Monday, July 27, 2009

Chia Seed Benefits

Chia Seeds are a super food that you should know about!

The picture to the left shows two chia seeds striking a pose on the skin of a lime. The seed on the left is swollen and has a gel like outer layer after soaking for about 5 minutes in water. The seed on the right is a dry chia seed. The size difference is amazing. You can see the 'superness' of this super food with your own eyes!

Many of us have heard of the Chia Pet. Some of us even remember the catchy "chi, chi, chia" jingle! But have you heard of eating chia seeds? Chia seeds are quite remarkable. In fact, they are one of the most nutritious superfoods known! Chia is an edible seed that comes from a member of the mint family called Salvia hispanica, which grows in southern Mexico. It used to be a common crop centuries ago, but was nearly forgotton. Now, it is making a comeback and more readily available. Let's take a look at our list of 11 chia health benefits and chia nutrition facts.

What Chia Can Do For You!
  1. Helps Stablize blood sugar and reduce junk food cravings - Remember the picture of the gel around the chia seed in our picture above? The gel forming is due to soluble fiber in the chia. In your digestive system, this gel actually slows down the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, thus helps to stablize blood sugar. By eliminating the peaks and valleys of your blood sugar, you get a more consistent energy level and reduced cravings.
  2. Help your concentrate and improve your mood- Chia is an excellent source of Essential Fatty Acids, which are critical for concentration and other brain functions.
  3. Energize now, Sustained energy later! -Chia has great nutrients like proteins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber, and complex carbohydrates to energize you. Chia can provide good stamina and energy over time due to its slowing of the sugar conversion mentioned in point 1. In fact, it has been called the runners food and was used by the Aztec Indians for long distance runs and endurance.
  4. Fills you up - Chia seeds actually swells in water and help to make you feel full and potentially eat less. Take a look at the chia seed picture again and see how much each seed actually swells in just a ew minutes
  5. Lower your cholesterol and heart health - Remember what is causes chia to swell in water? Chia is high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber has been shown to help lower cholesterol.
  6. Digestive Health - Chia has both soluble fiber (which forms the outer gel), and insoluble fiber. Both types of fiber are healthy for the digestive system. The insoluble fiber helps cleans the intestinal tract. The soluble fiber can act as a prebiotic and help feed the good bacteria in your digestive system.
  7. Help build lean muscle mass - Chia is high in protein and helpful in a weight loss or muscle building diet. It is even low-carb and vegetarian.
  8. Get Better nutrition from other foods - Remember the gel in point 1? Well, by maintaining the proper level of hydration and electrolytes in your stomach you actually optimize your bodies ability to effectively absorb other nutrients. Also. the essential fatty acids in chia help the body emulsify and absorbs the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  9. Build strong bones - Chia not only contains calcium, but it also contains the trace mineral boron, which speeds the rate at which calcium is absorped and utlized by the body.
  10. Healthy nails, skin, and hair - Remember that chia seeds are loaded with over 60% essential fatty acids? Not only are they good for your mental clarify, those same essential fatty acids help skin, nails, and hair grow strong and healthy. They are also a great source of protein, which is essential to grow healthy hair, nails, and skin.
  11. Maximum hydration - Chia is said to help maintain hydration which can be helpful for endurance athletes. Presoak chia seeds before your workout and consumption.
Chia Nutrition Information
  1. Super Soaker - Chia seeds can soak up to ten times their weight in water! Look at the picture above and you can see how in just a few minutes chia swelled to several times it size. If it were to soak for a half an hour or so, the gel effect is even more dramatic. The gel is actually soluable fiber that is swelling in the water into hydrophylic colloid that has a medicinal affect for many digestive health issues.
  2. Excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are the best plant source of omega-3's known. They contain over 60% essential fatty acids. They contain more omega-3's than flax seed. Omega fatty acids are important for concentration and brain health as well as other metabolic processes.
  3. Easy access - Flax seed is fantastic (if you don't know it's benefits, you should do a bit of research or give it a try). However, Chia seed is even better than flax in in terms of ease of access to the nutrition. Chia seeds do not need to be ground for their nutrients to be available to the body. Plus, chia is very shelf stable without the need for fancy packaging or concern of rancidity.
  4. Antioxidant protection -Loaded with antioxidants
  5. Vitamins and minerals - Chia seeds provide calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, zinc, and even boron (which helps the absorbing of calcium by the body).
  6. Gluten Free - Chia is a gluten free source of fiber and nutrition. If you have food allergies, check with your doctor, but chia is generally beneficial to the digestive system.
  7. High source of protein - Chia is composed of over 20% protein, which is about 2 to 3 times higher than other seeds and grains. If you are a vegetarian looking for protein sources, check out chia! Plus, the protein source in chia is readily digestible and available to the body. So, if you are pregnant or a weight lifter, chia can provide benefits.
  8. Low glycemic index - Chia has an extremely low glycemic index of 1, and actually helps to lower the rate at which other carbohydrates are converted to sugars.
Here are two easy ways to add the nutrition and health benefits of chia to your diet.
  1. Sprinkle some Chia Boost Nutrition Sprinkles on to foods you love to give them a boost. The sprinkle is a blend of Chia Seeds, Quinoa, and Sweet Potato flakes. It is crunchy, nutty, and sweet. A great topping to add to your morning oatmeal cereal, yogurt, a peanut butter sandwich, you name it! 
  2. Try these chocolate chocolate chip or pumpkin chocolate chip all natural snack cookies loaded with chia seeds and all of their benefits.