What’s The Deal With Chia?
I’m sure you’ve seen it. That little black seed that everyone is obsessed with lately. It’s been the star ingredient of many a pudding and pie. You may have even seen it back in the day on one of those commercials in the 90’s that was advertised as “the pottery that grows” (remember that jingle? chi-chi-chi-chia!). Yes, my friends. It’s chia.
Chia is a seed from a herb in the mint family. It originally grew in Central and South America, and the Mayan and Aztec people regarded it as sacred-they were even thought to be “magical” (is anyone else reminded of Jack and his magical beans? No? Just me? Well…nevermind then) Chia actually means “strength” in the Mayan language. It was used by warriors and runners to give them high energy and endurance on their journeys. People would even claim that one spoonful would give them enough energy for the entire day. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I’d still be hungry by the end of the day…”magical” or not.
But let’s fast forward to today. What is it about these seeds that make them little superfood nuggets? Let’s take a gander:
About 2 tablespoons contain:
4915 mg Omega-3 fatty acids
1620 mg Omega-6 fatty acids
4 g of protein
11 g of fiber
18% recommended daily value of Calcium
27% RDV of Phosphorus
30% RDV of Manganese
They also contain various nutrients such as: copper, potassium, zinc, vitamins A, B, E,and D, and antioxidants. But how does this benefit you?
They are a good source of protein
They contain all 9 of the essential amino acids, which therefore makes them a complete protein! This is great news for anyone looking for a good protein source but is especially good news for people looking for a complete protein from a non-animal source, which can be difficult to find.
Chia is great for digestion
Their high fiber count not only makes them filling, but it also helps feed good bacteria in the gut, which improves your digestive health. The high fiber and healthy fat combo also acts as a natural blood sugar balancer. Additionally, one serving of chia provides the recommended daily fiber intake according to the American Dietetic Association.
They are nutrient dense
Their high levels of antioxidants protect the body from free radical damage and help quicken the body’s repair systems (to put it into perspective: some examples of external sources of free radicals are pollution, cigarette smoke, radiation, and medications). The high levels of Calcium help maintain bone strength and mass as well as dental health. Their Omega-3 fatty acids protect the heart by lowering blood pressure, the “bad” cholesterol, and inflammation. These are only a few of the nutritional benefits they contain!
Chia seeds promote weight loss
Like I mentioned above, chia is very filling. It can absorb up to 10 times its weight in water! This means that not only do they expand in the stomach, but they also promote hydration in the body, which is very important whether you’re seeking to maintain a healthy weight or are working to reach a healthier weight.
How do I use them?
You may be thinking, that’s all fine and dandy, but what do I do with them? Well, there’s a few options to choose from. I personally prefer to either soak them or grind them up into a fine powder. Soaking them in coconut milk or any nut milk overnight transforms them into a pudding that is the perfect breakfast treat. The powder is also a nice thickener for gravies, sauces, smoothies etc. (they don’t necessarily have to be powdered, but I like the texture better that way). Another handy use for the powder is as a binder in meatloaf and meatballs instead of breadcrumbs (thanks to wellness mama for that tip!)
What are your thoughts on chia? Is there a certain way you like to use them?
If you need some inspiration or direction, here’s some awesome chia recipes to get you started: