Chia seeds (also known as silvia hispanica) are one of the most amazing nutrient dense foods around.
Packed with antioxidants, phytonutients, omega 3 fatty acids, fiber and proteins, they can improve your health dramatically.
Chia seeds were cultivated over 3500 years ago by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs in Central America and were the main component of their diets. They were eaten alone or combined with other grains, mixed with water to make a beverage and used medicinally to alleviate constipation, colds and sore throats.
In Mayan, “chia” means strength . In fact, Aztec warriors ingested them to boost their energy and endurance as they fought to take control of surrounding lands.
The Aztecs thought chia was so valuable, the seeds were used as currency for some time, to pay taxes to the Aztec priesthood and nobility and they were so revered that the Aztecs offered the seeds up to the Gods in religious ceremonies.
After conquering Mexico in the 1500’s, the Spaniards banned the growing of Chia plants because they played a role in pagan religious ceremonies. These crops were replaced with grains from the “old world”,such as corn and wheat.
A few people, however, took the seed into the mountains of southern Mexico and northern Guatemala where they continued to grow chia for their own use.
Lucky for us, because in 1991 along came the Northwestern Argentina Regional Project whose goal it is to find new industrial crops that could help diversify agricultural production and increase profits for farmers in Argentina.
Chia was selected because of its health benefits. Now it is being grown in many countries and people around the world are able to take advantage of its exceptional nutritional properties.
- Reduces cholesterol - they have been shown to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol as well
- Stabilizes blood sugar - helps diabetes and hypoglycemia. When added to water and allowed to sit for 15 minutes it forms a gel. In the intestines, this gel slows down the process by which carbohydrates convert to sugar
- Boosts energy - It is a perfect balance of protein, carbohydrates, fat and fiber. It has helped athletes perform at optimal levels.
- Anti-inflammatory because of chia's high content of omega-3 fatty acids, it can help manage the pain and inflammation of arthritis, as well as keep joints well lubricate
- Great source of fiber A 15 gram serving can provide 4 to 5 grams of fiber.
- Retains electrolytes in the body Chia seeds can absorb up to 30 times their weight in water or juice. This helps prolong hydration in the body especially during exercise or exertion.
- They are gluten free - chia seeds can be eaten by people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity
- Anti-aging - filled with antioxidants
- Prevent osteoporosis – have high amounts of calcium that improve bone strength
- Helps alleviate depression - filled with omega-3 fatty acids. People with lower amounts of omega 3's are at risk of feeling depressed.
Chia seeds are not only great for you, they are great for the environment. The oils within the plant and its stems are hated by bugs and pests, so they do not need to be sprayed with toxic pesticides.
And, because they are so high in antioxidants (they contain vitamin C and vitamin E as well as cinnamic acid), they do not spoil easily and so have a long shelf life - for up to two years!!
Chia's Nutritional Value
Gram for Gram Chia contains:
- More calcium than milk
- More potassium than bananas
- Approximately 14 magnesium than broccoli
- Approximately 5 times more protein than kidney beans
- More antioxidants than blueberries
- More iron than spinach
- More omega-3 fatty acids than salmon
- More phosphorus than whole milk
- More fiber than bran flakes
- More lignans than flax seeds
How to Eat Chia Seeds
Chia is very versatile. Because of its mild taste you can easily combine it with other foods without radically changing their taste. People add chia to their salad dressings, sauces, bread batters, cookie batters, puddings, yogurt and more. You can just sprinkle the seeds directly on your salad, add to smoothies (that's what I usually do) or add them to a bowl of cereal or granola.
You can also soak them in water and make a drink very popular in Mexico called "chia fresca" .
Chia Fresca Recipe
10 oz of filtered or pure water
1 Tbsp dry chia seeds
a few teaspoons of fresh lime juice
honey or agave nectar, to taste (optional)
Stir the chia seeds into the water; let them sit for about five minutes. Stir again, and let sit another 10 minutes or so. The longer it sits, the more gel-like the seeds and water become. Add lime juice and sweetener to taste.
Some people substitute apple juice for the water and forgo adding any additional sweetener. You can experiment.
This drink is very refreshing and energizing and many people swear it helps with acid reflux as the gel-like mixture absorbs their excess acid.
Other Pages You May Be Interested In
Raw Food Diet
Raw Blended Soups and Smoothies
Raw Salad Recipes
Raw Dessert Recipes
Top 10 Superfoods
Go to Guide To Body Cleansing Home Page From Chia Seeds