Tiny, but mighty, chia seeds are a nutrition powerhouse. They’ve been used by the Aztecs and Mayans since as far back as 3500 B.C. and the word “chia” in Mayan actually means “strength”. Their nutritional value includes the following:
- Excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids – one of the richest plant-based sources, helping to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering triglycerides and bad LDL while raising your good HDL cholesterol.
- High in fiber – one of the best sources of fiber available, containing 40% fiber by weight. Fiber doesn’t raise your blood sugar and your body doesn’t need insulin to get rid of it, thereby lowering the risk of developing diabetes. Fiber feeds the good bacteria in your gut, a necessity for a healthy immune system and disease prevention, including digestive problems. Fiber also helps you feel fuller, leading you to eat less and maintain a healthy weight.
- High in quality protein – chia seeds are 20% protein and are considered a complete protein because they provide all nine of the essential amino acids that your body can’t produce. An excellent source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
- High in antioxidants to help prevent chronic inflammation.
- Provide vitamins and minerals that include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, potassium and copper.
Chia seeds have almost no taste and can be incorporated into many of the foods you eat, including salads, smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal and baked goods. When mixed with water, they form a gel which can also be used as a substitute for eggs in vegan baking (mix 1 tablespoon chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water and let sit for a few minutes). It’s better not to eat them alone, since they will soak up your saliva and be hard to swallow. Always mix them with other foods or liquids.
Chia seeds are a whole grain food, non-GMO and usually grown organically. They are readily available in most stores and online.