Native to Central America, chia has been celebrated for its health benefits for centuries. The tiny black seed was a staple crop of the region’s many historical civilizations, including the Mayans, Olmecs and the Aztecs.
They prized them for their ability to provide sustainable energy and, in fact, “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.” Also known as the “Indian Running Food”, chia was used from warriors during battles as a source of strength and nourishment.
Today, the Central American superfood is making waves as a nutritional powerhouse all over the world. Chia is loaded with fiber, protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals that are essential for our health.
LOADED WITH ANTIOXIDANTS (ANTI-AGING PROPERTIES)
Chia seeds are one of nature’s richest antioxidants. They fight the production of free radicals in our body, speed up the skin’s repair process and protect our cells from further damage and inflammation.
These amazing properties deliver essential anti-aging nutrients to the skin which can prevent premature aging. Antioxidants are also found naturally within the seed to help protect the sensitive fats in the seed from going rancid.
HIGH IN FIBER (SUPPORT DIGESTION)
Chia seeds are 40% fiber, by weight. This makes them an excellent source of fiber providing 11 grams per ounce. In fact only one serving of chia can provide the necessary daily amount of fiber.
This soluble fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut and may help improve gut health. Fiber is also associated with regulating bowel function and healthy stool which makes it beneficial for digestion.
The rich fiber content gives chia the ability to absorb 10-12 times their weight in water, becoming gel-like and expanding in the stomach. This should increase fullness, slow absorption and therefore help you eat fewer calories therefore loose weight.
HIGH IN NUTRIENTS (HEART HEALTH & STRONG BONES)
Chia seeds are one of the most naturally balanced sources of healthy fats, containing ideal ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids work to protect the heart by lowering blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and inflammation.
Filled with more calcium per fluid ounce than milk, and significant amounts of magnesium, manganese and phosphorus, chia seeds are beneficial for maintaining healthy bones and muscles.
GOOD SOURCE OF PROTEIN (BUILD MUSCLE & BURN FAT)
Chia seeds are an excellent source of plant based protein which makes it ideal for those who want to build lean muscle, burn fat, and balance blood sugar levels. They are high in essential minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper that are necessary for those who exercise regularly.
Their high zinc content helps increase the hormone leptin that is a key in regulating appetite and increase energy levels. It also improves endurance and helps you get in shape quickly.
BALANCES BLOOD SUGAR
Chia’s complex nutritional profile, healthy fats and high fiber content helps the body stabilize and balance blood sugar levels, a quality that makes them excellent mix-ins with high sugar and starchy fruits and vegetables.
Once digested, chia forms a barrier between carbohydrates and enzymes that break them down, slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. This makes them ideal for diabetics and those wanting to prevent diabetes.
PROMOTE ENERGY & ENDURANCE
There are many legends talking about the Aztecs and Mayans using chia seeds for endurance and better performance back in the days. Warriors and athletes often consumed a chia seed gel prior to their events to maintain energy.
A recent study shows that consuming chia seeds can enhance exercise performance the same as a sugar-laden sport drink would, but without all the sugar. So higher nutrients intake and less sugar!
Is chia your choice too?
HOW TO EAT CHIA
Soaking the chia seeds helps create a gel-like coating that protect the seed and it makes it easy for us to digest and access all the nutrients. As mentioned above, chia seed can hold up to 12 times its weight in water which means you can add 1-2 tsp chia in up to one cup of water.
By grinding the chia seed into fine powder you break down the hard outer shell which is great way to access the nutrients of the seed without changing the texture. You can use the flower-like powder to make muffins, breads or even pancakes.
You can eat chia seeds whole and still get their energy boosting benefits. Be aware that they will absorb water from you during digestion so it is best to drink plenty of liquid after consuming them whole to keep your body hydrated.
EASY RECIPES WITH CHIA
Chia seeds are mildly flavored and form a gelled coating when added to liquids, making them excellent natural thickening agent for baked goods and puddings.
Here are my three most favorite ways to use chia:
Make a Cocoa-Chia Pudding
1 cup of nut milk
2 tsp chia seeds
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp maca powder
1 tsp maple syrup
Blend all ingredients except chia seeds in a blender until smooth. Whisk in chia seeds. Pour into a glass container and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to let gel. Add cinnamon to spice it up!
Make a Chia-Yogurt Desert
1 cup Bulgarian Yogurt
2 tsp chia seed
1 tsp honey
Pinch of sea salt
Topping: Fresh berries, granola or sliced almond
Add maple syrup and sea salt to yogurt and whisk to combine. Mix in the chia seeds and evenly distribute it. Leave it in the fridge for few hours or overnight. Serve chilled with your favorite topping!
Sprinkle in Energizing Smoothie
Simply add 1 tsp chia in your favorite smoothie recipe and enjoy all the great benefits!
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Hi! My name is Maggie and I am the founder of Balance with Herbs. This is a special place just for you, where you can find the tools, knowledge and inspiration to look and feel your best while living healthier life. My idea is to provide you with easy accessible information on different topics related to health and nutrition, to give you free detox programs, ebooks, ideas for home remedies, healthy recipes and a wonderful supporting community of people with the same goals. I wish you one magical and transforming adventure with Balance with Herbs! We are your best friend to your health journey!