The (Teeny Tiny) Superfood of the Week : Chia!

Courtesy of ABC News Travel
photo cred: ABC News

Chia seeds are one of my go-to favorite superfoods & add-in’s for many of my breakfasts and snacks. From smoothies to rice pudding to chia pudding to pancakes to oatmeal, I have a hard time not sprinkling them in!

Here’s the scoop: Chia seeds are an ancient superfood, touted by the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas. Listen to this: Chia actually means “strength” in the language of the Mayans, and some say, the seeds were considered “running food” because messengers could run all day fueled by these tiny little seeds.  A wee seed for strength and running? Sign me up!

Why is the Chia Seed such a nutritious powerhouse, you ask?

  • One ounce (or 2 tablespoons) of chia seeds contains only 137 calories, but provides four grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber
  • Not only are they packed with protein, fiber, magnesium, calcium, and ALA (a type of omega-3 fatty acid), but chia seeds are also high in Omega-3’s (higher than even flaxseed)
  • 30% of the chia seed’s oil is Omega 3 oil. 40% of its oil is Omega 6 oil. This ratio provides the nice balance for anyone looking to supplement Essential Fatty Acids (named as such because they are essential, but our bodies don’t produce them on our own)
  • The chia seed’s substantially dense percentage in alpha-linolenic fatty acid (ALA) also makes this seed a healthy dietary source of fatty acids. (ALA’s have been found to lower risks of cardiovascular disease and reduce levels of anxiety, stress and cortisol, which left at high levels can tax the adrenal glands, throw other hormones outta whack, contribute to belly fat, and encourage other less-than-awesome physical effects on our bodies)
  • Chia seeds are a complete source of protein. They actually have 2 times the protein of any other seed or grain and also help stabilize blood sugar (Ding, ding! Huge benefit for this girl!)
  • Chia seeds are fabulous colon cleansers, bind to toxins, and actually clear out the digestive tract so that you absorb more nutrients and eliminate waste more efficiently.
  • Chia seeds do not need to be ground to be eaten. They are relatively easy-to-digest seeds (compared with its cousin, the flax seeds, which often have to be ground for folks to digest)
  • Chia seeds can be used as an egg-substitute for the vegan crowd
Whole Foods bulk section chia seeds
photo cred: Whole Foods Market

You can find chia seeds packaged similarly to quinoa in your local grocery store, in the bulk section of natural food stores, or even on Amazon.com.

To get these little guys in your diet can be super duper easy. Here are a few ideas:

  • Add a scoop to your smoothie – no need to grind! I actually prefer adding the seeds after I finish blending simply for the fun texture … Gentle warning: the seeds develop a gel-like casing after sitting in liquid, which may catch you by surprise if you don’t know it’s coming
  • Sprinkle on your yogurt
  • Whip up some chia seed pudding
  • Add a tablespoon to some water or juice (if you’re a little iffy with textures, this one might not be for you)
  • Add a couple teaspoons to your pancake mix or morning oats
  • Before placing your toast in the oven or toaster oven, spray a little oil or spread a little of your butter-spread on your toast and sprinkle on the chia seeds. The butter spread will keep the chia seeds on the toast; once the bread is toasted, continue on with your usual toppings. *This one is not advised if you’re using a regular toaster; those seeds will likely fall right off!

So, how have you Chia’d today?

12 thoughts on “The (Teeny Tiny) Superfood of the Week : Chia!

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