You have likely been hearing about the fantastic powers of the tiny chia seed lately. Dr. Oz told the world on Oprah that these amazing little seeds should be included in everyone's diet. The amazing nutritional properties of chia seeds were chronicled in the New York Times Best Seller “Born to Run” about the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico by Christopher McDougall. But what are these little seeds all about? Can they really help you achieve weight loss and better health? Here we have taken a closer look at chia seeds to determine if, and how, they can help you.
Chia seeds are part of the mint family from the plant salvia hispanica. They were first seen in Central America around 3500 BC. The chia seed was staple of the Aztec and Mayan diet and was so prized for its nutritional benefits that it was used a currency. After the Spanish invasion in 1500’s, chia was banned as crop because of its many ties to religious ceremonies. In the 1990s, the University of Arizona encouraged the re-domestication of chia seeds. Today, your chia seeds probably come from Central or South America, although Australia most likely will become the largest source of chia on the planet.
Nutritional Makeup of Chia Seeds
To discover why so many health professionals are calling chia a superfood, we have to first look at what's in a chia seed. Chia seeds contain the following nutrients:
• Omega-3 fatty acids • Antioxidants • Fiber • Calcium • Magnesium • Iron • Potassium • Niacin • Protein
Of course there are many “superfoods” on the market today that have high concentrations of these essential vitamins and minerals. What makes Chia even more of beneficial food product over flax or wheat germ is the manner in which the human body digests these little seeds. Chia will absorb up to ten times its weight in water our surrounding fluid. When you eat chia seeds, they absorb stomach fluid and then slowly breakdown over an extended period of time. This effect creates a time release capsule of sorts, slowly and methodically delivering vital nutrients to your body over time instead of all once.
It's easy to see that chia seeds can definitely result in some positive benefits in your body. Any food in its natural form that gives us that many vitamins and minerals is something we should consider adding into our diet. One question a lot of people have, however, is if chia seeds can affect good health without any negative side effects.
You won't get bored eating chia seed products. The unique makeup of these seeds has caught the attention of manufacturers everywhere and they are creating all kinds of chia seed products. If you don't care for sprinkling chia seeds on your food, you can incorporate them into your diet through bottled waters, pastas. squeezable gel pouches, peanut butters, nutrition bars and even pill form.
For those who are concerned about non-GMO and Kosher foods, it is important to note that most raw chia seeds are both non-GMO and Kosher. Always double check the labels to make sure, but the majority of manufacturers makes sure their seeds fall under these two categories. If this is a concern for you, it's another great reason to only shop from those manufacturers that you know you can trust.
Where to Buy Chia Seeds
Since chia seeds are big news right now, they are pretty easy to find. Your local grocery store more than likely has a selection of chia seeds and chia products. Health food stores also normally carry several different choices of chia seeds, supplements and other chia products. If you cannot find chia products near you, they are easily found online at places such as Swanson's and Amazon.