Chia (Salvia hispanica) is an ancient grain that formed a staple of the Aztec and Mayan diets. It has been rediscovered and is now considered a modern “super food” because of its high nutrient content.
Chia seeds contain 30-35% oil, mostly omega-3 and omega-6 efas. Over 60% of this oil is ALA (the same efa found in flax). I’ve previously written on the many benefits of Omega-3 EFAs. Chia also contains 16-22% of easily digested gluten-free protein, supplying all of the essential amino acids. Chia seeds are very high in fiber and absorb many times their weight in water forming a gel which absorbs toxins and helps to cleanse and regulate the colon. This gel also slows the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar, helping to maintain normal blood sugar levels and reducing the need for insulin in diabetics. It also reduces appetite and increases satiety, thus assisting with weight loss. Chia is also a significant source of vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin C, quercitin and other antioxidants.
Chia seeds were prized by the Mayans as an easily carried energy source for travel and war. It can be stored for long time because of its high antioxidant content and is soft enough to be chewed without grinding. Chia is easy to add to our modern diets – sprinkle on cereal (my favorite way to use it) or salad, add to smoothies, or simply eat by the spoonful. Whole or ground chia can be added to baking like cookies, muffins, pancakes or bread. Because it’s a food, there are no contraindications for eating it; it doesn’t interfere with any medication or supplement and it provides wonderful nutrition for pregnant moms and children.
The recommended amount of chia seed for an adult is one tablespoon per day. This provides 2.5 g of omega 3 efa; 2 g of protein; 5 g of fiber; 70 mg calcium; 35 mg magnesium; nearly 3 mg of iron, 6 mg vitamin C, plus many other nutrients.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.