Power up for anything with this super seed! While Chia seeds have gained popularity over the last decade, they are far from new. The Aztecs and Mayans used these seeds dating back to 3500 B.C. The word chia means “strength” and was thought to be more valuable than gold. It was also the inherent dietary staple of a tribe of super-runners in the Copper Canyons of Mexico known as the Tarahumara Indians, which you may know about from the book “Born to Run”.
What exactly is a chia seed? It’s a small black or white seed (no significant nutritional difference between the two) that’s not much bigger than a poppy seed. While it may be small, it certainly packs a punch when it comes to its nutritional content. It is one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3. In fact, one serving (2T), has five times the amount of omega-3 than a 1/4 c serving of walnuts. It contains as much calcium as a 1/2 c of milk, has 2 times the amount of iron and magnesium than one cup of spinach, has as much potassium as 1/3 of a banana and more than twice the fiber of a cup of oatmeal. It’s also loaded with protein, antioxidants and tons of other vitamins and minerals. I include them in all pre and post workout recovery drinks.
It’s super powers for any athlete include:
Reduced inflammation and joint pain. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are known for their strong anti-inflammatory properties and studies show that omega-3 fats can also reduce joint pain, like arthritis.
Sustained energy. Chia seeds are extremely hydrophilic, meaning they can expand up to ten times their original size when soaked in water. They form a gel-like substance when soaked for at least 15 minutes. When the gel is produced, chia seeds will be able to fuel your body for longer periods of time because they slow the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar. The regulation of carbohydrate release also stabilizes blood sugar levels.
Prevents dehydration. Because of their awesome absorption capabilities stated above, chia seeds help regulate body fluid levels and retain electrolytes. These are two key elements important to staying hydrated.
Promotes weight loss. The high fiber density of chia seeds helps to keep you fuller for longer periods of time, thus reducing the overall caloric intake throughout the day. Studies also have shown that, in addition reducing body fat, they also help prevent high cholesterol and high triglycerides.
Speeds recovery. Chia seeds are a complete source of protein, meaning they have all eight essential amino acids required to regenerate our cells and tissue. They are also loaded with antioxidants to fight against free radicals that weaken our immune system.
Chia Seed Pudding
1 1/4 c- 1 1/2 c unsweetened almond milk
1/4 c chia seeds
1 T maple syrup or 5 drops stevia
1-2 dashes of cinnamon
1-3 drops vanilla or coconut extract (optional)
Mix all ingredients together and let sit 1-2 hours. Best when chilled. This will be one of the most delectable desserts you’ve ever eaten! **fun tip**Chia seeds can be used to replace eggs in any recipe. Combine 1T chia to 3 parts water = 1 egg, let sit until gel forms and wahla!