You may have heard about chia pets, the adorable children’s toy made from sprouted seeds. These beloved toys are actually powered by chia seeds, which give them lush green hair.
Surprisingly enough, the seeds have grown popular over the last few years for their overwhelming amount of healthy compounds.
What Are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are little black seeds commonly found in health food stores. The seeds originate from Mexico, although Aztecs, Mayans, Incans and Native Americans commonly consumed the seed throughout Central and South America (1).
The name “chia” is said to come from the Mayan word for strength. The seeds are harvested from a plant formally known as Salvia hispanica, which is a member of the mint family (2).
Why Should You Eat Chia Seeds?
The seeds contain 5 grams of fiber per tablespoon of whole seeds. This fiber bulks up your stool, helps digestion and helps you feel more full (3). They are also chock-full of omega-3, manganese, phosphorus and protein (4).
Controls Blood Sugar
Chia gel is often used in desserts to slow the digestion of sugars by creating a barrier between carbohydrates and digestive enzymes. This results in a steady release of energy instead of sugar highs and crashes, which is particularly helpful for diabetics. Try it in pudding or fruit yogurt !
Keeps you Hydrated
Because chia seeds can absorb so much water, they help your body retain water and electrolytes, which is great for athletes and active children. If you’re going to be speding a day out in the sun, have some chia gel at breakfast and drink plenty of water to keep you safe from heat stroke.
Easy to Digest
Chis seeds are easily digested and absorbed by your digestive tract. Most of ther nutrients they contain are water-soluble, so soaked seeds are even easier for your body to process.
Cleans your Intestines
Chia seeds bulk up stool sweep through your digestive tract to clear away any old debris. It also helps dislodge anything that may be stuck along the way. In fact, chia is often used to keep patient regular and prevent constipation.
Chia seeds are well-priced for what they contain. A 1lb bags costs roughly $8-10 and 2 ounces of dry chia seeds makes about 17 ounces of gel. That’s 1$ per 17 ounces of gel, which typically lasts 4 days. No other superfood costs so little.
Chia seeds taste amazing, so you can use them in anything from salad dressing to baked goods to pasta sauce. Add them to soups, ice cream and even juice.
Chia seeds are gluten-free. This makes them an important source of fiber and protein that’s suitable for just about everyone. Use it to replace wheat, barley, rye and oats.
Additional Chia Health Benefits
The tiny seeds also promote weight loss by fighting insulin resistance, which is linked to an increase in belly fat.
They also contain an amino acid called Tryptophan, which helps regulate appetite, promotes better sleep and improves mood. It can also improve blood pressure in diabetics (5).
The seeds are also believed to prevent heart disease, enhance exercise performance and even reverse metabolic syndrome (6).
Other benefits include (2):
- Controls blood sugar levels,
- Lowers LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol)
- Raises HDL cholestrol
- Fights cardiovascular disease
- Fights colorectal cancer (7)
How To Use Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are incredibly versatile in the kitchen, as they can be used in pudding, baked goods and salads. They have a mild, nutty flavor that complements just about anything.
The seeds are also hydrophilic, meaning that they absorb liquid and create a gel. In under ten minutes, the seeds can soak roughly ten times it’s own weight in liquid!
You can make your own chia gel by soaking 1/3 cup of seeds in 2 cups of water or juice and letting it sit in a sealed glass container overnight.
When made with water, the gel can last up to 3 weeks in the fridge. This gel can then be used in smoothies and desserts or simply taken on its own.
The seeds can also be ground into a flour and used in vegan and gluten-free baking or as a protein shake. If you like the texture of the seeds, add them raw to granola or oatmeal for a quick energy boost.