Let’s take a walk down memory lane back to 1983. A time when MC Hammer pants were in, hair was big and the shoulder pads were even bigger. But let’s not forget about the beginning of the animal-shaped terracotta figurines used to sprout “chia” to resemble the animals fur or hair. Little did we know at this time that these green “furry” little friends were packed full of beneficial nutrients, all contained in the black, brown and white speckled seeds.
Chia (Salvia hispanica L) has recently become popular again. In the past, chia seeds were an important staple food for Mesoamericans in pre-Columbian times, and have also been cultivated in Mexico for thousands of years. Now chia seed has been found to have high contents of linolenic acid, dietary fiber and protein. Linolenic acid, or Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids most commonly found in soybeans and canola oils, walnuts, flaxseed and in coldwater fish. Physiologically, omega-3 fatty acids have been found to reduce inflammation, may lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting and lower triglyceride levels, which may in turn reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer.
Chia seeds have also been found to contain polyphenols which give the seed antioxidant properties, along with containing calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, niacin and more. One of the most intriguing aspects to consumers is the fact that chia offers a good source of cholesterol-free complete protein providing both non-essential and essential proteins. In addition, 2 tablespoons of chia seed contains approximately 10 grams of dietary fiber.
These nutrient-dense seeds contain little to no flavor, unlike flaxseed, so they can be added to almost anything, and they do not have to be ground up to receive the beneficial nutrients. Cooking will not change the nutritional value, so the seeds can be added to soups and stews, or even sprinkled on top of salads, added to dipping sauces, salad dressings and can even be incorporated into baked goods.
To purchase this “super seed” check online or select stores near you. We found them in Pilgrims Market. All things considered, it may be beneficial for you to give your diet and health a boost of ch-ch-ch-chia!
- Aguirre, A., Borneo, R., Leon, A. (2010). Chia (Salvia hispanica L) gel can be used as egg or oil replacer in cake formulations. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 110, 946-950.