Although they’ve been a staple in the diet of South American natives for several millennia, chia seeds have only really gained popularity in the Western world in recent years. Chia seeds are an annual herb that grows primarily in Mexico and Latin America. A member of the mint family, chia seeds can be eaten whole, ground or as sprouts. They can be grown beyond the sprouting stage in containers or in areas that receive full sun and have a sandy loam and will grow to approximately three feet in height. The small blue flowers bloom in mid-summer in tiny clusters.
Ironically, their presence in North America has been, until recently, more as a means of growing decorative pottery plants than as a healthy Super-food. Chia pets are novelty items often sold in grocery and drug stores as well as other outlets, primarily during the Christmas holidays. Over the years, many cartoon characters have made an appearance as a Chia pets, including Scooby Doo, President Obama and several Looney Toon animations. A real bargain, Chia seeds have multitudinous purposes.
Chia seeds are a natural treatment for Type-2 diabetes thanks to their innate ability to slow down digestion. Indeed, when exposed to liquid, they form a gelatinous coat that stops your blood sugar from spiking. An ideal use is in an early full breakfast such as oatmeal or Scottish-style porridge.
Particularly high in fiber, eaten in company with your favorite cereal or buried in a peanut butter sandwich, they are a very gentle means of enhancing your general digestive health without giving you ‘the runs’ and forcing you to alter your schedule so that you’re always in the vicinity of a bathroom facility. It is also a natural remedy for constipation, which reduces inflammation and helps keep cholesterol low. A small amount – 28 grams of chia seeds per day – will provide you with one-third of the required daily intake of fiber for adults.
That bowl of oatmeal mentioned earlier accompanied by, say, 60 grams of teeny tiny Chia seeds will make you feel fuller for longer. By binding together in your stomach they form a sort of gelatinous mass once wet, expanding in your tummy in much the same way as rice cooks. Consequently, you feel fuller for longer. Additionally, this gelatinous mass secretes tryptophan, a natural appetite suppressant that is also heralded as a mood elevator and claimed to improve sleep patterns, deepening the quality of your REM.
Chia seeds are also flush with a high level of calcium, a true benefit vis-a-vis the health and strength of both your teeth and bones. Just one single serving of chia seeds will provide you with an impressive 18% of your recommended daily intake of calcium. You vegetarians, vegans or anyone allergic to eggs really ought to take notice! They are a perfect replacement for eggs in baking recipes, too. To create this replacement, simply mix a tablespoon of chia with three tablespoons of water and let it sit for fifteen minutes until it takes a gelatinous form. Voila!
Gluten free, chia seeds provide the texture and benefits of grains yet are completely gluten free! Chia seeds contain a high level of protein, yet none of the nasty cholesterol. Obviously, protein is a dietary priority for most of us because it helps your body build and maintain tissue and create new cells – all of which are important for they body to perform ordinary functions. A single serving of chia seeds contains at least 10% of your daily protein requirements, which is an impressive food alternative to meat.
High in antioxidants, chia seeds help prevent cancer and heart disease. They also keep your skin looking elastic, young and healthy. According to the Washington Times, a dietary expert at Pennsylvania State University found that a high antioxidant intake makes the body 40% less likely to develop pancreatic cancer and massively reduces the risk of heart attack by 29%. Beyond lessening heart attack rates, chia seeds also keep your heart healthy because they’re a Super-food that lowers your blood pressure, because of their high level of antioxidants.
Last, but not least, the omega-3 fatty acid in chia seeds assist in the function and general wellbeing of your brain. In addition, they act as an anti-inflammatory and, it is claimed, help to combat depression, diabetes, obesity and arthritis. People with pre-existing heart conditions may well find chia seeds a useful diet additive, but are urged to consult with their physicians first.