“Chi-Chi-Chi Chia.” I’m sure all of you remember the little clay figurines sprouting chia seeds to resemble hair or fur. Who would have thought years later the seeds of a good gag gift would be ingested to promote health and energy?
Remember: the seeds, not the pets. Do not eat your Chia Pets. Advocates, dietitians, athletes and many others are raving about this new “super-food.” The plant can sprout in a matter of days, but the real appeal is in their nutrition-filled seeds.
Chia seeds are a versatile and nutrient-rich source of food that come from the desert plant Salvia Hispania. Not only do they contain all the nutrients we need on a daily basis, they are a great source of energy and help assist in weight loss. There are several claims from the media surrounding the nutritional affects of the seeds. Chia is an excellent source of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, also known as the healthy stuff in fish, protein and antioxidants. Chia can help cut out cravings, balance blood sugar levels, and again, they contribute to weight loss.
“They are definitely making a quick transition to mainstream,” TODAY’S nutritionist and expert Jody Bauer explains.
These seeds are perfect for dieting. When you expose a seed to water, it creates a gel coating, increasing the size and weight. Although the size increases, there is nothing to fear, because the water gel has zero calories. This process will leave you feeling full for hours.
“They’re pretty much tasteless so you can’t go wrong,” Bauer says.
Although you can eat the seeds by themselves, Joy also suggests treating them as ground flaxseed, sprinkling a spoonful on yogurt or cottage cheese, or adding to smoothies, or pancake and muffin batters.
The gel that the chia seed produces is a great substitute for half the butter in most baked goods recipes and tastes the same. So for all of you bakers who cannot stand using all of that butter and oil, divide the amount you would typically use in half, and substitute with the chia gel, Bauer recommends.
The chia seeds help balance your blood sugar and will leave you with a constant and steady energy. And like flaxseeds, chia seeds are a great source of the plant-based type of omega-3 fats called ALA, Bauer explains.
“These fats help fight inflammation in your joints, arteries, and all over your body,” Bauer describes. “And chia seeds are ultra rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol, promote regularity and control blood sugars.”
The more you eat high-starchy foods and sweets, the more likely you are to find yourself with random slumps throughout the day.
But the seeds themselves can be found in health food stores like Whole Foods and Fresh Market. They are even making their way into more commercial stores like Wal-Mart, which sells the seeds online. You can also find chia seeds in energy bars, and Bauer says she has seen chia seeds in supermarkets, often added to items like crackers, chips and cereals.
Along with all of the great health and nutritional benefits, they are also extremely affordable. More than enough chia for one month costs less than a dollar a day. There is no need for diet pills or all of those other extra costly health and weight loss materials – all you need is a measuring spoon. You can use as much or as little as you want to achieve your own desired results with these safe and chemical free seeds.
Chia seeds are the perfect snack at a great cost that will get you all of the nutrients you need and help weight control.
Lauren DiCrecchio is a fifth-year student majoring in liberal studies with minors in journalism and Spanish. She can be reached at LD658004@wcupa.edu.