Why the tiny, ancient health food has become a modern dietary marvel
What do the heads of Homer Simpson, Tweety Bird and Scooby-Doo have in common? Aside from being animated, they’re also all common shapes of the Pottery that Grows. That’s right—though you may have thought that Chia Pets went the way of other 90s phenomena like pump up sneakers and Hammer pants, they’re back in the minds of many because of the valuable seeds that grow inside of them.
If you’re pursuing medical weight loss or alternative medicine to lose weight or get healthier in East Brunswick, following a nutritional diet can be a huge part of reaching your goals. Though you may know chia seeds best for their ability to grow out of oddly-shaped pots, they’ve also been called the world’s healthiest whole food. Health-conscious eaters all over the country are incorporating chia seeds into their diets for the many nutritional benefits they offer.
Checking Out Chia
These tiny, 2mm long seeds have been grown for centuries in South and Central America. A staple of the Aztec and Mayan diets, chia seeds were so prized that they were sometimes used as currency and an energy supplement for warriors marching into battle.
As it turns out, these ancient societies were onto something. Chia seeds have the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids of any plant and are also packed full of fiber, protein and antioxidants. These nutrients can have big benefits for heart and immune health, reducing inflammation and generally helping to cultivate a healthy and balanced body. For those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, chia is also 100 percent gluten free.
One study at the University of Toronto even showed that 37 grams of chia each day for 12 weeks lowered blood pressure, blood sugar and inflammation in Type 2 diabetics enough to significantly lower their risk of heart disease. Studies of long distance runners have shown that chia can provide a healthy alternative fuel source to sports drinks.
How to Try Chia
Like most seeds, chia can easily be munched in its raw, whole form. You can eat them as a snack, sprinkle them on salads or yogurt for some extra texture and nutrition or mix them up in smoothies, juices and nut butters.
Chia seeds don’t have much flavor beyond a gentle nuttiness, but have a great crunch that can add a lot to every bite. You can also use milled or ground chia seeds, or chia meal, as a substitute for wheat flour in a variety of baked goods, while oil made from chia seeds can be used in lieu of other culinary oils.
South of the border, chia seeds are often used to make a refreshing and popular beverage called chia fresca. Because chia seeds soak up liquid quickly, they can be added to water, coffee, iced tea, fruit juices and many other beverages, while letting them sit for 30 minutes or longer will cause chia to turn into a gel that can be eaten by the spoonful.
Though gaining popularity, chia is still something of a niche food in America and may not be readily available at your typical supermarket. However, the chia phenomenon has quickly spread to most health food stores. The prices at some of these specialty markets may be high, but chia’s many culinary uses and health benefits may be well worth it.
Have you tried chia? Tell us about it in the comments below.