Have you ever had a chia pet? The beloved little toy made from sprouted seeds? These interesting toys are actually powered by chia seeds, which give them lush green hair.
Surprisingly, chia seeds have grown very popular over the last few years because of their incredible amount of healthy compounds.
What Are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds come from the flowering plant Salvia hispanica, or also known as chia, which belongs to the mint family. They are native to southern Mexico and Guatemala, although there is evidence that the plant was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times. In Mayan, “chia” means strength.
Why Should You Eat Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds contain around 5 grams of fiber for each tablespoon of whole seeds. This fiber bulks up your stool, helps digestion and makes you feel more full. They also contain a great amount of omega 3, manganese, phosphorus and protein.
Controls Blood Sugar
Chia gel is usually used in desserts to help slow down the digestion of sugars – they do this by making a barrier between carbohydrates and digestive enzymes. The process then results in a steady release of energy instead of sugar highs and crashes, which is particularly helpful for people suffering from diabetes. Add chia seeds to a pudding or fruit yogurt!
Keeps you Hydrated
Because of their ability to absorb so much water, chia seeds help your body retain water and electrolytes, which is particularly good for athletes and active children. If you’re planning to spend a day out in the sun, have some chia gel for breakfast and drink plenty of water to keep yourself safe from heat stroke.
Easy to Digest
Chia seeds are easily digested and absorbed by your digestive tract. Most of the nutrients chia seeds contain are water-soluble, which makes soaked seeds even easier for the body to process.
Cleans your Intestines
Chia seeds are able to sweep through your digestive tract and clear away any old debris. In fact, chia seeds are often used to keep a regular stool and prevent constipation.
Chia seeds are not expensive compared to what they contain. A 2lb bags costs roughly $12-14 and 2 ounces of dry chia seeds makes about 17 ounces of gel. That’s less than 1$ per 17 ounces of gel, which typically lasts 4 days. There is no other superfood that costs so little. You can find chia seeds in healthy food stores or you can get them online here.
These seeds are gluten-free, which makes them an amazing source of fiber and protein that’s suitable for just about anyone. Eat chia seeds as a replacement to wheat, barley, rye, and oats.
Additional Chia Health Benefits
- Chia seeds also promote weight loss by fighting insulin resistance, which is linked to an increase in stomach fat.
- They contain an amino acid called Tryptophan, which helps regulate one’s appetite, improves sleep quality and overall mood. They can also help improve blood pressure in diabetics.
- Chia seeds are believed to prevent heart disease, enhance exercise performance and even reverse metabolic syndrome.
- Lowering triglycerides and supporting healthy cholesterol levels
- Lowering blood pressure and heart disease
- Anti-inflammatory activity
- Liver-protective properties
- Anti-diabetic action
- Protection against arthritis, autoimmune disease and cancer
How To Use Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are incredibly versatile in the kitchen. You can use them in puddings, baked goods, salad dressings, soups, or even a take-away smoothie. They have a mild, nutty flavor that tastes good with just about everything.
Chia seeds are hydrophilic, which means that they absorb liquids and create a gel. The seeds can absorb around ten times their own weight in liquid!
If you would like to make your own chia gel, you can do this by soaking 1/3 cup of seeds with 2 cups of water or a juice of your choice. Place it into a glass jar and let it sit overnight.
When you make the gel with water it can last up to 3 weeks if refrigerated. The gel can then be used in smoothies and desserts or simply taken on its own.
The seeds can also be ground and used in vegan and gluten-free baking or protein shakes. If you like the texture of the seeds, add them raw to granola or oatmeal for a quick energy boost.