Chia Seeds – What’s the Big Deal?
In maintaining healthy eating habits, finding foods that offer a lot of nutritional bang for the buck are essential to success. One surprising source is reminiscent of an old infomercial: Ch-ch-ch-chia! When you hear that name, images of a cartoon-shaped clay pot sporting green sprouts for hair may come to mind, but don’t let that deter you! Chia seeds are more than odd decoration for your bookshelves, they are an ancient super-food loaded with benefits for your whole body, all packed into an unassuming tiny black seed. These seeds have recently made a big stir in healthy living, so keep reading to learn more about their history, health benefits and discover easy ways to include chia seeds in your diet.
An Ancient History
Chia seeds have been around for thousands of years, and figured prominently in ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures. The seeds are harvested from the desert plant salvia hispanica, and come in black and white varieties. The word chia comes from the Mayan word meaning “strength,” and for good reason. Chia seeds were a big part of the Aztec and Mayan diet, offering sustained energy to a culture of long-distance runners. It’s only been in recent years that these seeds have returned to come to the healthy living center stage. Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia are currently the top producers of the seed in South America, and with a climate conducive to growing the seed, Australia is getting in on the chia craze as well.
What Chia Seeds Bring to the Table
The tiny black seeds pack a wallop of high-quality nutrients with a low carb count. In just a one ounce serving, you get 11 grams of fiber, four grams of protein and nine grams of fat (half of which are omega-3s) along with a healthy dose of calcium, manganese and magnesium. A diet that is high in fiber helps to prevent diseases like diabetes and heart disease. With the high quality of protein, chia seeds are a great protein source for those who consume little to no meat products. Because chia seeds provide sustained energy and help to control hunger, they can help maintain healthy eating habits. Chia seeds are also loaded with antioxidants to promote cell health.
Before you add these powerful black seeds to your grocery list, a note of caution. Avoid consuming a large amount of dry chia seeds. Because of their ability to absorb so much liquid, dry seeds can cause swallowing and digestive issues when consumed dry. Add the seeds to liquid first for best results. As with any food or supplement, moderation is key. Eating chia seeds too often can result in blood pressure and blood sugar issues.
What are the most effective ways to integrate these power seeds into your diet? Chia seeds are a great addition to smoothies and make a delicious, simple pudding when combined with almond or coconut milk. You can also try a fun twist on lemon poppy seed bread. Some grocery stores even carry yogurt with chia seeds already added, a hearty breakfast or snack that will be sure to fill you up.
So next time you’re at the store, add a bag of these tiny seeds to your cart, and enjoy all the powerful benefits this superfood has to offer. After all, chia seeds have only been on the job for thousands of years…they’re professionals!