5 Ways Chia Seeds Give You a Better Life

6/9/2015 - 11:19:37 AM

Modern western civilization has a problem: they go in for trends and tend to be swayed way to easily by the “latest” in food, clothes, health and wellness industry, added to the age old gullibility of financial gimmicks and we’re set up to spend millions of dollars on things that will fade back into the background in a few years. Everyone who has lived more than two decades has already gotten a good grasp on all the different fads and crazes that have come and gone replaced by the newest super-item.

  • Remember the South Beach diet?
  • Remember Atkins?
  • Remember cut-offs? (Oops, those have come back)
  • Remember never eating any fat?
  • Remember 80’s & 90’s hairstyles? 

Some things are better forgotten, but Chia seeds are not in that category. The downside to trends is once they’re over most of our world forgets about them and this is bad because things like Chia seeds and Brazil nuts are very good for us.

Where do Chia seeds come from?

The Runners Endurance

To begin with, Chia seeds come from the desert plant ‘Salvia hispanica’ which is part of a flowering plant of the mint family. From history we have the most record of them as a big part of the diets of native Central American and Mexican as the “running food.” They would mix the chia with water (Iskaite) and this combo would give them extra stamina, energy, and keep them hydrated longer than just water could. The Tarahumara people were most reknowned for their running ability. These cultures were necessarily “runners” since distance between different villages were often hundreds of miles apart and the runners would travel it over the span of a few days. Chia reportedly is what gave them the extra “edge” to make those grueling treks in amazing time.

Chia: The Food Staple

Chia was also a cash crop for the Aztecs and was harvested as a staple of the Aztec diet from as early as 3,500 B.C and was used as a raw material for medicines and nutritional compounds. They mixed them as food, mixed with other food, mixed in water, drank with beverages, ground into flour, included in medicine and pressed for oil. It could be stored for years, carried conveniently on long trips for high-energy food, and used for longer hydration.

Now that’s a superfood

When the Spanish conquered the southern New World they repressed anything of Aztec tradition or commercialization so for awhile it nearly died out. However in the last 30 years it’s come back more popular than ever due to a group of American and South American scientists, nutritionists and agriculturalists working to rediscover this “lost” plant.

Why did they bring it back?

Obviously all those nutritionists thought there was something there to benefit us, and the agriculturalists saw the potential in growing it as a crop. As far as crop-growing goes we know that supply-and-demand is a great business to be in if you see the next popular item, but aside from that they, and we, just want to make a great product available to help make people’s lives better.

1. Hydration

Chia seeds are covered in tiny, micro-fibers that stand on end and trap liquid when they become wet. This causes the seed to hold up to 9 times the weight of seed in water and causes a bead of gel to form around the seed. The water the seed “holds” isn’t easily removed so it takes the digestive process longer to break down the soluble fiber and absorb the liquid. This means your food stays hydrated longer and helps as a “sweeper” to keep food moving easily and in hot weather or intense exercise can keep you hydrated longer with better results.

2. Digestion

It’s hard for the digestive system to break down and get calories from soluble or insoluble fiber, but the beneficial bacteria living in your digestive system can. It is sometimes called a “pre-biotic” that feeds “probiotic” bacteria helping them to break down nutrients into forms you can use. The fiber that is in chia also helps to “sweep” your digestive system and keep it flowing smoothly so bile acid from the liver doesn’t reabsorb upping cholesterol levels.

Chia contains nearly 11 grams of fiber per ounce. Not so shabby, Chia.

3. Energy

Because chia seeds are so absorbent when soaked in liquid, (remember the gel?) the chia seeds that have gelled slow the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar which means any carbs you eat can fuel your body for a longer time than would happen otherwise, especially as this regulation of carbs also stabilizes blood sugar levels. However since chia seeds have almost zero carbs they won’t replace regular carb consumption for energy and you’ll still need to eat up on those carbs, it just means it makes the carbs you eat worth more, and you’ll be able to eat less of them with more sustained energy.

4. Ease inflammation

Last blog post was about cherries and their wonderful inflammation reduction properties, but chia is a close second in anti-inflammatory property with lots of Omega-3 essential fatty acids. With all the running in the ancient Aztecs world they often ate chia seeds to relieve knee pain, and in fact chia seeds can also relieve skin problems, promote brain health and have been shown to decrease symptoms of hypertension.

5. Chia superpowers

The word chia is derived from the old Mayan world for “strength” and as we mentioned was used heavily by runners to give them stamina and endurance for long runs. The reason for this is how Chia is packed up with super powers: Omega-3 essential fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, calcium, iron, potassium, vitamins A, B, E, and D.

Check this out for size: 2 TBSP of chia seeds have 10 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, more calcium than milk, more Omega-3s than salmon, more iron than spinach, and more antioxidants than blueberries.

Now that’s a superfood

With all that being said we’ve developed and borrowed a few recipes featuring Chia seeds. One is a gluten-free, lemon chia muffin mix available at Kauffman’s, and the other is something called “Chia Fresca” which is a wonderfully refreshing drink made of lemon or lime, water, chia seeds, and maple syrup or honey.

The muffins are pretty straightforward. Follow the instructions on the box and voilá, you have muffins. Available at any times online or in Kauffman’s market.

Chia Fresca

  • 2 c water
  • 2 TBSP chia seeds
  • juice of half a lemon or lime
  • honey or maple syrup to taste 

Combine everything into a glass or shaker bottle. Let the chia seeds soak for 20 minutes (or longer) shaking or stirring the mixture every now and then.

Good cold or room temperature.

The options for which to make this drink are endless. You can begin with tea, coconut milk, coconut water, green juice, fresh juices or whatever you think sounds good. It’s possible to add things like grapefruit juice, ginger, spices, alternative sweeteners, etc etc. This is a stellar drink to keep in the fridge during summertime to keep hydrated and energized. Try it and let us know what you think.

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