Is chia seeds (Salvia hispanica), the so-called “superfood,” only hippies hit food or something more? What is this chia seed phenomenon? Let’s take a look…
In the Mayan language “chia” means strength, as well as strengthening. Myths and rumors tell us that Chia seeds were the secret food of the Aztec. Mayas and Inca soldiers, secret in as that chia seeds allowed them to improve their stamina and become stronger in war situations. Bullshit marketing myths or facts?
The ancient Aztec identified chia seed as a “Superfood” and valued it so high that chia seeds were used often as a currency.
I also read some rumors that the Aztec soldiers and runners lived only with a tablespoon of chia seeds per day – apparently, it had enough nutrition in those harsh conditions. Again, is that supposed to convince me and make me go get this “superfood”?
Today chia seeds are apparently a favorite food of trainers, muscle builders and athletes. Why is this ancient mystical seed so amazing thing, so amazing that it would be worth investing in? I started looking for facts about chia seeds…
Many people will tell that chia seeds are the perfect food for dieters and “weight-watchers” because it reduces appetite and eliminates food cravings.
I was skeptical and so I began to investigate whether chia seeds are as good as what the expectations based on marketers & people’s opinions, let alone mystical ancient litanies…
Chia seeds nutrition
Chia seeds contain 40% healthy fats and up to 25% protein by their weight. One serving (28g) chia seeds has about 180mg of calcium (calcium intake recommendation for adults is 800 mg/day). Chia is also a good source of magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, molybdenum and niacin.
Chia is great and perhaps the best source for fiber intake (1 serving or about 2,5 tablespoons contain up to 10 grams of fiber), antioxidants, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3. As well a lot of manganese and phosphorus, which are vital for healthy teeth and bones.
Like Brazil nuts, also chia seeds lower bad LDL cholesterol and raise good HDL cholesterol, according to studies. Your heart will thank you, diseases are less likely to occur with a diet which has a lot of good cholesterol (and small amounts of bad).
Fiber content: Chia is a superstar on the fiber content if compared to other fiber rich foods such as oatmeal. 100 grams of oatmeal includes 10 grams of fiber, while 28g or less than 3 tablespoons of chia seeds contains the same amount of fiber. With chia seed, you don’t need to eat too many carbohydrates to get enough fiber in your diet.
Chia seeds are the richest vegetable source of omega-3 fatty acids, and also contains omega-6 fatty acids. Both of them are very important for brain health and optimal brain function, but also extremely important to overall health. But remember that chia seeds do not replace the importance of eating fish.
Chia seeds nutrition facts
Chia seeds astounds with its nutritional profile. It defeats the most healthful foods such as salmon (omega-3), and blueberries with its antioxidant content.
Impressive, isn’t it?
Chia seeds win flax-seed almost in everything and tastes much better.
Chia is a complete protein, which has all most important amino acids, making it one of the world’s best muscle-building foods. Best pioneers in the horserace industry offer chia seeds for racehorses, and it is certainly the ideal nutrition to build a super-horse.
Chia seed would be a good add-on to your diet only with its nutritional content, but what other benefits chia offers?
Chia seeds unexpected benefits
Chia seeds have some surprising benefits outside of its nutrition content, which makes it an impressive superfood.
- Chia seeds are perfect food for hydration
When chia seeds are placed in water, it becomes a gel-like “chia pudding”, which helps in hydration. Chia seed will absorb water up to 12 times its own weight. Consider drinking chia gel beforehand if you need to stay hydrated, for example, long flights or train journeys.
- Fiber content of chia seeds helps your restroom visits
For most people, this could be the best benefit of chia seeds. The incredible fiber content of chia seeds helps your digestive function and cleanse the bowel, which makes it one of the best foods for healthy bowel function. You will find that after eating chia seeds, your excrement is “perfect”, just the way shit should be.
What you see on a toilet says a lot about your health. If your “shit shape” is not good, there might (dietary) problems that severely affect your health. Eating chia seeds will change this and make the so-called “perfect stool“, so funny or disgusting as it sounds.
See the photo of how stool shape will affect your health, this is the easiest way to see whether you have any problems with your health.
Type 4 is the Holy Grail of bowel movement – is exactly what chia seed eaters will experience. This an is an astounding benefit, right?
For this same reason, chia seed is ultimate food for dieters and people who are looking to burn fat or lose weight.
Why? Because when you eat chia seeds, your hunger gets almost eliminated. Whenever I eat a good amount of chia seeds, I usually do not want to eat anything for up to 6 hours. For this reason, I’ve found that chia seeds aren’t good food for people who want to “bulk up” and eat more to build muscle – but on the other hand its great for weight watchers.
Are chia seeds safe?
There are no known allergies to chia seeds, (if used properly) it is suitable for consumption for almost everyone. Chia seeds are also gluten-free. Chia seeds are also completely non-GMO. And if you buy organic, then chia has never been sprayed with pesticide chemicals.
