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Chia Essentials

  • Chia: A Miracle Food in the Aztec Empire and the Modern World

    Health food stores are flooded with seeds, seasonings and supplements that promise some amazing benefits, but there is one incredible seed that has remained largely under the radar in modern times, despite centuries of cultivation. That seed, of course, is chia. Chia boasts numerous health benefits, and has been promoted by health experts like Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Mehmet Oz, but what exactly is chia and where does it come from? This history of this miracle food is just as remarkable as its benefits.

    By most estimations, chia consumption is believed to date back to approximately 3,500 B.C. The chia seed comes from the desert plant Salvia hispanica, which belongs to the mint family. The plant grows most abundantly in southern Mexico, and was an everyday part of the Aztec and Mayan diets more than 5,000 years ago. Evidence suggests that between 1,500 and 900 B.C., chia was even an important cash crop in the Aztec empire.

    During their golden age, chia seeds were used and consumed in a myriad of different ways. They could be enjoyed by themselves, mixed with other grains, mixed with water to create beverages, ground into flour, incorporated into various medicines, and pressed into a liquid base for face and body paints. Chia seeds were even traded as currency and presented to the gods during important religious ceremonies.

    The ancient Aztecs actually consumed four essential grains on a daily basis: maize (corn), beans, amaranth, and of course, chia. Incidentally, the combination of these four grains satisfies the current Food and Agriculture Organization-World Health Organization (FAO-WHO) guidelines for healthy eating. Clearly the Aztecs were ahead of their time.

    These seeds were not only consumed for everyday sustenance. They were even essential to Aztec warriors, who could sustain themselves for 24 hours on a single tablespoon. Even the Aztecs' enemies saw how vital and important these seeds were to the culture, health and religion of early Mexico, and the Spanish sought to do something about it.

    When the Spanish conquistadors invaded Latin America, they quickly outlawed the cultivation of chia. Hernando Cortez, who led the invasion, sought to subjugate the Aztecs, and believed that the suppression of chia would serve as a huge blow to the Mesoamericans. The Aztecs, after all, believed that chia had religious significance, supplying them with almost supernatural power. The Spaniards succeeded in eliminating chia from daily life, and it soon became an obscure and almost forgotten crop.

    In recent years, chia has made an incredible comeback, as many scientists have come to the conclusion that the diet of these early Americans was far superior to the typical American diet today. Chia has become popular not only in the United States for its nutrients, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, but it has made an impressive comeback in Mexico as well. It remains a traditional food of the Tarahumara and Chumash peoples of Chiuahua.

    Vitalyte's Chia Surge is a revolutionary new energy gel for runners and athletes looking for a healthier, more natural boost during grueling challenges.

  • Consuming Chia Seeds for Weight Loss

    Chia comes from the Mayan word for “strength,” and the Mayans certainly knew what they were talking about. Chia seeds were a staple crop of the Aztec and Mayan empires more than 5,000 years ago, and scientists today are starting to uncover just how many amazing nutritional benefits these tasty seeds have. Chia is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, calcium, electrolytes, antioxidants, vitamins and even protein. Plus, chia seeds’ calories will hardly make a dent in your daily caloric intake. Few superfoods offer so many benefits.

    Regardless of your individual health goals, chia can make an excellent addition to your diet. The nutrients can promote overall nutrition, the protein can aid in physical fitness and improve your recovery time, and research shows that chia consumption may even offer certain benefits to individuals trying to lose weight.

    If you’re trying or struggling to lose a few pounds or even a substantial amount of weight, you may want to consider adding chia seeds to your healthy diet. It is believed that ancient Aztec warriors devoured chia seeds because of the energy and endurance they provide, and that same energy boost can give you the stamina you need to get the most from your exercise routine.

    Chia seeds can also aid your weight loss efforts for other reasons. For instance, there are a number of foods, energy drinks and supplements on the market that promise to raise your energy level, but very few of them have as few calories as chia, and even fewer provide the same essential nutrients. Chia gel can naturally improve your energy level and get your heart pumping without filling your body with empty calories. The benefits are astounding.

