By Alyssa Adler
Chia seeds can be considered a super food because they are extremely versatile and nutritious! Originally from Central America, and derived from a plant in the mint family, chia seeds were an important part of the Aztec diet. Chia seeds are small black and brown seeds that look like a mix between a poppy seed and a flax seed. Interestingly, abundant amounts of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants can be found in just a tablespoon of chia seeds.
These seeds are unique because they absorb water to form a gel consistency. These gel-forming seeds contain tons of insoluble fiber, which help keep you regular and increase fullness. According to NIH, a tablespoon serving of chia seeds provides 19% of the daily-recommended fiber and up to 9% of daily calcium, iron and magnesium. Calcium and iron are important for bone health while magnesium is a contributor to many bodily reactions such as protein synthesis and muscle and nerve functions.
Chia seeds are also rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are beneficial for heart health, inflammation, blood pressure and blood sugar (NIH). Conversely, chia seeds can thin the blood if eaten on a regular basis, so it may have effects on certain medicines such as aspirin and Coumadin. In addition, chia seeds should be avoided prior to surgery to avoid any blood thinning complications.
Chia seeds can be found all year round at some grocery stores in the natural or organic sections. When in doubt, they can always be found online in small or large packages. Available milled or whole, chia seeds can be kept at room temperature for about 2 years. In order to increase the shelf life, put these seeds in a mason jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 years.
Chia seeds are used in many foods such as salads, soups, yogurt, beverages and baked goods. The absorbent properties of chia seeds create a smooth, desirable consistency while adding the beneficial nutrients to certain foods. A trending use of chia seeds is to make chia pudding. The chia seeds absorb the liquid and allow for a pudding-like consistency. Check out Cook for Your Life’s Chia pudding recipes! Chia seeds are an all-in-one super food, providing the ultimate texture with fullness, satisfaction, and nutrients!
Alyssa Adler is a Boston University Graduate from Long Island, New York. She was CFYL’s 2016 summer web intern after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Sciences with a concentration in Dietetics. She has since gone on to earn her Masters degree, and is now a Clinical Nutritionist at Mt. Sinai’s St. Luke’s hospital here in New York City. Alyssa has a food blog called Red Delicious and Nutritious which focuses on healthy eating and living and how decadent foods can be made wholesome and delicious. A woman after our own heart!