The health benefits of chia seeds date back centuries ago to the Aztec Warriors. They were said to have been fueled exclusively by these seeds during their battles. They have been given the name “running food” because the Aztecs were able to maintain their stamina and energy as they traveled through lands eating only chia seeds. The name “chia” comes from the Mayan word meaning “strength.”
Chia is a part of the mint family and is grown in tall plants. They are native to Mexico and Guatemala but are now grown all over. They can either be white or black in colour. Chia is a very easy plant to grow and is resistant to drought and pests, which means there is no need for harmful pesticides to be used on these crops.
They are tiny seeds that pack a powerful punch. There is a whopping 11 grams of fiber in a 1 ounce serving. Moreover, chia seeds can absorb up to 10x their size so they aid in satiety and help move food through the intestinal tract. This is a huge benefit for Diabetics and anyone concerned with blood sugar because the gel layer that forms around the seed as it absorbs water acts as a barrier between carbs and the enzymes that break them down. This causes a slow release of glucose into the bloodstream, effectively keeping blood sugar levels steady.
Chia is 23% protein containing 8 essential amino acids. They can be added to water after a workout to give you an added boost for building muscle. Although, you still want to make sure you are eating an adequate source of protein and carbs after a good workout. Drinking chia water throughout the day is an effective way to control hunger as well since you are getting a constant supply of protein and fiber.
They are an excellent source of calcium as well, yielding over 300mg per 3 tablespoons. This is way more than you can get from milk and it is a much better source. Another very impressive quality of these little seeds is that they contain 8x the amount of omega 3 fatty acids as a serving of salmon at 5000mg per ounce! The iron content in chia is 6x that of spinach, which is a great source of iron as well. Lastly, chia seeds are just as potent an antioxidant as blueberries, specifically the black seeds from South America.
So how do you eat these super seeds? Unlike flax seeds, they don’t need to be ground before consumption so you can easily sprinkle them onto your food, in soups, drinks or in water. They don’t add any flavour so they are an excellent nutritious addition to any meal or snack! They can also be used as a main ingredient in baking healthy treats, such as these delicious chia bars.
- 6 large Medjool dates
- ½ cup chia seeds
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or vanilla beans), or a pinch of cinnamon
Optional add-ins: handful of chocolate chunks (chopped 100% Cacao Unsweetened Organic Baking Chocolate), unsweetened shredded coconut
Soak dates in water to help with processing. Remove pits and pulse in food processor until a paste forms. In a medium bowl, mix date paste with coconut oil, vanilla and add-ins. A thick dough will form. Roll into balls or press into bottom of baking dish. Chill before serving.
By: Megan McDonald CNP