If you were alive during the 80’s in the US and you owned a TV, then you know about the hugely popular Chia Pet. Chia seeds were placed in a container that was molded into popular shapes such as animals and famous people. As the seeds spouted they grew out of the container and looked like “hair”.
Well if you thought that Chia’s only use was as a kooky item made for TV then you would be wrong. There are numerous health benefits to eating the Chia seeds that will continue to have your vegan body energized long after you are finally able to get that jingle out of your head!
What is Chia?
Salvia hispanica, commonly known as chia, is a species of flowering plant from the mint family, native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. History shows that it was a very important part of the Aztec diet.
Chia seeds are about 1 mm in diameter and are usually a brown/gray, black or white in color. When added to water Chia forms a gel-like consistency that can be drunk on its own; it can also be used in many recipes: to thicken up smoothies, as a topping for cereal/yogurt, and is a popular addition to energy bars.
A nutrition powerhouse
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends Chia seeds as an excellent source of omega-three fatty acids (there are nearly 5,000 milligrams per ounce). They are also an excellent source of fiber at around ten grams per two tablespoons and contain protein and many minerals including: iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
Here’s my guide to the many nutritional benefits of the Chia seeds:
High in Fiber: just two tablespoons of Chia provides around ten grams of fiber which equals about a third of the recommended daily intake for adults. A high fiber diet helps you maintain bowel health – yes we must talk about it!! This is important for helping your body get rid of toxins and anything that it doesn’t need to function; also a diet high in fiber helps you to feel fuller longer helping you to achieve any weight loss/maintenance goals.
Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids: the Chia seeds contain eight times more Omega-3 fatty acids than salmon. Omega-3s help in building new cells and in regulating various processes in the body. In addition to boosting heart health by supporting the lowering of cholesterol and blood pressure, omegas are key to healthy glowing skin, hair and nails.
Bags of Calcium: Chia seeds contain 18% of your daily value per ounce, which is three times more than skim milk. Calcium helps aids in keep your teeth and bones strong.
Loaded with Zinc and Magnesium: one 28 gram serving of chia seeds contain around 30 percent of your recommended intake of maganesium, which aids in the absorption of calcium, helps relieve symptoms of menopause and PMS, and reduce the risk of premature labor. The Zinc actively supports the body’s immune system.
High iron levels: an essential mineral and an important component of the proteins involved in oxygen transport and metabolism. When iron is low, oxygen consumption slows down. Chia seeds contain three times more iron than spinach!!!
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the health benefits of this small wonder. Eat it raw, mix it with your favorite food, and even use it in baking as an egg substitute. The possibilities are endless!
Ready to try it for yourself ?
Try this easy and fun recipe for a home made vegan yogurt, based on Vegie Head’s Superfood Parfait:
In a bowl, mixed together:
Chopped strawberries and bananas (or other chopped fruits you enjoy)
Half a cup of Chia seeds
1 Cup of coconut milk
Half a cup of soy milk or almond milk
1 Table spoon agave syrup
Once mixed, leave in the refrigerator over night and in the morning serve and enjoy!
Cover image: Shutterstock. Modification: TVW.