Top of the list for health benefits of chia seeds is their richness in omega-3 fatty acids. 30% of chia seed oil is omega-3 oil, while 10% is omega-6, making the perfect balance of essential fatty acids. In fact they are so bursting with them that the chia seeds stay fresh and can be stored almost indefinitely without going rancid.
Keep chia seeds in a dark-colored, well-sealed container
Chia seeds can be eaten raw as a dietary fiber and omega-3 supplement all in one. What a great survival food and no wonder they played such an important role in the basic rations of the ancient Aztec and Mayan people.
So number 1 is omega-3 fatty acids – the vital fats that protect against inflammation, being much of the problem in arthritis
and heart disease. Chia seeds actually contain more omega-3 than salmon.
But there are easily 9 other health benefits too
2. Chia seeds do not have to be ground for your body's system to receive the benefits of their nutrients and they are said to help reduce your blood pressure.
3. Chia seeds provide lots of fiber as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc. Molybdenum, in case you don't know, is a metallic element that is essential in trace amounts for human, animal and plant health. In humans and animals, it serves mainly as an essential component of enzymes and aids in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. We need very small amounts so chia seeds would make the perfect source.
4. Another advantage is that when added to water and allowed to sit for thirty minutes, chia forms a gel. The soaked seeds are gelatinous in texture and are used in soups, porridges and puddings but this same reaction also takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar.
5. Watching your weight? Chia seeds help dieters by making them feel fuller faster so they will be less hungry, thus reducing food cravings by preventing some of the food that you eat from getting absorbed into your system – a blockage of calorie absorption.
6. Chia seeds are a great idea for athletes with their hydrophilic properties – they can hold ten times their weight in water making them a special enhancer in hydrating bodies.
7. Scientists believe that the chia seed may have great benefits for diabetics because, as they slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars, they can control blood sugar.
8. Even our own food sources can benefit from chia seeds as research has shown that adding them to chicken feed makes for eggs rich in omega-3s while enriching poultry meat with omega-3s too. Cattle fed with chia seeds enriches milk with omega-3s.
9. Chia can also be added to more natural and even organically prepared infant formulas, baby foods, baked goods, nutrition bars, yogurt and other foods.
10. Insects don't like the chia plant so it is easier to find organically grown varieties - you can expect to find ready sources of chia seeds that are organic, raw, non-GMO, non-irradiated and produced in the wild without pesticides, online and from health food stores.
The chia comes from the desert plant - Salvia hispanica
- a member of the mint family that grows abundantly in southern Mexico. It was a major crop in central Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C and was even cultivated well into the 16th century but, after centuries of neglect, commercial production has now been resumed.
How to serve chia seeds?
Easy to buy, easy to use and full of great health benefits.
- With its nut like flavor, you can mix seeds in water and add lime or lemon juice and sugar to make a drink known in Mexico and Central America as "chia fresca."
- Sprinkle whole chia seeds (or ground if preferred) on cereal or oatmeal, in yogurt or with sliced fruit. For example, add chia seeds to chopped walnuts and thinly sliced unpeeled apples before topping with some yogurt.
- Eat chia seeds on their own as an anytime snack or add them to your daily smoothie.
- Liberally add to any kind of cake, quick bread, pancake or waffle batter the way you would add wheat germ or rice bran. Start with adding two tablespoons of chia seeds to any recipe calling for at least one cup of flour.
- Sprinkle on salads with spirulina, add to pasta sauces or garnish steamed vegetables.
- Add chia seeds to a supper dish by layering sliced potatoes and carrots and baking until brown - about twenty minutes at 325 degrees F. Chia seeds can be added to any casserole or grain dish.
- Whip up a dip of silken tofu with chia seeds, basil and a dash of cayenne pepper and dunk pieces of cut, raw vegetables for a delicious snack.