The Wonder of Chia Seeds


Chia seeds are one of these foods that, if you talk about them with other people, you’ll inevitably get a blank stare back at you. That’s fine because that gives you the chance to tell people about what is thought to be one of the healthiest foods you can eat. The name chia comes from the Aztec word for ‘oily’, which is ‘chian’, and this explains well what one of the main benefits of chia is; it is very high in omega-3 acids, which are a type of unsaturated fats.

It’s easy to get mixed up between omega-3 and omega-6; basically, omega-3 acids are the fats which are not so easy to come by. They’re in fish oils, flax seeds, kiwi seeds, and chia seeds, amongst other things. Omega-6, on the other hand, is found almost everywhere you look: nuts, vegetable oils, avocadoes, etc. As important as omega-6 oils are to our health, the balance of omega-3 to omega-6 is equally important. As it is so easy to consume plenty of omega-6, it is very easy to end up with an unbalanced consumption of the two types of oils, which are also known as essential oils. When it comes to the amount of omega-3 oil in various seed oils, the chia seed has the highest content, just above kiwi seeds, perilla and flax.

Most health conscious people will be more familiar with linseeds than they will be with chia seeds. So, if you’ve ever put a spoon of linseed into some water and left it for thirty minutes, you would have returned to find a kind of glutinous solution, kind of like a gel. Well, the same thing happens with chia seeds, which is another reason that they are so good for you; they act the same way in your gut. This means that they are really good for your digestive system, providing both a high amount of fiber, and also this action of forming a gel like solution moves through your body and cleans up as it goes. It’s also thought that this gel physically prevents the fast breaking down of carbohydrates in the body, by slowing down the action of the enzymes on the carbs.

The chia seed was once a staple food of the Aztecs, loved for its ability to sustain and to give endurance. Actually, you could live off chia almost entirely, because it has 19 amino acids, with all of the essential amino acids except taurine. It also has more iron than spinach, more calcium than milk (not that milk is any good for us anyway) and even more antioxidants than blueberries.

So, how do you consume it? Well, you can grind it up into a meal called ‘pinole’ and add it to just about anything. In Mexico, they mix the whole chia seeds with water or fruit juice to make something they call ‘chia fresca’ which translates as ‘fresh chia’. You can also sprout them in much the same way as you sprout alfalfa seeds and use them in salads.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sara macnab November 9, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Hi Nancy,

I take chia seeds daily in a drink I mix with ground flax, lecithin granules, nutritional yeast and plant protein powder ( GREENS). Would it be better to grind the chia seeds instead of mixing them whole? Also, is it better to take organic ones, or doesn’t it matter?

Appreciate your help. Sara


2 Nancy November 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm

I try to include chia seeds in as many dishes as I can since they’re such a powerhouse of nutrition. I found that if I used them dry in my smoothies that it seemed to make it thicker. I will add them dry to soups, stews, and salads (sometimes if I want a little crunch). If I add the dry seeds to muffins or breads, I may add a little extra liquid. Primarily, I will hydrate them before I use them. I put a few tablespoons of seeds in a jar with a lid, add about a cup of water and stir, stir, stir over a couple minutes. You will end up with a gel that is almost tasteless and will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. These hydrated seeds work well in just about anything, without changing the taste or texture.


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