Chia seeds; what more can I say about them that hasn't been said? While modest in size and appearance, these tiny seeds are powerhouses of nutrition. In fact, according to author Christopher McDougall, a tablespoon of chia is nutritionally equivalent to a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone!
Chia seeds come from a flowering plant (Salvia hispanica) that is native to the valley of Mexico and has been domesticated since as early as 2700 BC. According to historical references, chia was a staple food for the indigenous peoples, including the Nahuati (Aztec), Mayan, and Incan peoples. In these cultures, chia seeds were greatly revered for its medicinal properties and nutritional value, was offered to the gods, and was even considered currency. Its name stems from the Nahuatian word, Chiapan – river of Chia, and means “energy” or “strength”. Traditionally, the seeds were roasted, crushed, and mixed with water to form a highly nutritious gel. This gel was the fuel of choice for ancient warriors and runners; one spoon of the seeds in water was considered to be nutrition enough to provide sustenance for an entire day.
While humble in size, chia seeds pack a nutritious punch. They are rich in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Trust me, these are all good things!
Per 28-gram (1 ounce) serving:
- Dietary fiber (11g – 42% recommended daily value)
- Protein (4.4g – 9% RDV)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (4915 mg)
- Omega-6 fatty acids (1620 mg)
- Calcium (77 mg – 18% RDV)
- Copper (0.1 mg – 3% RDV)
- Phosphorus (265 mg – 27% RDV)
- Potassium (44.8 mg – 1% RDV)
- Zinc (1.0 mg – 7% RDV)
Other notable nutrients:
- Essential fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid, linoleic acid
- Vitamins: A, B, E, D
- Minerals: Iron, Iodide, Sulphur, Magnesium, Manganese
Benefits of Chia
In case you are not already convinced that chia should be your best friend, here are a few more reasons:
- Diabetes destroyer
- Chia is currently being studied as a potential treatment for type-2 diabetes. The theory is that since it can slow down digestion, it may be helpful in preventing blood sugar spikes.
- Fibrous friend
- Just one ounce of chia seeds has enough fiber to cover 1/3 of your daily needs. As we all know, increasing fiber can positively benefit cholesterol levels, digestive issues, and helps keep you fuller, longer.
- Fountain of youth
- Forget going to the cosmetics counter for your anti-aging cream, and just add some chia to your smoothie instead. Chia seeds are stock-full of anti-oxidants, powerful constituents that are key in fighting off free-radical damage and speeding up the skin’s repair systems.
- A study published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that eating chia seeds prior to activity enhanced exercise performance in workouts that lasted 90 minutes. Who needs a chemical-laden sports drink when you can have refreshing chia water instead?
- Healthy heart, stronger bones, and teeth, increased metabolism…
- And the list goes on. Chia seeds are truly an amazing superfood with so many benefits for your body.
How to eat chia seeds?
In my experience, chia seeds are easiest to consume when they are soaked in water beforehand. By soaking your chia seeds, you allow them to sprout and release their enzyme inhibitors, which are used to protect the seed. This is beneficial because it allows for the chia seeds to be digested more easily and also helps your body access all the nutrients within the seed. Also, chia seeds can hold up to 10-12 times its weight in water, so soaking them can massively increase hydration. On the flip side, if you decide to eat chia without soaking them first, they may soak water from you during the digestive process; to prevent this from happening, ensure that you are well hydrated throughout the day.
- Soak chia seeds in water in a 1:10 ratio
- E.g. 1.5 tablespoons chia seeds to 1 cup water
- Stir the seeds so they are well distributed throughout the water
- Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes – 2 hours
How to add chia into your diet?
- Chia water or chia fresca (recipe below)
- Replace sesame seeds with chia seeds in recipes
- Add chia seeds to your frozen yogurt or ice cream
- Add chia to your morning smoothie
- Use chia seeds as a vegan substitute for eggs
- Grind 1 Tbsp. of chia seeds, mix with 3 Tbsp. of water and let sit for 5 minutes
- 2 tbsp. chia seeds
- 2 cups water
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup or honey
- Mix all the ingredients together and let it cool in the fridge for 2-3 hours
- Drink and feel instantly uplifted
Whether you are a high-endurance athlete, or simply want to feel energized as you navigate through the day, chia seeds are a great way to boost your nutrition and super-charge your health. Plus, its fun to say… ch-ch-ch-chia!