Chia Seeds

January 1, 2009

By johnmac

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Happy New Year!

Resolution time again! Ready to start some new, healthy habits? A very simple one that you may want to consider is the addition of chia seeds to your diet. Chia seeds (also called Salvia Hispanica) can be traced back to 3000BC. The seeds were highly valued by the Mayans and Aztecs as they were believed to enhance endurance and overall health. In fact, the running messengers would carry small pouches of chia seeds with them and consume them during their travels to give them energy and help them stay hydrated. While more research is needed to discover all of the health benefits of these tiny super-seeds, some of the nutritional benefits noted to date include:

  • High in Omega-3, which offers numerous benefits, including maintaining heart, joint and cognitive health
  • High in antioxidants, which play a critical role in preventing disease and pre-mature aging
  • High in fibre, which promotes healthy bowel function, weight loss and blood sugar balance. A single, 15 gram serving (1 tablespoon) of chia seeds can provide 6 grams of fibre
  • A good source of vegetarian-based protein (chia seeds are 20% protein), with a higher percentage and quality of protein compared with most vegetable and grain sources
  • A good source of calcium, potassium and iron

Compared with flax seeds, chia seeds are more stable (they will keep at room temperature for over 2 years), are a better source of Omega-3 fatty acid (containing almost 20% more) and have a milder taste. Chia seeds do not need to be ground as the seed’s outer shell breaks down quickly, allowing for good digestion and absorption of its nutrients. When chia seeds become saturated with liquid, a nutrient-rich gel is formed having a thickness similar to egg whites. This gel can be added to many foods and drinks in order to add nutrients and increase volume. This is a great weight loss strategy as one can double the bulk of the portion size of certain foods by adding chia gel without doubling the calorie count. It can also be used as a thickening agent or an egg replacement – all without altering the taste. To make chia gel, mix together 1 part chia seeds with 10 parts water and let stand for 15 minutes. Instead of water, you can experiment with other liquids, such as juices and cooled teas for a satisfying and health-boosting drink. Some distributors of chia seeds claim that white chia seeds are nutritionally superior to black ones; however, studies are beginning to show that it is not so much the colour of the seed that affects its nutrient content, but rather where the seed was grown and the soil composition. Chia seeds are gaining popularity and can be found at most health food stores. A Canadian source for chia seeds and chia flour is SuperSeeds Organics Limited (www.Superseeds.ca). You can order on-line or by phone (888-621-CHIA). The prices are very reasonable and include shipping. When you order, use Coupon Code: SSPERFECTO9 in order to receive 10% off any order over $35. This special offer has been set up for all readers of this ‘Tip of the Month’ and will be valid for 6 months, so make sure you take advantage of it and feel free to share it with others. I use chia seeds every day. I add them to yogurt, smoothies, juice, cereal, soups, salads, dips and baking (you can also bake with chia flour, which is gluten free). The recommended daily intake of chia seeds is 2 tablespoons. For more ideas on how to add chia seeds to your diet, visit the recipes section of www.Superseeds.ca.

Enjoy! Anna

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