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Monday, December 3, 2012

Mama Mia, lovely Chia

by Francine

photo via
Hailed as a superfood, and let's not forget those infamous chia pets from several years back, chia seeds are attributed with all kinds of health benefits, and they are so easy to use!

Let's start with the benefits:

Those tiny seeds are loaded with omega-3′s, antioxidants, fiber, calcium, protein and a number of other vitamins and minerals. One ounce (about 2 tablespoons) contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals. The seeds are said to help control blood sugar and reduce the risk of heart disease. Although scientific evidence lags behind in supporting these theories, keep in mind that this is often the case. Numerous studies need to be conducted before conclusive evidence is deemed sufficient to make a scientific/medical claim. But keep in mind that chia, an edible seed that comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, has been grown in Mexico dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures. "Chia" means strength, and folklore has it that these cultures used the tiny black and white seeds as an energy booster.

On, you'll see a quote by well-known TV physician Dr. Oz when he appeared on Oprah, "They [chia seeds] just may be one of the healthiest things around."

And from noted nutrition expert, Dr. Weil, "A healthful and interesting addition to my diet. My prediction? You will begin to see chia being added to more and more commercial products, such as prepared baby foods, nutrition bars, and baked goods."

From an article by WebMD columnist, Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD: "More study is needed before chia can be recommended either for weight loss and heart health," says Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD, chief editor of Natural Standard Research Collaboration. The article also cautions that if you have food allergies (especially to sesame or mustard seeds) or are on high blood pressure medications or blood thinners, you should consult with your physician before adding chia to your diet.

That said, although WebMD seems reluctant to endorse the weight loss claim, they do say "Enjoy chia seeds for their flavor and to boost the fiber, protein, calcium, antioxidants, and omega-3s in your diet."

Sprinkle on cereal, sauces, vegetables, rice dishes, or yogurt or mixed into drinks and baked goods. The thing is they virtually disappear and have very mild nutty flavor that virtually disappears when blended in with other foods. 

  • Eat raw for that nice "nutty" flavor.
  • Soak in fruit juice (in Mexico, they call this "chia fresca").
  • Add to porridges and puddings (while they cook or sprinkled on afterwards).
  • Include in baked goods--breads, cakes and biscuits.
  • Add to power drinks, be it a base of dairy, almond, or coconut milk. 
  • Sprinkle on your yogourt (or frozen yogourt!)

For more good ways to use chia seeds, check out this great resource:


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