These days most nutritionists would agree that chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber. Interestingly, though the majority of North Americans first heard of chia from the Ch-ch-ch-chia Pet commercials in the early 1980s. In case you don’t know Chia Pets are terracotta figurines used to sprout chia. Moistened seeds of chia were applied to the grooved areas on the figurine where they sprouted and eventually resembled the fur of the animal, the figurine depicted.
Chia seeds have been around for thousands of years. It was a staple food for the ancient cultures of Aztecs and Mayans. After the Spanish conquered Latin America, they forced their own foods on the inhabitants and they forbade the growing of chia. Only the 20th century research of ancient foods uncovered this long lost superfood and brought it back to life.
What Are Chia Seeds
Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, grown in Mexico dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures. “Chia” means strength, and folklore has it that these cultures used the tiny black and white seeds as an energy booster. (Source: WebMD)
The reason the seed were considered energy boosters or “superfoods” is because they are full of nutrients. One ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contain 9 grams of saturated fats, 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 18% or recommended daily calcium intake, plus other minerals and vitamins. All that nutrition is concentrated in 139 calories.
The video below, that I found online, talks more about the nutritional value of the seeds as well as its uses.
Chia seeds have a very nice nutty flavor and for that reason they are easy to use in foods and drinks. They are often used in baked goods, sprinkled on foods or added to beverages. However, because the fiber level is quite high it is important that the use of this seed is not overdone. Fiber intake should be about 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Too much fiber may cause digestive discomfort and will interfere with the absorption of minerals.
Another benefit of these seeds is that they reduce plaque buildup in your arteries and lower your cholesterol. This translates into lowering the risk of heart attack and stroke.
How To Use Chia Seeds
The seeds can be used in many different ways
- They can be eaten raw. They have a slightly nutty flavor
- Sprinkled on your food, for example, yogurt, salads, sandwiches
- They can be used in baking including breads, cakes and biscuits
- Used in gluten free baking
Chia also comes in the form of oil or supplements. Try to avoid those. To get the full nutritional value eat the whole seed. The seeds can be ground and unlike flax seed they keep well. There are many wonderful recipes that utilize chia seeds. I will share with you some chia seed muffin recipes in the next article.