Just when you thought all they were good for was to make green hair for a toy pet—wrong! Chia seeds are getting some much-deserved respect.
Let’s talk about the history of chia seeds first. They were a staple of the Mayan and Aztec diet, especially for warriors who believed that one tablespoon was enough to sustain a person for 24 hours.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids—even more than flax seeds—chia seeds also have an incredible supply of antioxidants (three times that of blueberries). They don’t deteriorate over time or become rancid like flax.
In fact, chia seeds—sometimes called “tiny vitamins”—can store two to four years without refrigeration, and four-plus years with refrigeration. Contrast that to flax, which can go rancid in less than 90 days. No wonder some are calling chia a “survivalist food” for the pantry!
Full of fiber
Also, chia seeds provide a mega-dose of fiber (25 grams offer nearly seven grams), calcium (five times that of milk), phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron (three times that of spinach), niacin, potassium (two times that of bananas), and zinc. They supply two times the protein of any other seed or grain.
That’s not all. Chia seeds form a gel when immersed in water for 30 minutes. Scientists believe this is the reaction that also takes place in the body, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar.
According to Dr. Oz, that process is great news for those looking to monitor sugar, lose weight, or avoid spikes and crashes in energy. He named chia one of the five supplements a person has to have, particularly after age 50 when metabolism slows down.
Above and beyond its health benefits, Dr. Oz argues the fiber in chia makes one feel full, helps with staying regular, and allows one to shed pounds naturally.
With renewed interest in chia, farmers are getting into the game. Not only in cultivating the plant, which insects don’t bother with (thus making it easier to grow organically and non-GMO), but also in incorporating into animal feed to enrich milk, eggs, and more.
Many stores are now riding the wave and carrying chia products. Nature’s Path, for example, has a cereal, Apple Crumble Love Crunch, that features chia.
If you’re looking for the next superfood, you might want to give chia a chance!
“The 5 Supplements You Need”, www.droz.com
"30 Years After Chia Pets, Seeds Hit Food Aisles" by Stephanie Strom, www.nytimes.com, 11/12
“Chia Seeds Are the Ultimate Survival Food for Long-Term Storage” by Mike Adams, www.naturalnews.com, 11/12
“What is Chia?” by Andrew Weil, www.drweil.com, 5/06