Chia seeds have piqued the interest of health food lovers everywhere. What are chia seeds, why should we eat them, and how do you prepare them? Find out, courtesy of The Red Radish Natural Foods.
Where do chia seeds come from?
The chia seed comes from a desert plant, Salvia hispnica. It’s believed to come from Central America where the seed was an important part of the ancient Aztec diet. Native Americans in the southwestern part of the United States used seeds from a related plant, Salvia columbarae, which means golden chia.
The name “chia” means “strength” in the Mayan language. Aztec warriors consumed them to increase stamina and energy. Today, many athletes use energy drinks made with chia seeds.
They are considered a super food because:
- Chia seeds are a vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is a vital fat that protects against inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis and heart disease.
- They contain zinc, calcium, magnesium, copper, and iron.
- Chia seeds are a source of protein.
- Chia seeds provide about 10 grams of fiber per ounce (about 2 tablespoons).
- They are a source of antioxidants.
People report chia seeds help with weight loss because the increase of fiber makes them feel full. The seeds absorb 10 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel that may reduce the appetite.
New research suggests that adding chia seeds to your diet may help lower blood pressure, and lower cholesterol.
How do you eat chia seeds?
Soaking chia seeds in fruit juice or water gives them a gelatinous texture. Soak for 1 to 3 hours.
You can add the resulting mixture to cooked dishes and cooked cereal. Or pour it into water, fruit juice or smoothies to make a healthful energy drink.
Sprinkle raw seeds, either whole or ground, onto cereal, yogurt, vegetable dishes, or rice.
Add sprouts made from chia seeds to sandwiches and salads.
Add them to baked goods like breads, biscuits, and cookies.
What are other advantages of chia seeds?
Chia seeds have a nutty flavor that many people enjoy. Unlike other seeds, they are so rich in anti-oxidants they can be stored for long periods without going rancid. Unlike flax seeds, chia seeds to not have to be ground for the body to assimilate their nutrients.