Chia seeds are among the most nutritious foods on the planet! "Ch-ch-ch-chia!"
Salvia hispanica, or the chia plant, is a species in the mint family that is native to Central America. The seeds of this herb are known as “chia seeds”. These seeds are naturally gluten-free, have as much calcium as an 8 oz glass of milk, have more Omega-3s than a single serving of walnuts and have just as much antioxidants as blueberries.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one ounce of chia seeds (approximately 28 grams) contains 138 calories, 8 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrate, 10 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. A one ounce serving of chia seeds would provide you with 18% of daily calcium needs, 27% of phosphorus, 30% of manganese and smaller amounts of potassium, zinc and copper.
When compared to flaxseed, chia seeds provide more omega-3s, calcium, phosphorus and fiber - all essential nutrients that most people are not getting enough of.
Here are 11 health benefits of chia seeds and why you should be including them in your daily diet:
- Enhances exercise performance for workouts that last 90 minutes the same way a sugar-laden sports drink would, but without all the sugar.
- 1 oz. of chia seeds has 18% of the recommended daily amount of calcium.
- High in essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, niacin
- Chia seeds are ranked among the top plant based sources of protein. By weight, they are about 14% protein
- Rich in alpha lineic acid (or ALA), an Omega-3 fatty acid. ALA has been found to limit the growth of cancer cells in both breast & cervical cancers
- Rich in fiber 11g per oz.; supports intestinal regularity
- Improves blood sugar
- Induces weight loss
- Rich in antioxidants
- Regulates cholesterol and lower blood pressure
- Can help prevent metabolic disorders
How to eat Chia Seeds:
The best way to access their vitamins and minerals is to either grind or soak them. If you soak them, then you “sprout” them and it releases the “enzyme inhibitors” that are used to protect the seed.
Use a 1:10 ratio chia to water. That’s about 1.5 tablespoons chia seeds in one cup of water. You want the seeds and water to gel and not be too watery. Then let them sit for about 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Since chia seeds can hold up to 12 times its weight in water, they are wonderful to prevent dehydration. However, if you choose not to soak them, then they can also absorb water from you during digestion. So make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated.
Another option is to grind chia seeds in a coffee grinder or Vitamix to break down the hard outer shell. When pulverized, chia seed flour can be used in most gluten-free recipes like pancakes, muffins, breads and even pastas. Remember when grinding omega-3 rich seeds to store them in a sealed, glass container in your refrigerator or freezer.
Unlike flaxseeds, you do not have to grind chia seeds to access their nutrition. You can eat them whole and still get their “energy-packed” punch! You can even just eat a spoonful straight – but beware – they do tend to stick in your teeth!
Try this recipe:
Coconut Chocolate Chia Pudding
- 2 tsp. instant espresso powder
- 1 1/2 cups light coconut milk
- 1 large banana
- 5 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 3 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 8 tsp. cayenne (optional)
- 1 8 tsp. sea salt
- Raspberries, Blueberries or Blackberries (optional)
- Dissolve espresso powder in 2 Tbsp. of hot water.
Combine this mixture with all ingredients, except for the raspberries, into a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour puree into a bowl and let sit in the refrigerator for two hours to thicken. Divide among serving bowls and top with raspberries.
Enjoy! For more recipes with Chia Seeds check out The Daily Burn!