Today’s Power Tip: Bring chia seeds into your life
Today I am sharing the power of chia with you. Chia seeds are a staple in my diet. I recommend them to my clients because there are so many nutritional benefits. I was pleased to see that my local supermarket recently added chia seeds to their shelves. A few days ago, The New York Times published “30 Years After Chia Pets, Seeds Hit Food Aisles,” by Stephanie Strom
The word is out about the incredible health benefits of chia seeds. I am going to give you some information on chia as it relates to our bones and suggestions on ways you can incorporate these amazing seeds into your life.
Chia is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. It was an important component of the Aztec diet dating back to 3500 B.C. Aztec warriors depended on chia seeds to sustain themselves. Chia is rich in fiber and and has been shown to slow down digestion, giving nutrients a better chance of being absorbed. Chia is high in bone healthy calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, boron, copper, iron, niacin, and zinc. Chia is the plant source that contains the most omega-3 fatty acids which help protect against bone loss. Protein, which comprises 21 percent of chia, is very beneficial for our bone’s collagen matrix. The collagen matrix is important for keeping our bones flexible and preventing fractures.
There are many benefits of chia for our blood sugar, heart, brain, and joints. One study done in Toronto in 2007 (http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/11/2804.full) showed that chia seeds can reduce blood pressure. I would recommend speaking to your health care provider if you have low blood pressure or are taking blood pressure medication before you consume chia seeds.
Personally, I have found chia to be great for my nails. Before chia, my nails were brittle and cracked easily. Once I added chia to my diet, they became strong and resilient. Chia also keeps me full between meals and more energetic. My clients rave about how chia has helped them feel hydrated during exercise and has aided with weight loss.
I think I have said enough about the benefits of chia. Now how do we bring chia into our lives? According to one of the leading researchers on chia, Dr. Wayne Coates, chia seeds do not need to be ground for their nutrients to be available. In The New York Timesarticle, Strom mentioned that a company testing a new chia product did find some benefit to the milled version. I recommend using either depending on your personal preference. If you do grind the chia in a coffee grinder or food processor, be careful not to do it for too long. Chia has oil in it and you could end up with chia butter.
Ways to use chia:
1. You can toss chia on just about anything. I put a tablespoon in my oatmeal and sprinkle it on my salads. Since chia absorbs 9 to 12 times its weight in water, it is important that you drink enough liquid when you are eating the seeds dry. For each tablespoon of chia, have approximately one eight-ounce glass of water or other liquid. If you are putting the chia in a smoothie or drink, you should consume it immediately because the chia swells when it gets wet and within ten minutes you will have a glass of a gelatin-like substance.
2. You can make “Chia Gel”
(source: Chia, The Complete Guide to the Ultimate Superfoodby Wayne Coates, PhD , 2012)
1 cup of cool water
1 and 3/4 tablespoons of chia seeds (I use 2 tablespoons)
1. Pour the water into a sealable container. Slowly pour the chia seeds into the water while briskly mixing with a wire whisk.
2. Wait 3 or 4 minutes and then whisk again.
3. Let the mixture stand about 10 minutes before whisking again.
4. Seal the container and store the mixture in the refrigerator for up to two weeks to use as needed. Whisk before using.
Note: Soaking in water will soften the chia seeds, but they will still be slightly crunchy.
You can add this gel to almost anything. I like to mix it with cinnamon, chopped nuts, goji berries, and fruit. For sweetness, I mix in a little organic raw honey. If you want a chocolate flavor, add a small amount of cacao powder.
Try adding chia seeds into your life. With all the new publicity, chia seeds are going to pop up in bars, cereal, and fruit snacks. Be careful! These products can be filled with artificial ingredients along with the chia. It is important to check all the ingredients before purchasing. You are always best to eat whole foods that are not refined, processed, or manipulated from their original state. The fewer ingredients, the better. Enjoy exploring chia!