Chia seeds maybe one of the hidden nutrition gems in the health and wellness industry. For those unfamiliar, chia is an edible, whole-grain seed that originates from Salvia hispanica, a historical Mexican plant that dates back to the 16th century. They are rich in protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and tons of fiber!
Here are a few fun facts about chia seeds and why you need to include them in your diet if you’re not already doing so:
1. Fiber: Chia seeds are very rich in fiber, packing a whopping 11 grams per ounce, which is about one-third of the daily recommended intake. Fiber, as we all know, aids in maintenance of the digestive system, elimination of toxic waste from the body and avoiding curbing food cravings because of their ability to keep you full faster. Basically they prevent you from overeating.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: By now many of us know the role healthy fats play in keeping our organs functioning at a high level. Omega-3 fatty acids is one of such healthy fats and they can be found in chia seeds as well. About 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids can be found in an ounce of chia seeds, more than the amount in a single salmon. Remember our bodies can’t manufacture omega-3 fatty acids so we must obtain them from outside sources.
3. Protein: One ounce of chia seeds is also packed with nearly 5 grams of protein, making it another great source of protein for exercisers and fitness enthusiasts. Protein, as we all know, is an essential macronutrient for the development of lean tissue and maintenance of muscle and bone.
4. Calcium & Joint Pain: Consumption of chia seeds has been linked to reduction of osteoporosis and arthritic conditions in some people. This is due to its moderately-high calcium content of about 20 percent of the daily recommended intake. Those who are lactose-intolerant or those looking for a dairy-free calcium source can look to chia seeds as an alternative.
5. The Best Type: You can pick up chia seeds in most supermarkets or via www.nuts.com, a great site for all types of healthy nuts and seeds. However I prefer Nature’s Intent Organic Chia Seeds. It is certified organic by the USDA and also gluten-free, making a staple for those with gluten sensitivity. Whole Foods and Costco have organic versions of chia seeds.
Chia seeds can be mixed with and sprinkled over cereals, oatmeal, beans, protein shakes and other beverages, cottage cheese, yogurt and pudding. They can also be used as an additive in baking snacks and foods or can simply be eaten raw.