The Chia plant is a flowering plant that is grown commercially in Guatemala and Southern Mexico, as well as in Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Nicaragua and in Australia. It is a member of them mint family, and there is evidence that the Aztecs grew the plants as a food crop for its seeds. The plant was as important to the people of that time as was maize as a crop for food, and the people that live in those regions today use the seeds as a food source and as a substance that is used in nutritious drinks.
The small, rounded, mottled Chia seeds are very nutritious and contain many nutrients and good mainstays for our diet. The seeds will soak up 12 times its weight in water when they are hydrated, to form a thick gelatinous mass after having been wet.The seeds are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps our heart, circulation and helps to fight the bad kind of cholesterol in our bodies. The seeds are also very rich in antioxidants, and they contain copious amounts of iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and are a great source of fiber.
The seeds themselves pack a powerful punch of tremendous nutrients that are good for us. One ounce of the seeds contains only 8 grams of fat, and only 138 calories. It has 12 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber. One ounce of the seeds produces 27% of our daily phosphorous needs, 18% of our daily calcium needs, 30% of our daily manganese needs along with a smaller percentages of copper, zinc and potassium.
The eating of plants have long been associated with naturally good health, and the consumption of Chia seeds would be at the top of the list in that category. Chia seeds are among the healthiest of the plants that we could possibly consume, as they most certainly aid in protecting us from obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol problems.
A big positive note about Chia seeds is the fiber properties that they have when they are eaten. When the seeds are hydrated, they absorb up to 12 times their weight in water, and they will swell into a gelatinous mass that is ideal for keeping our digestion process going strong. It is recommended that each day we have at least 38 grams of fiber each day of fiber for men, and 25 grams for women. Most adults do not even consume even half that amount in the United States.
As a result, we suffer from a variety of bowel and intestinal diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, diverticulitis, diverticulosis, cramping, constipation and other digestive disorders.Plant based foods are one of the easiest methods of getting more of the right kind of fiber into our diets. Such items as nuts, fruits, vegetables, unprocessed grains and seeds are among the best types of foods that work very well in the fiber categories. Just one ounce of Chia seeds gives nearly half the daily recommended amount of recommended fiber for women.
When the fecal matter in the colon does not vacate the intestines in a normal way and it lingers without being passed normally, it causes blockage and inflammation. Some of the toxins can even leak back into the system of the individual. When a high fiber diet is being constantly taken advantage of, the fecal matter is moved out of the colon on a timely basis, will reduce inflammation and pressure in that area, and the individual will usually not have any of the medical problems associated with that area of the body.
A high fiber diet also helps to promote weight loss because it gives the individual a sense of being full, so not so much food is consumed during a meal. Our American diet is just full of processed foods, heavy starches and huge amounts of sugar, largely in the form of corn oils and fructose. These ingredients tend to move more slowly through the digestive system while having little in the way of nutritional value.
The more quickly these materials are moved through the digestive system, the better because of their tendency to form a difficult mass to move. The type of fiber that is formed by the Chia seeds is called “Soft Fiber” which acts like a broom and just grabs everything with it as it moves along the digestive tract. It is non-abrasive as it is a soft mass that cleans the large intestine very well as it goes through.
Studies have shown that increased fiber consumption also helps to reduce the incident of cancer, heart attack. high blood pressure and cholesterol problems. The results have come back showing that increased fiber intake in our diets have lowered blood pressure and reduced the amount of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind of cholesterol) in the blood. Just 10 grams a day of increased fiber over a controlled period of time gave those results. The proper amount of dietary fiber has also been found to help in the regulation of the immune system and in helping to reduce inflammation, which is one of the major causes of heart attack and cancer.
Diabetes seems to be occurring in epidemic proportions in our society as we love to gorge ourselves on all the wrong kinds of foods. People do love their desserts of pies, cakes, ice cream, and the many sugary desserts that we all love. People are really not aware of the harm that consuming so much sugar does to our bodies. Our society tends to drink soft drinks in place of water, and they do not realize that only one can of a soft drink contains as much as 8 teaspoons of sugar. Sugar is very hard on our bodies, as it comes into our bodies and when it gets to the liver, the liver turns it into alcohol too much alcohol in the liver causes cirrhosis of the liver.
Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas which produces insulin, a hormone that regulates the amount of sugar in our bodies. The pancreas in diabetes will not produce not enough insulin, thus high sugar levels in the body occurs.
According to the National Institute of Medicine a diet that has at least 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories eaten gave a very significant reduction in the risk of the development of diabetes as well as coronary artery disease. Chia seeds have Omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to combat inflammation and heart disease.
Chia seeds are very high in their content of Omega-3 fatty acids, above that of kiwi seeds, Perilla, and flax seeds. From a nutrition standpoint, the Chia seeds are a real powerhouse in that category. Chia seeds are gluten free, which is a major factor in the diets of many people, as gluten can cause a severe allergic reaction in some people. Chia seeds contain a 20% content of Omega 3 ALA which makes them extra beneficial to the heart and to the brain. They have eight times more Omega 3 than salmon does.
The Chia seeds are extremely high in antioxidants, and as a comparison their antioxidant content is 4 times that of blueberries.There is five times the amount of calcium in Chia seeds that there is in milk. The seeds have seven times more vitamin C in them than what is found in oranges. There is three times the amount of iron in Chia seeds that what you will find in spinach. Bananas are rich in potassium, but Chia seeds have double the amount. Chia seeds are very healthy for the skin, hair and the nails. Glucose levels in the blood become more readily balanced when eating Chia seeds, making them good for diabetics to consume.
Chia seeds can be a very good replacement for eggs. If a recipe calls for eggs, just combine water to the seeds to form a gel, and add that to any recipe that calls for eggs. Chia seeds can be ground into a meal called “pinole” which can then be added to just about any type of dish. It can be added to drinks, as they do in Mexico, and the call it “Chia Fresca” which literally means “Fresh Chia.” They can be grown into sprouts, which can then be added to salads and as a topping for various vegetables and meats. The Chia seeds themselves are readily available at most health food stores as well as organic food stores and farmers markets.
A 16 ounce bag of the seeds only cost around $15 and will last quite a while. They don’t require a lot of work to be added to your diet, yet just from a nutrition standpoint alone, they are well worth including. One of the easiest ways to introduce them to your diet is to include them in drinks.
Since most of us really do not get enough fiber in our diets, this is a good way to add fiber in an almost effortless manner. Try a Chia Seed Super green drink. Use some coconut water, about 4 oz, 1 or 2 tablespoons of the chia seeds, and 1 teaspoon of super greens. Add all the ingredients, mix well and stir, and drink it down quickly before the seeds form their gel.
Let the gel form in your stomach and it will combat bloat and indigestion. The very versatile chia seed can be ground into a flour and added to any muffin mix. When you eat the muffins you won’t really taste the chia seeds, but you will reap the benefits of all of the health benefits. The fiber, the gluten free aspect, and the anti-oxidant and omega-3 benefits will still be there. Chia seeds can be the ingredient for a great pudding, due to its gelatin making capacity.
You can mix chia seeds, coconut milk and honey together in a small bowel and just let it sit in the refrigerator on an overnight basis. The mixture should have gotten thick because of the chia seeds having gelled. Place some mixed fruit such as peaches on top and enjoy. Of course when you utilize the chia seeds in this manner you are going to get the benefit of all the nutritious properties of the seeds. You can consume them in this way in little bites over time, and gradually be putting them into your system in small portions. Over a period of time you will be giving a great boost to your overall health and well being.