    Furthermore, chia absorbs up to 12 times its own weight, so it can work wonders if you have an overactive appetite. Even just an ounce of chia can reduce your caloric intake and help lower the energy density of the foods you eat, in addition to doubling the amount of fiber you receive, according to the Dr. Oz blog. In fact, just once ounce of chia contains more than 40 percent of your daily fiber recommendation, and fiber is the ideal nutrient for satisfying hunger.

    Any weight loss effort is difficult, and should include a combination of daily exercise and good nutrition. While chia is not a weight loss supplement, it does contain enough beneficial nutrients to help you meet your health and weight loss goals. Even small amounts of chia can go a long way in promoting good health, so try incorporating it into your lifestyle today.

  • Chia Seeds FAQs

    What is Chia?

    Chia is an edible seed that comes from the Salvia hispanica plant, which commonly grows in southern Mexico. Anthropological evidence shows that chia seeds were a staple crop of the Aztec and Mayan empires as long ago as 3500 B.C. The Spanish conquistadors outlawed the cultivation of chia due to its connection to Aztec religion, and the grain faded into obscurity. In recent years, chia has enjoyed a popular resurgence as scientists have discovered amazing health benefits associated with it.

    What are the Chia Seeds Nutrition Facts?

    Chia is one of the ultimate superfoods. A single ounce of chia contains 42 percent of your daily recommended fiber, and more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. It also contains very healthy doses of electrolytes, antioxidants, and even protein. In fact, chia is a complete protein source, containing all of the essential amino acids, and it contains 3 times more calcium than skim milk.

    What are the Benefits of Chia Seeds?

    Thanks to its myriad nutrients, chia offers a wide variety of health benefits. Chia consumption can help you to meet many of your daily nutrient requirements, and the fiber can help you to keep your appetite under control. The ancient Aztec warriors consumed chia for the energy and endurance that it provides, and you can experience the same energy boost by consuming chia seeds yourself. The ample calcium can help prevent bone disorders like osteoporosis. Chia also promotes heart health and beautiful skin, hair and nails.

    How Do I Consume Chia Seeds?

    You have many options when it comes to chia. You can eat the seeds by themselves or add them to your food or drink, and still derive all of the nutritional benefits. There are chia seed foods, chia seed drinks, chia seed oils and even chia seed bars. Other superfoods, like flax seeds, must be ground up, but chia seeds are beneficial no matter how you consume them. You can even consume chia as a gel, which offers many benefits of its own. Researchers have also found that chia seeds gel has the ability to slow the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugar. Vitalyte's Chia Surge energy gel is a great example of an effective use of chia.

    What are the Benefits of Chia Seeds vs. Flax Seeds?

    Flax seeds are very nutritious as well, but they do not hold a candle to chia seeds. For instance, flax seeds must be ground up in order for their nutrients to be digestible.  By contrast, you do not need to grind up chia seeds in order to obtain the nutritional benefits. Also, chia has much higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants than flax does, and is more nutrient-dense.

    What are Chia Seeds' Side Effects?

    Chia has many nutritional benefits and very few side effects. If you are taking blood thinners, you may want to speak with your doctor before adding chia to your diet, simply because omega-3 fatty acids can thin the blood. Also, the high fiber content may leave some people feeling slightly bloated. You will find though, that the benefits far outweigh the side effects.

  • Chia Surge Gel Beats the New York Marathon

    Ten years ago I ran the New York Marathon.  Because I was in the elite field, my own personal water bottles were placed on a special table at every 5k mark of the race.  There were 20 bottles on the table.  Each bottle belonging to an athlete.  It was customary the day before the race to gather in the elite athlete hospitality suite for a version of World Class Athletes Arts and Crafts 101.  The coordinator of the marathon would bring into the suite a huge plastic box filled with markers, colored tape, ribbons, pipe cleaners and all the other goods you would find in a kindergarten classroom.

