Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia! Furry chia hair pets are what usually come to mind when we hear the word “chia,” and yes, if you let this seed grow it will eventually make your pet — but did you know that eating them will provide you with a rich dose of fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants? A member of the mint family, this little seed is known as a super food because of its dense nutrient profile. Here is a quick guide to what nutrients are found in the chia seed:
- Fiber: Just 2 tablespoons will provide men with 29% of their daily recommended intake and 44% for women. Specifically, the chia seed is high in insoluble fiber. Fiber is important to help keep bowel movements regular and reduce constipation. Additionally, insoluble fiber has been linked with reduced risk of diabetes.
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids: Known as essential fatty acids, our bodies are unable to produce these acids so it’s essential that we get these nutrients from our diet. Omega-3s and 6s play an important role in cell structure. Recent research is starting to look at the potential benefits of the fatty acids in chia seeds and a link with improved blood pressure, heart health, and blood sugar regulation.
- Iron, Calcium, and Magnesium: Two tablespoon can provide 27% of your daily iron needs, as well as 18% calcium, and 24% magnesium. Iron is important for the health of our red blood cells. Calcium is important for bone, nerve, and muscle health. Magnesium plays many roles in the body, including DNA and cell health, as well as, metabolism regulation.
- High in Protein: A plant base source of protein, the seed itself is 19% protein. Additionally, it’s gluten free, so it’s a great option for those with an intolerance to gluten.
So how do you prepare these little guys?
A unique feature of chia seeds is their ability to absorb water and form a gel – making them perfect for smoothies, pudding, and milkshakes. They can also be sprinkled over salads, fruits, oatmeal, or cereal. Recently, more and more recipes are popping up that replace fat with chia seeds. These recipes include pancakes, cookies, cereal bars, breads, baked goods and more!
Fun fact: “Chia” is the ancient Mayan word for strength.
Recipe: Banana Wild Blueberry Smoothie with Chia Seeds
- 1 tablespoon soaked chia seeds (1 teaspoon dry)
- 1 small banana (about 4 ounces without the skin)
- ½ cup frozen organic wild blueberries
- 1 cup milk of choice (almond, soy, or skim/2%)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- To soak the chia seeds, place in a jar or bowl and add 4 tablespoons water for every tablespoon of chia seeds. Place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. The seeds and water will be become gelatinous.
- Scoop up a tablespoon of seeds with the gooey liquid and place in a blender (don’t worry, your smoothie won’t have this consistency). Add the remaining ingredients and blend for 1 full minute at high-speed.
Adapted from: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1014742-banana-wild-blueberry-smoothie-with-chia-seeds