You have probably noticed Chia seeds popping up everywhere in baked goods, sprinkled on salads, and blended into smoothies. Well what are they? These tiny little seeds that look like dinosaur eggs are an ancient superfood. Chia seeds come from the desert based salvia plant and were a staple part of ancient Mayan and Aztec diets. Chia contains high amounts of fiber, easily digestible protein, antioxidants, calcium and iron. They are the highest known source of plant-based omega-3, stealing the spotlight from the ever so popular flax seed (which is still great for you). The health benefits don’t stop there!
The seed also has hydrophilic properties, which means it has a unique ability to absorb liquid and form a gel. It is a very water-soluble fiber that can absorb up to twelve times its weight. This water absorbing quality helps prolong hydration and retain electrolytes. Runners take note! The ancient cultures used to eat chia seeds as their primary food source when heading out to battle or on a long trek. They called it ‘running food’ because it provides a sustaining flow of energy. ‘Chia’ actually means ‘strength’ in Mayan. Think about that next time you run your half marathon!
Another great quality is the seeds ability to slow the impact of sugar into the system. If the seeds are eaten with something like sweet like apple juice, they create a barrier between the carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, thus slowing the conversion of carbs into sugar so you don’t have spikes in your blood sugar levels. Because the energy of the food is released steadily, it results in more endurance.
Weight loss anyone? Chia seeds can help you there too. They have both soluble and insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber acts as a broom sweeping through your intestines, getting rid of accumulated waste and keeping things moving. The soluble fiber acts like a sprinkler bringing water to dry grass, making digestion easier so your body doesn’t have to work as hard. People find that bowel movements become more regular after incorporating chia seeds into their diet, which is very easy to do.
Chia seeds don’t have much flavor, and can be tossed into almost any recipe, savory or sweet. Sprinkle some in your yogurt, granola, or pizza!