Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Seeds to Eat!
Some of the most memorable commercials of the 90’s were for the Chia Pet. But did you know that the pottery planters use one of the most healthful foods to grow its ‘hair’? Chia seeds, though not edible in the Chia Pet package, are gaining more attention and you won’t have to water the plant to get results. Mentioned in Dr. Oz’s book, You Staying Young, chia seeds are becoming more readily available then they once were. So take advantage of this familiar, yet underestimated superfood.
What are Chia Seeds?
Chia is the seed of a a flowering plant in the mint family, originated in Mexico and now grown in Australia, Central and South America. The word chia comes from the Mayan culture and means strength. Chia seeds are easily digestible and have a 4+ year shelf-life. Unlike flax seeds, they do not have to be ground release their nutrients.
Chia Seed Nutrition
Adding just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to your diet daily will provide approximately six grams of gel-forming soluble fiber, three grams of protein, and almost 10% of your daily recommended values of iron, and calcium. Bump it up to two tablespoons and you’re looking at the equivalent nutritional value of - the protein of 24 almonds, the fiber of two slices of whole wheat bread, the iron of two tablespoons of pumpkin seeds, and the calcium of Yoplait Banana Crème Yogurt - in only 70 calories and less than 5 grams of fat.
With one of the highest levels of antioxidants, surpassing that of fresh blueberries, chia seeds boast many health benefits. The National Cancer Institute states that “antioxidants help prevent the free radical damage that is associated with cancer.” And when measured by weight, chia seeds also have the more omega-3 fatty acids than in vegetable oils and fatty fish. Omega-3’s promote heart and brain health as well as many other bodily functions including regulating blood pressure and blood sugar.
How to Eat Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have a nutty, mild flavor and thus, can be added to foods like smoothies, cereal, soups, oatmeal and salads. Chia seeds are used in cooking a variety of ways: ground, raw and as a gel. The gel, made from two ounces of chia seeds added to two cups of water or apple juice, can be added to smoothies, granola, and salad dressings. The ground and powdered variety can be used to replace up to one-fifth of regular flour in baked goods and gelled chia seeds can replace some of the oil. Because chia seeds have such a mild taste, there really are no rules. Add chia seeds to any recipe and its high fiber content will make you feel full faster and could help control your portions. Check out 40 Ways to Use Chia Seeds, as well as these three recipes of featuring chia that we ran through the Calorie Count Recipe Analyzer:
Desperately Seeking Seeds
Chia seeds are usually hard to find at your local grocer, but they are available online and at most health foods stores. Popular purveyors sell chia seeds as whole seeds, ground seeds, oil, and soft gel pills. If you’re wondering the price, chia seeds don’t come cheap. Because they are imported, and such a small amount packs a nutritious punch, chia seeds are usually sold in bulk in 1 to 3 pound bags that can cost about $20 to $30 for the whole seeds. But considering that a 1 pound bag could yield a tablespoon a day, and the bag will keep for years without losing nutrients, chia seeds may be a worthy investment.
So, will you go ch-ch-ch-chia or leave it on the shelf?