Remember those chia pets of the ‘80s? Well, these tiny sprouting seeds are making a comeback. But don’t grab your pruning sheers just yet. You won’t find them in the gardening section. They are with the groceries! These edible nutlike seeds are packed full of nutrients and other benefits!
Where did they come from?
Chia seeds originated in Mexico and Central America and were a staple of the typical Aztec and the Mayan diets. A Mayan word for “strength”, chia seeds were believed to increase stamina and sustain energy. People ate them ground up as flour or pressed for oil, drank them mixed with water, and used them medicinally for joint pain. They were banned in the 16th century by Spanish conquistadors because of their use for Aztec religious ceremonies, but don’t worry! You can find them at almost any supermarket today.
Feeling gloomy? Need something to sustain you through yoga class? Want to get more fiber or omega-3s? Reach for some chia seeds!
What’s so great about chia seeds?
- Fiber. Remember when we told you about the benefits of fiber in flax? Flax isn’t the only thing with lots of fiber. Chia seeds have 11 grams of fiber per one-ounce serving. That’s almost 50% of your daily-recommended intake!
- Tryptophan. Okay, so normally when we hear this we think of Thanksgiving and turkey and NAPS! But tryptophan doesn’t just help you sleep, it also regulates appetite and has been proven to boost moods.
- Calcium. One serving has 17% of your daily-recommended calcium intake.
- They regulate weight. Chia seeds absorb liquids and can expand up to 10 times in your stomach, making you feel full longer.
- Plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. With five grams per ounce, chia seeds have more omega-3 fatty acids than a serving of fish!
- Protein. One serving of chia seeds has 4.7g of protein. That’s almost as much as is in an egg!
- They keep your heart healthy. Studies have shown that chia seeds improve blood pressure and lower bad cholesterol.
How can I eat them?
- Jam. Yep, you heard me right. Chia seeds form a gel when mixed with water and allowed to sit. Bring a pot with 1 lb fresh berries, 2 T. maple syrup or sugar, 3 T. chia seeds, and a drop of vanilla extract to a boil. Mash the berries. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Put into a sealed glass container (I like to use mason jars for this) and let cool. Once cooled, store in the refrigerator.
- Sprinkle them onto your cereal or salad.
- Toss them in your smoothie.
- Mix them into your drink. In Mexico, you can order a “chia fresca” which is water, lemon juice, and sugar.
- Bake with them. Chia seeds can be easily added into baked goods like breads and muffins.
Did you know?
Chia seeds are packed full of antioxidants, which means they can last without refrigeration for two years!
Image via: @muckl_fitness