Chia Seeds

As I mentioned earlier, this morning I added Chia seeds to my oatmeal breakfast. The combo was oats, canned pumpkin, almond milk, raisins, half a mini sliced apple, half a sliced banana, and a teaspoon of chia seeds sprinkled on top (I added these after cooking the oats). And of course, the obligatory scoop of peanut butter to top it all off 🙂

oats2

Sorry about the messy bowl…I was starving and dug into it before taking a picture of the assembled (prettier) bowl of oats 🙂

Anyway, Chia Seeds have been in the news quite a lot over the last year or so, and have in some sense taken over the attention given to Flax seeds (another post on the benefits of flax seeds will follow at some point!).

Nutrition

Chia Seeds come from the plant called Salvia Hispanica L., which grows in southern Mexico. It was cultivated by the Aztecs, and used by Aztec warriors as a source of energy. They also apparently used it for medicinal purposes – to relieve inflammation, joint pains and various skin disorders. Chia seeds have recently gained so much popularity because they are a nutritional powerhouse for essential Omega – 3 fatty acids, and an excellent source of fiber, calcium, protein and minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, niacin and zinc.

Just two tablespoons of chia seed have 7g fiber, 4g of protein, 205 mg of calcium and 5g of omega-3 fatty acids. In comparison, 2 tablespoons of flaxseed provide 3.5g of omega-3 and 4 ounces of cooked salmon have 2- 3 grams. This article provides a detailed description of the nutritional benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, but in short, these fatty acids may provide significant benefits in reducing inflammation, feelings of depression, and in promoting cardiovascular and heart health. For vegetarians, and those who cannot/do not eat fish (like salmon, tuna and mackerel – all of which are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids) chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts, are an excellent alternative source of this nutrient. Even for individuals who do eat fish, chia seeds can be a much more convenient option since they can easily be added to food and drinks like cereal, yogurt and oatmeal. The fiber in these seeds also aids in digestion, and in keeping our blood sugar levels even so that we maintain a constant stream of steady energy (and avoid the sugar-crash that we get after eating low-fiber, high-glycemic foods).

The Seed

Chia seeds are are small black seeds, much like flaxseeds except that they do not need to be ground up for the essential oils to be released.

chia seeds close 

They are also easily digested by our bodies, and as I mentioned above, can be added to a variety of foods. I like to add a couple of teaspoons of these seeds to my morning bowl of cereal or oatmeal. But they can also be added to yogurt, salads, soups, smoothies, dips, and any recipes for baked goods (think muffins, scones, cookies… you might as well increase the nutritional profile of these sweet treats, right?! 🙂 ) You can also add them to sandwiches – though I admit, it might seem strange sprinkling these on top of a deli sandwich 🙂

In any case, the addition of chia seeds to one’s diet can provide many benefits, and so it’s certainly something I aim to do more of this year. I have the following brand of chia seed at home, but you can order these on-line from any supplement or health food store, Amazon.com or even buy them at Whole Foods.

My canister of chia seeds:

chia cannister

chia back

So I encourage you to try incorporating these in your diet if you don’t already do so. The health benefits can only do you good!

– Cheers!

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Posted on January 12, 2011, in Food, Nutrition Tips. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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