If you remember the “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia” anthem song for the once popular Chia Pets, you may be surprised to learn of its recent return to popularity for a different reason. The infomercial famous Chia seeds are actually now considered one of the new superfoods. The seed comes from the Salvia hispanica plant, which is a member of the mint family, growing in the southern regions of Mexico and Guatemala. Although the idea may seem new to us, the use of Chia seeds goes back to the times of the existence of the Aztec and Mayan nations. “Chia” is actually the Mayan word, meaning strength. Aztec warriors utilized the energizing component of the Chia seed and consumed it for much needed, long-lasting energy. Mind you, that only about 1 tablespoon was needed, so imagine the powerful punch of nutrients that each small seed holds. They are packed with fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein. Beyond energizing, Aztecs also used the seed for medicinal purposes, such as for the treatment of joint pain and skin sores.
What’s so Special About Chia?
To get a sense of how Chia seeds compared to other superfoods, think of the following percentages. Chia seeds contain twice the protein of any other grain or seed. In addition, they contain five times the calcium of milk and twice the amount of potassium than in a banana. They beat out blueberries as antioxidant favorites, tripling the percentage in the fruit and doing the same for iron as compared to spinach. All of these sources happen to be the go-to sources for each of the previous nutrients, so this should tell you something about the power behind the Chia.
The New Diet “Pill”
For those chronic dieters, the Chia seed also demonstrates properties to limit people’s cravings. They cause a slow release of the good carbs so that sugars are absorbed slower. They can also help with digestive issues due to their high fiber content. When Chia seeds are digested, they form a gel-like coating in your stomach after coming in contact with fluids. This gel expands the size of the Chia seed, which allows your body to feel full and ward off hunger pangs. Chia seeds can be a safe and natural diet pill alternative. They are much cheaper and won’t lead to jittery feelings and adverse health concerns. It is easy to use, convenient and versatile. So, for people with weight loss goals, the consumption of the seeds may aid any diet efforts.
Chia seeds contain a large amount of antioxidants, which makes them stand up against deterioration. They can be easily stored and most importantly, they are readily consumed by the body. That is, they do not have to be ground (like for flax seeds) and your body easily absorbs it. Chia seeds can be eaten raw and used similar to flax seeds, where you mix them into your foods.
Beneficial for Blood Sugar Levels
For diabetics or those simply monitoring their blood sugar, Chia seeds can also help with maintaining healthy and steady levels. This is due to both the gel and fiber content, which allows refined starches to be slowly released into the bloodstream. This prevents a spike from occurring and therefore, the crash of energy that happens after the peak. Slow digestion of carbs and fibers allows the body to store and use energy more efficiently. This will help you maintain energy throughout the day at an even pace where you are never left feeling those withdrawal symptoms that occur when your bloodstream is stripped quickly of its sugar content (e.g., jitteriness, fatigue). This aspect of the Chia seed can be especially useful for people suffering from diabetes as well as thyroid conditions, hypoglycemia, celiac disease, IBS, and high cholesterol.
As with most antioxidant packed food, there are also anti-aging benefits that accompany the Chia seeds. Unlike the flax and sesame seeds, Chia seeds have an incredible longevity. The reason why they are able to hold up for so long is that they do contain this high amount of antioxidants. If they can maintain a long lifetime for themselves, think of what they can do for your body. Unlike other supplements, they do not need other chemicals to prevent expiration. Antioxidants are known for their ability to ward off free radicals in the body, which promote premature aging.
It may take awhile for you to wrap your mind around the idea that an “As Seen on TV” product could actually contain one of the most powerful seeds. Once you get past this point, however, you may be pleasantly surprised with the difference that you feel. Your energy, metabolism, and entire immune system will be more efficient and stable due to the various nutrients that the Chia seed contains. This is a super-food, revisited after quite some time, but deserves a second look. Sometimes, there just isn’t any purpose in re-inventing the wheel, or seed in this case.