What Are Chia Seeds?

by Lisa Bishop

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds come from Salvia hispanica, a desert herb that is a member of the mint family. It grows predominantly in southern Mexico, where it used to be grown in abundance and is now experiencing a resurgence in popularity. They may just be the next “super food” – packed with omega 3, antioxidants, fiber calcium and protein.

Chia Seeds are Healthier than Flax Seeds

chia seed plantComparable to but healthier than flax seeds, chia seeds have been around since ancient times. The Aztec Indians made them a major part of their diets and revered them so much that they were used in sacred ceremonies.

The seeds are so packed with nutrition that Aztec warriors would survive on just a handful per day while they were traveling. They are richer than flax seeds in omega three fatty acids which help brain function as well as growth. Another benefit is that they do not go bad, so they can be stored longer than flax seed. This makes it easier to buy in bulk and save money.

Easy to Digest

Chia seeds do not have to be ground up like flax seeds to get full health benefits because they are easier to digest. So they are much easier to add to a diet. Just sprinkle into yogurt or cereal or bake into pancakes or muffins. Their slightly nutty flavor is mild enough that you won’t even notice them added to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or sprinkled on a salad.

In addition to their super nutritional value, the seeds are hydrophilic, which means they absorb water. In fact, they can absorb seven to twelve times their weight in water, forming a gelatin-like substance.

When eaten with other foods, the chia seeds form a physical barrier between the carbohydrates in foods and digestive enzymes. This slows the body’s process of changing carohydrates into sugars. So instead of riding a roller coaster of sugar spiking and then crashing, the body more slowly and evenly uses the sugar for lasting energy. This makes it great for diabetics.

Chia seeds are regarded by the FDA to be regarded as “healthy food,” so feel free to add them to your diet.

How To Use Chia Seeds

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