributed to your body over time, which will help prevent blood sugar spikes and dips. The seeds only have a glycemic index of 1.
Help repair muscles – the EFAs in chia seeds can help boost metabolism and promote lean muscle mass. Fast absorption of nutrients is a good thing for regeneration of muscles in athletes.
Get your vitamins – chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants, calcium, protein, fiber, omega-3s, b-vitamins, niacin, thiamin, & boron.
This is a great video explaining all the benefits of Chia Seeds
How to Use Chia Seeds in Your Food
You can add chia seeds to any foods you are already eating. They have the texture of poppy seeds (before they gel up) and have no flavor or odor. I usually add chia seeds to a smoothie or oatmeal. Check out this website for 40 Ways to use Chia Seeds and lots of different recipes.
So there you have it! Chia seeds are not just for growing in hokey terra cotta pots anymore and I promise you will not sprout any leafy greens from your body!