God, Hope & Helping Others
by Cindy Murdoch | Staff Writer |growingandusingherbs.com
Chia seeds have been used for centuries for their numerous health benefits – omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, calcium, antioxidants and so much more.
Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family, is the plant that produces chia seeds. Believed to have originated in Central and South America, chia seeds were a staple in the diets of the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. The seeds of Salvia columbariae, called “Golden Chia,” were used by the Native Americans in the southwestern United States.
The word “chia” originated from a similar word in the Mayan language that means “strength.” The Aztec warriors used chia seeds to boost their energy and increase their stamina, causing it to be referred to as “Aztec Running Food.” Athletes today, especially distance runners, continue to use it as an endurance enhancing super-food.
Chia seeds were a regular part of the Aztec’s and Mayan’s diet. They ground them into flour, pressed them for oil and mixed them with water and juice. Chia seeds were revered and attributed with almost magical qualities because of their ability to increase energy and stamina.
During their conquests, Aztec warriors used chia seeds as their main source of energy. They also used it medicinally to relieve joint pain. Although once a major crop in Mexico, the Spanish conquistadors banned its cultivation because of its use in Aztec religious ceremonies. Its popularity is returning, and with good reason!
Everyone can benefit with the addition of chia seeds to their diet. Chia seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids – 100% more than that found in salmon. Chia seeds have twice as many antioxidants as blueberries, six times more calcium than milk, and provide 42% of the daily fiber requirements with just 2 tablespoons. Two tablespoons of chia seeds also provide 6 grams of protein, plus minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.
Let’s look more closely at the fiber provided by chia seeds. Although the American Dietetic Association recommends 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day, the average American only consumes 12 to 15 grams. By daily adding 4 tablespoons of chia seeds to your diet, 20 grams of dietary fiber is automatically included in your diet every single day. Fiber is vital to all aspects of your health. Fiber slows down your digestive process and is a key component to weight loss. Even more important, fiber sweeps out your digestive tract helping you to eliminate toxins, an important aspect of health.
Other benefits of chia seeds include:
If you are thinking about adding chia seeds into your diet, consider the following:
Optimally, one would consume four tablespoons of chia per day. This amount would provide you with 10 grams of omega-3s, and approximately 12 grams of protein, 20 grams of dietary fiber and only 240 calories! It also delivers 24% of your calcium daily requirements, 16% of your iron daily requirements, and 16% of your zinc. Chia seeds provide both soluble and insoluble fiber.
Chia seed’s mild, nutty flavor goes well with both sweet and savory dishes. Chia seeds can be used in puddings and smoothies, sprinkled on top of many types of dishes and added to baked goods. Chia seeds can often be used in place of ground flaxseeds or poppy seeds.
They can be consumed raw or prepared in a number of different ways including:
Combine water and chia seeds. Refrigerate for eight hours. Heat lemon juice and sugar over low-medium heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool completely. Mix sugar mixture and chia seed mixture. Fill four glasses with ice. Divide chia seed mixture between the glasses. Top off each glass with club soda. Use lemon wedges for garnish.
Chia seeds can be stored for long periods of time without going rancid allowing you to save money by purchasing them in bulk.
Chia seeds deliver a healthy nutritional punch!
Sources: The Amazing Health Benefits of Chia Seeds; Chia: Ancient Super-Seed Secret; The AncieHYPERLINK “http://whatscookingamerica.net/CharlotteBradley...; Chia Seed Benefits: 10 Reasons To Add Chia To Your Diet; Top 10 Health Benefits of Chia Seeds