The Amazing Chia Seed

17 Oct 2015
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Ch-ch-ch- chia! Have you heard about Chia seeds? These seeds used to be a niche ingredient you would only encounter at health food stores.
chia seeds wood scoop kitchen counter

Ch-ch-ch- chia! Have you heard about Chia seeds? These seeds used to be a niche ingredient you would only encounter at health food stores. But nowadays you can find chia at your local supermarket, and it's in everything from granolas and cereals to yogurts and energy drinks. Here's some more about this little miracle seed.

Chia seeds are from a plant in the mint family known as Salvia hispanica.  The plant is native to parts of Mexico and Guatemala. Good-quality chia seeds are naturally black or white in color - not brown. Chia seeds have become a commercially popular health food in the last decade or so, but they’re actually one of the oldest forms of nutrition.

As it turns out, Chia seeds have been a staple in Mayan and Aztec diets for centuries.They have great health benefits and uses in cooking. It also turns out chia seeds are a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants. These tiny seeds can expand and holds approximately 10 times their dry weight in liquid. They swell into gel-like gobules when they absorb liquid!

How to Eat It

Dry chia seeds can also be added whole or ground to smoothies and juices, mixed into yogurt or oatmeal, or sprinkled on top of a salad, soup or pretty much anything. If you’re adding the seeds to a liquid or moist food item like a drink or soup, they will expand slightly while you eat, but they’ll retain a slight crunch. And although these are some of the more common ways to eat chia, its mild flavor and compact size make it easy to slip a spoonful into pretty much anything—so experiment! I personally add a spoonful to my cup of Earl Gray tea!
Since chia seeds are capable of absorbing a lot of liquid, it’s important to stay well-hydrated when consuming them, particularly in dry form. But you don’t have to overdo it on the water—your daily eight 8-oz. glasses will be more than adequate!
Health Benefits
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Chia seeds are often referred to as a superfood. These seeds have around 140 calories per two tablespoons, along with a host of other nutrients, fatty acids and amino acids.  Unlike Flaxseeds, Chia seeds don’t need to be ground before eating to get the nutritional benefits—eating them whole will have the same effect, and how you like to eat them is just a matter of personal preference. Here are some of the health benefits

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Chia seeds are rich in polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, with nearly five grams in a one-ounce serving. These fats are important for brain health and the omega-3s in chia seeds can help reduce inflammation and reduce high cholesterol.

Fiber

Fiber is normally associated with reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol and regulating bowel function. Chia seeds are a fantastic source of fiber, with an incredible10 grams in only 2 tablespoons. That is one-third of the daily recommended intake of fiber per day. Adding some chia to your diet is an easy way to make sure you're getting a good amount of fibre, which is also important for digestive health.

Antioxidants

Chia seeds are rich with antioxidants and helps to protect the body from free radicals, aging and cancer. The high antioxidant profile also helps them have a long shelf life of almost two years without refrigeration.

Minerals

Two tablespoons of chia seeds contains 18 percent of the daily recommended intake for calcium, 35 percent for phosphorus, 24 percent for magnesium and about 50 percent for manganese. These nutrients help you prevent hypertension and maintain a healthy weight, and are important for energy metabolism. Calcium puts you well on your way to maintaining bone and oral health, and preventing osteoporosis and don't forget Manganese which is good for your bones and helps your body use other essential nutrients like biotin and thiamin.  Phosphorus is also used by the body to synthesize protein for cell and tissue growth and repair.

Gluten-Free

Chia seeds contain no gluten or grains. Therefore, all of the nutritional benefits of chia seeds can be obtained on a gluten-free diet.

Blood Sugar Regulation

Chia seeds can play an important role in regulating insulin levels. They can reduce insulin resistance and decrease abnormally high levels of insulin in the blood.

Home and Garden Caribbean Tip:
tip

Look for seeds that are either a speckled black or white, but not uniformly brown. It seems that brown chia seeds are immature seeds that haven’t had a chance to mature properly, and this can result in fewer nutritional benefits and give the seeds a bitter taste.

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