    The top marathoners in the world when then gather around and decorate their water bottles.  Not only was it a fun break from the media tension and pre-race nerves, but it served afunctional purpose by making it easier for each runner to identify their uniquely designed bottle the following day when they would be blazing by the water table at 5:35-5:45 mile pace.  I don’t know what each person put in their bottle...some electrolyte solution perhaps or even the old standby that legendary marathoner Grete Waitz used, defizzed Coke.  I knew I would need more calories than sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium mixed with sugar could offer.  Don’t get me wrong, my body would desperately need the firing power of the electrolytes but what would get me through the 26.2 would be fuel.  So I wrapped several chewable candies in tinfoil and taped them to the side of my bottle that was draped in bows and blue and black tape (to match the colors of my racing attire of course).

    Everyone wondered what in the heck was in the tiny packages.  At each five kilometer mark, I would down my drink and then unwrap my candy and chomp away as I whizzed through the five boroughs.  I wound up finishing 9th overall.  Not so bad.  This time I avoided an IV, unlike the year before.  My little concoction worked quite well.  Everyone wondered why I didn’t just take one of the gels offered along the course.  My stomach would not let me.  The hard to digest, prepackaged gut killers did not like me and vice versa.

    It wasn’t until a few months ago when the CEO of Vitalyte tossed me one of those oh-so-recognizable gel packs.  “Oh no I said.  We aren’t friends, gel and I.”  “This is different,” he said.  “Try it on your next run and let me know.”  Reluctantly I tucked the pink gel pack in my shorts the next morning and headed out for a run.  “I promised him I would try it,” I reluctantly told myself, as my stomach braced itself for the onslaught.  First of all I noticed the taste of the Chia Surge Gel was different than any other gel product I had tried.  It was lighter.  Well the real test would be my stomach.  I continued running and to my surprise and delight, I felt great.  No gurgling or sloshing or nausea.  In fact I felt really good.  I had more energy.  “I think this Chia Surge has got it going on,” I said to myself.  When Evan asked me the next day how I liked it, I told him how surprised I was.  I mean we all knew that chia seeds were the superfood of the century and had amazing nutritional benefit.  But that paired with the other amazing ingredients in Chia Surge Endurance Gel!  Wow, all I could say was, “Where was this ten years ago?”  So now my energy levels are awesome on my runs.  I take a Chia Surge half way through a 5-6 mile run and on a longer run that is between 10-12 miles, I take one at mile 3 and one at mile 7.  Who would’ve known how a little chia could go such a long way.

  • Nature's Secret: Chia Seeds

    Chia Seeds are tiny black and white seeds that used to be a staple food in Aztec and Mayan times. They are now experiencing a surge in popularity due to their wonderful health benefits.  I recently read up on them to find out what all this hype was about.  I found out they are tiny miracles of nutrition in a micro-seed!  Now every time I take a Chia Surge Gel made by Vitalyte, I think about how they’re benefitting my body and mind! Chia Seeds.

    Chia seeds are indeed a superfood!  Just to list a few of the comparisons, they have:

    • 2x the amount of protein of any grains
    • 3x the amount of antioxidants of blueberries
    • 5x more calcium than milk
    • 2x the amount of potassium in a banana
    • 3x the iron of spinach

    Chia seeds are also loaded with Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids and have trace amounts of boron, which is an essential mineral to help transfer calcium to the bones.  Now I don’t think I’d be able to eat ALL of that on a run!  So it’s pretty cool to be able to get all that nutrition at once from some little chia seeds in an Energy Gel! Actually, that is my favorite quality of CHIA Surge; it doesn’t upset my stomach or cause any gastro-intestinal distress!  Most anything eaten during exercise will give me stomach cramps, however Chia surge is absorbed so quickly that I don’t feel any stomach discomfort ever!!! It’s such a relief!  Just pure energy and high quality nutrition on the run.  I’m so happy to finally have such a wonderful solution for my running energy needs!

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