Every now and then, a food source comes along that takes the world by storm. Sometimes it is false hype and at other times, the hype is supported by hard evidence and this is the situation for chia seeds. It may be hard to believe that the humble chia seeds have the nutritional power to become renowned the world over but chia seeds are crammed full of nutritional goodies that can benefit people of all ages.
Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) are native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. Its part of the mint family and it has been said that its origins go back to cultivation during the Aztec times so even then, its benefits were renowned. It is still used throughout Mexico today with whole seeds and ground seeds being added to food anddrink.
The chia plant grows to approximately one metre in height with purple or white clustered flowers. It’s grown commercially in Mexico for its seeds because it is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. The seeds can be eaten raw and provides fats, fiber and proteins. They can also be used in porridge or puddings and placed in water or fruit juice. Ground chia seeds are even used in breads, biscuits and cakes so the variety of uses is an attractive aspect.
There are many essential minerals within chia including calcium, potassium, sodium, manganese and phosphorus and they are comparable to sesame and flax seeds. Essentially chia seeds are functional and nutritious, they do not have a distinctive flavour of their own but this is useful if mixing with different food types because the chia can absorb the flavours of those foods making it quite versatile. Chia seeds are good for everyone from children through to senior citizens; all can enjoy the multitude of benefits if eaten regularly. These seeds are exceptional for those who may not have an overly healthy diet because the seeds are full of proteins, vitamins and minerals and is the richest plant source of omega 3 which is quite a benefit.
The fats within chia seeds can help to protect against inflammation and heart disease so is good for rising cholesterol levels and for weight loss too. It is said that the Aztecs even used chia seeds to help relieve skin conditions and joint pain. The great aspect of chia seeds is that they really are good for you and are so versatile that it’s possible to incorporate them into your diet quite readily. They can be sprinkled onto salads or added to yoghurt, they can be eaten as they are just as a snack or made into drinks.
Chia seeds can help to combat and reduce cravings because when added to water or juice, they soak up the fluids and extend and this makes you feel fuller for longer. If you are looking to lose weight then it’s worth adding chia seeds into your diet as it will help you to avoid those sweet snacks that will threaten the success of your weight loss plan. According to legend, chia seeds boost stamina and just one tablespoon would sustain an Aztec warrior for one whole day. You may not need the energy levels of an Aztec warrior but if you know that your energy levels dip throughout the day, it’s certainly worth carrying some seeds with you so that you can nibble on them when needed.
Chia seeds can be eaten whole and not ground up as per flax seeds and they aid digestion too and can help with colon health providing approximately 7 grams of fiber in each serving.
If you feel that your diet could do with a boost, then consider trying out chia seeds for a few weeks and see what they can do for you. Due to their rising popularity, there is likely to be much more research into the health benefits of chia seeds and there may be even more nutritional good news to come.