Hello Everyone! Welcome to the Healthy Food Series yet again!
Keeping up with the trend of being cognizant of the food products that we in-take and continuing to strive for a healthier lifestyle, here comes my effort of familiarizing you all (and me too) with the latest food trends and well-being fads! Oh yes, looking good and eating healthy never goes out of STYLE!
Today’s star food product is – CHIA SEEDS!
History – Chia was first used by the Aztecs as early as 3500 B.C. It was harvested in the Valley of Mexico between 2600 and 2000 B.C. and was one of the main components of the Aztec diet, used as – food, mixed with other foods, mixed in water and drunk as a beverage, ground into flour, included in medicines and pressed for oil. Additionally, chia flour could be stored for many years and could be easily carried on long trips, serving as a high-energy food while on the go.
When the Spanish invaded Mexico, and in an effort to break down the Aztec economy and culture, some of the foods that were a large part of native traditions – including products now heralded as “super-foods” such as chia and amaranth – were outlawed.
Today, thanks to the scientific confirmation about its nutritional value and the affirmation of its versatility by the cooks – Chia is coming back into popularity! The seed is commercially grown not only in its native Mexico and Central America, but also in Bolivia, Peru, Argentina, Ecuador, and as far away as Australia.
Nutrient Content – A 1 ounce (28 grams/about two tablespoons) serving of chia seeds contains –
Fiber: 11 grams
Protein: 4 grams
Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s)
Calcium: 18% of the RDA
Manganese: 30% of the RDA
Magnesium: 30% of the RDA
Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA
They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.
To top things off – Chia seeds are a “whole grain” food usually grown organically, are non-GMO and naturally free of gluten.
Health Benefits – Chia seeds are loaded with nutrients that can have important benefits for your body and brain. Here are a few effective – eminent health benefits of chia seeds –
1 Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants. These antioxidants speed up the skin’s repair systems and prevent further damage. Taking chia seeds can prevent premature skin ageing due to inflammation and free radical damage.
2 Chia is super-high in fiber, providing nearly 11 grams per ounce. One serving can provide the recommended fiber intake for the day, according to the American Dietetic Association. Being high in dietary fiber, chia seeds benefits bowel regularity and healthy stool. The rich fiber content in chia seeds also helps people feel more full quicker because it absorbs a considerable amount of water and immediately expands in the stomach when eaten.
3 Chia seeds’ ability to reverse inflammation, regulate cholesterol and lower blood pressure makes it extremely beneficial to consume for “heart health.”
4 Chia seeds are high in linoleic acid, a fatty acid that helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. For such a tiny seed, chia is quite high in healthy fats, boasting more omega-3s than salmon! The omega-3s work to protect the heart by lowering blood pressure, bad cholesterol and any inflammation.
5 Just one ounce of chia seeds has about 18 percent of the recommended daily amount of calcium. Calcium is fundamental in bone health and helps maintain bone strength and mass. Chia also contains boron, which is another essential nutrient for bone health which helps metabolize calcium, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus for healthy growth of bones and muscles.
How To Eat Chia Seeds – Though it won’t hurt to eat them straight, but if you soak them, then you “sprout” the chia seeds – which releases the “enzyme inhibitors” that are used to protect the seed. This entire process of soaking and sprouting the seeds – makes it much easier to digest the seeds and for our bodies to access the dense nutrients inside them.
Recipe – Though there is no distinct way to eat chia seeds, my personal favorite is a bowl-full of “Chia Seed Pudding!” (Recipe inspired from CookieandKate)
1 cup cashew milk, almond milk or light coconut milk
½ teaspoon orange zest, preferably from an organic orange
⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons chia seeds
Recommended toppings : drizzle of honey or maple syrup, sliced bananas, fresh or defrosted berries, shredded coconut, toasted chopped nuts, kiwis and strawberries!
1 In a small jar or bowl, combine the milk, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Taste, and if you’d like a more pronounced vanilla flavor, add another ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract. Be sure to measure out the extra vanilla extract rather than just pouring more in – it’s easy to go overboard.
2 Whisk in the chia seeds, cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or overnight), until the chia seeds have absorbed enough moisture to achieve a pudding-like state. If you think of it, give it a stir sometime along the way to break up any clumps of chia.
3 Before serving, stir once again to break up any clumps of chia seeds. Serve with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup on top and any additional toppings you might like. This pudding will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for about 5 days.
TO MAKE IT VEGAN : Drizzle maple syrup on top instead of honey.
TO MAKE IT NUT FREE : Use a nut-free milk, and don’t top with nuts.
Why You Should Try Chia Seeds – Chia seeds are among the few trendy “super-foods” that are actually worthy of that term. As per – “Don’t be fooled by the size – these tiny seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch!”
Here’s to clean living and a healthy lifestyle! Cheers!