Chia seed is a species of flowering plant in the mint family and is native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. They are usually grown organically, are non-GMO and naturally free of gluten. They have become trendy as of late and have been given the status in the nutrition world of being called a “superfood”. This is one superfood that I truly recommend because the nutritional value, ounce for ounce, is rather astounding. (If you are in a hurry to figure out how to use them, skip to the bottom of the article!)
The Nutrition Profile –Amazing!
2 Tablespoons of Chia Seed contains the following:
Protein – 4.4 grams
Fat – 9 grams
Omega-3 fatty acids – 4915 mg
Omega-6 fatty acids – 1620 mg
Carbohydrates – 12 grams
Fiber – 11 grams (42% of the Recommended Daily Value)
Calcium -18% of RDV
Manganese – 30% of the RDV
Magnesium – 30% of the RDV
Phosphorus – 27% of the RDV
Zinc – 7% of the RDV
Chia also contains essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid, mucin, strontium, boron, Vitamins A, B, E, and D as well as sulfur, iron, iodine, niacin, and thiamine and they are a rich source of antioxidants.
Good for Everything (almost!)
This impressive nutritional evaluation means that, for just 2 tablespoons a day, you can derive a great deal of potential benefit including:
- Chia is a balanced food offering high quality protein, fat and carbohydrates. When you eat them, you get some of every primary building block for life.
- A digestive health superstar, the carbohydrates in chia are almost totally from fiber. This helps to provide satiation, balance blood sugar, promote bowel regularity, and have a gel forming action in the soluble fiber that works as a prebiotic supporting the growth of probiotics in the gut. By weight, chia seeds are 40% fiber, making them one of the highest sources of fiber available.
- Antioxidant rich, chia can be a reliable and powerful protection against free radical damage in the body, the damage that promotes aging (yes including wrinkles!), inflammation and disease.
- One small study [i] in Type 2 Diabetics showed that chia seeds can significantly lower blood pressure and C-reactive protein (a marker for inflammation).
- Chia has the ability to reverse inflammation, regulate cholesterol and lower blood pressure, all of which support heart health. [ii]
- The protein in chia is complete, meaning that it provides all of the essential amino acids that the body requires but cannot make for itself. Since it is a plant protein, it offers a good source of protein for those who do not consume animal protein.
- Chia seeds offer an excellent source for calcium as well as most of the other essential nutrients for bone health including phosphorus, magnesium, and boron.
- Chia is high in linoleic acid, a fatty acid which helps the body absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
How to use Chia Seed:
- Add to organic yogurt or a non-dairy almond or coconut milk yogurt.
- Add to organic unsweetened applesauce.
- Drink them by soaking seeds (1.5 Tablespoons) in 8 ounces of water for about 30 minutes or more. Chia seeds hold 12 times their weight in water. When soaked, they can offer great hydration to your body. Unsoaked chia can steal hydration from your body so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated.
- Make a pudding by putting ¼ cup chia seeds in 8 ounces of nut milk and allow to soak overnight in the refrigerator. Top or blend with pureed mango, blueberries, strawberries, banana, or raspberries.
- Pulverize and use chia seed in gluten-free recipes for pancakes, muffins, and breads.
- Add to a protein smoothie.
- Use in chili or stew to increase nutrition and volume, allowing your shopping dollar to go further without diluting flavors.
- Grind and combine with ground pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds and coconut flakes. Then add hot water for a wonderful low carb breakfast porridge. Sweeten with stevia or lo han if desired.