If you experience stomach pain, diarrhea or swelling after eating chia seeds, the reason is that you ate them without soaking. Keep in mind that the chia seeds absorb 12 times the amount of water, and it’s not a good process to make in your stomach – it is absolutely vital to soak chia seeds before eating. The fact that the chia absorbs fluid from your body can be causing problems such as abdominal pain, which some will report as a negative experience of the use of chia seeds.
Historically, chia seeds were eaten only with water-soaked gel. Put at least 8 times the amount of water to the amount of chia seeds you are going to eat. Otherwise, the seeds will expand in your gastrointestinal tract and draw fluid from your body, causing dehydration. So eat only chia seed gel.
However, I can not say that chia seeds would be suitable for absolutely everyone because everyone is different. Millions of people have fallen in love with chia seeds forever. But it’s not necessarily for everyone, you will find it out by trying it.
Many nutrition expert recommends chia seeds for pregnant women. When pregnant, every woman needs a lot of omega-3 fatty acids for the developing child, especially for child’s brain development.
Many women are concerned about fish eating because of mercury and other heavy metals, for this reason, it is good to have alternatives such as chia seeds. But in my opinion, chia seeds is not a good way to replace eating fish, and people definitely should also eat high-quality fish or heavy metal free clean fish oil – high-quality fish oil will not break your budget.
Dosage? I recommend to eat chia seeds up to 2-3 tablespoons a day (soaked) and to keep breaks some days. In my opinion, you should take breaks at regular intervals from certain foods and supplements, as it might not be a good idea to continue to eat them on a daily basis. The continuous daily intake of certain same foods can even develop food allergies – for example, if you’re eating eggs every day, there is a chance you’ll develop the allergy to eggs.
Chia seeds might decrease blood pressure according to some studies, so if you’ve already got a low blood pressure, it may cause some negative reactions and may lead to hypotension. Again this is one reason why you should take breaks from eating chia seeds. Also, it not good to get too much fiber, as it can cause stomach problems.
Chia seed storaging & shelf life – perfect “preparedness food”?
As with almost every food, you want to store chia seeds in an airtight bag/box away from light and moisture, at room temperature.
The shelf life of chia seeds is almost everlasting. Chia does not go rancid easily and thus does not lose potency. Chia seeds have high levels of antioxidants and other rare nutrient compounds to prevent certain fatty acids from turning rancid.
Chia seeds are a perfect “preparedness food” that can be stored for so-called “rainy day”, food crisis or natural disaster. It is always good to have some standby food tucked away. You’ll never be able to know when you and your family do not have access to food for weeks or even months due to some natural disaster such as hurricane, earthquake or flood.
Other good foods that will stay in standby and are valuable nutritionally and viable as barter items in a crisis are unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt, honey, coconut sugar, and coffee.
How to use chia seeds
It’s a good idea to soak chia seeds for 5-15 minutes before eating, to prevent them using your body fluids to grow and expand. I repeat, the chia seed absorbs up to twelve times their weight in water. So I do not recommend to spoon up a lot dry chia seeds in your mouth. Dry chia seed can get stuck to your throat and swell up there causing esophageal blockage.
Unlike with flax seeds, you can get benefits of chia seeds without grinding / crushing them. Chia seeds can be placed in a drinking cup, for example, and top them with water, and stir for about 5 minutes and they are ready to use.
You can put chia seeds or chia seed gel to almost everything, for example, yoghurt, muesli or a smoothie. I will also share the recipes that I use almost every day with chia seeds.
Chia seeds recipe – blueberry pudding
In fact, I’ll share now this one delicious chia seed recipe, not the easiest, but very interesting and delicious recipe for chia seeds.
Chia coconut milk blueberry pudding
Let chia seed to gelatinize with coconut milk, add honey as much as you like and complete the serving with blueberries.
Here is also easier, a very simple Mexican-style Chia Fresca recipe infograph.
Where to get chia seeds?
I ordered my chia seeds from iHerb.com which ships to over 150 different countries (including China, Korea, Russia, Brazil, Singapore and Europe), and carries great selection of chia seeds and virtually every natural supplement there is. I’m using Nutiva organic chia seeds, which I have found to be outstanding quality.
There is also larger chia pack available, but make no mistake thinking that you can easily consume 12 oz (340g) chia seeds. Remember they soak up water up to 12 times of their weight. Personally, 1 package of chia seeds lasts a long time.
You can get chia seeds also from Amazon.com.
I highly recommend adding chia seeds to daily diet (of course with some breaks). I have used chia seeds for about 4 years and I consider it as one of the best superfoods.
Chia seeds are particularly great as a supper or night snack. The chia seed has high amounts of tryptophan, a precursor to melatonin – so it may help you to sleep better. Chia also contains a large amount of magnesium, which is also important for good night sleep.
Try this night snack: greek yogurt, banana, coconut oil and raw honey. Mix them together with fork and add gelatinized chia gel to make real “tryptophan-bomb” which will help you sleep better. Enjoy with couple brazil nuts.
And as for warning, I have to mention, once you try chia seeds and see the benefits… You might get addicted.
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