The new superfood – Chia Seeds
Posted on June 13, 2013 by admin
Maybe you have been hearing more about Chia as the new super food. If you have not, maybe you need to take a look. Yes, it also can make you feel more full to help with your weightloss also. The DrOz show has even recently been talking about the benefits of Chia seeds.
A little background about Chia seeds:
Long ago, before the Spanish conquest of Latin America – and well before the Ch-ch-ch-chia Pet was born – chia seeds were a staple food, like corn and beans, in the diets of the Aztecs and Mayans. Chia actually got its name from the Mayan word for “strength.”
Most evidence shows that humans began using chia seeds around 3500 BC. Aztecs and Mayans consumed chia seeds regularly, grinding them into flour, pressing them for oil and drinking them mixed with water. At this time in history, chia seeds were considered to be almost magical because of their ability to increase stamina and energy over long periods of time.
After the Spanish conquest of Latin America, chia seeds and their benefits became somewhat eclipsed, as the Spanish introduced their own foods and prohibited the farming of chia. Now, as modern scientists and nutritionists are recognizing the extreme lack of certain nutrients in the standard American diet, they are looking to history for natural solutions, including chia. Because of this, it is regaining popularity and its benefits are becoming known to modern America.
The chia seeds are “super” because, like a superfruit, they deliver the maximum amount of nutrients with minimum calories. They have several of the same benefits as the more well-known “super seed” flax, but unlike flax seed, you don’t need to grind them to reap the health benefits. The nutritional benefits of chia include fiber, omega fatty acids, calcium, antioxidants and much more – even protein!
Here are some good things about Chia by herbalpharmacist.com:
The seeds and oil naturally contain more than 60% Omega-3 fatty acid. This is the higher than any other plant we know. Chia seeds do not have to be ground up prior to consumption like many other seeds high in good fats, which adds a convenience factor.
It is estimated that between 19-23 percent of the seed by weight is protein. This too is higher than most other seeds and grains. Combining the good fats with an excellent source of protein make this a dieters dream.
Chia can absorb up to 30 times its weight in water. This also works with other liquids like juices. This ability can prolong hydration (I call it having time released water) and retain electrolytes in body fluids, especially during exertion or exercise. A 15gram serving of Chia seeds can provide you with 4-5grams of fiber.
Chia contains Vitamin C and Vitamin E but also has something named Cinnamic acids. It is believed that these three (especially the cinnamic acid) which help preserve the seeds and more importantly protect the good fats from oxidizing (going bad). This is why chia is a stable product for years.
This one will make you stop in your tracks: Just two ounces of Chia seeds contain 600mg of Calcium, compared with 120mg per the same serving size of Milk. Following the Herbal Pharmacist® recommendations to find your vitamins and minerals in a food or “food form” make Chia a top suggestion for those looking for more calcium in their diet without having to take more tablets or capsules. Throw on top if it that Chia also contains Boron-a critical mineral for bones-this also becomes part of your diet for those concerned with Osteoporosis and overall bone health.
Weight Loss and Blood Sugar control
Ask any good dietician what to do for weight loss and one thing they will usually say is to increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Fiber before a meal can help curb your appetite by giving you the sense of being full. Considering the fact that Chia can absorb up to 30 times its weight in water-that is a lot of bulk to make you feel full. As mentioned above, Chia is high in protein. Protein can be beneficial in any weight loss program by providing a great energy source and helping to assure you keep your muscle mass while burning off the fat. If you starve yourself, the body will use your own muscle as energy and you will not only lose fat but also muscle. Muscle is where your metabolism occurs so losing muscle may lead to decreased metabolism over time.
The gel that Chia forms can also slow digestion and help balance blood sugar levels. When chia seeds are mixed with water or stomach juices, a gel forms that creates a physical barrier between the carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down. The carbohydrates are digested eventually, but at a slow and uniform rate. There is no insulin surge or spike needed to lower the blood sugar level after eating chia. By achieving this, you will have fewer energy drops and cravings for refined foods. This balancing of blood sugar levels is also critical for those with both hyper (high) and hypo (low) blood sugar.
With regards to heart disease Chia can provide added dietary support. We know that a diet high in fiber is recommended for those with High Cholesterol and other forms of cardiovascular disease. Also, Omega-3s (usually from fish oil) are recommended for heart health too. The Omega-3 found in Chia (ALA) can be converted into EPA (the heart health component of fish oil) in the body. Adding a few servings of Chia to your every day diet would be a huge step in the right direction for all of us (yes me) concerned with cardiovascular disease.
As mentioned above, Chia is high in Calcium and other minerals known to be helpful for bone health. Getting your minerals (and vitamins) from a food source (Chia in this case) is the best way to do it. You get better digestion, absorption and retention when they come from food vs. synthetic. A recent newsletter of mine spoke of a study showing that women who consumed more calcium in their everyday diet had better bone health than those who took most of their calcium from supplements. The women who got calcium from their diet required less calcium too. Hey: I have never been a big dairy fan and now I have one more reason not to consume it-GO Chia!
I think by now that all of my loyal listeners, viewers, attendees and readers know that fiber is critical for healthy digestion. We need to consume 35+ grams of fiber per day and if it doesn’t come from your food you must supplement. Now, with Chia, 1 tablespoon serving can give you about 1/5th of your daily needs (7.4grams). One tablespoon of Chia isn’t very much so I recommend at least 2 to 4 per day as part of your every day diet.
How to use Chia
Chia should be considered part of your everyday diet and not a supplement. You can add Chia to just about everything. Just as we add things to our salads, soups, veggies and more. You can do the same with Chia. Guess what? It has virtually not flavor (I think it has none at all). This is a huge point because often we end up with something that imparts a new flavor or texture to your food and ends up making it a challenge to consume. This will not happen with Chia. You can add the seeds directly to your foods (dry) or as a gel. Chia can even be eaten directly from the container. (I don’t recommend this because the seeds are so tiny (smaller than sesame seeds) they will end up between your teeth.)
Since chia seed is an USDA approved food product, you can do this as often as you prefer just as you can eat more than one apple or other fruit per day. You can also use it to make a versatile gel, which can be added to jams, jellies, peanut butter, milkshakes, nut spreads, smoothies, hot or cold cereals, yogurts, mustard, catsup, tartar sauce, barbecue sauces, etc. as a fat substitute or for energy and endurance.
We suggest you add these to your healthy living.
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