The amazing power of chia seeds

You may have heard of chia seeds—they are starting to appear as an ingredient in some breads and cereal bars, and internationally chia is becoming a big star. It is hailed as a new “superfood”, even better than acai. Today let’s look at chia to see if it’s really so good.

Actually, like many “superfoods”, chia was discovered a long time ago, but just recently was rediscovered and popularized. As a small black seed about 1mm diameter, chia comes from the flowering mint Salvia hispanica, which grows principally in Mexico, Central America, Argentina, Bolivia, and most recently grown commercially in Australia.

For thousands of years it was used by Aztecs and Mayans as a powerful nutrition source, and the word “chia” is related to the Mayan word for “strength”. They ground it into flour, and ate it raw for energy and stamina. Supposedly one tablespoon was enough to sustain an Aztec warrior for a day.

Yes, chia does seem to meet the definition of a superfood: it is loaded with great nutrition in a small amount of calories. We might think of it as “flaxseeds on steroids”. Even a small amount of chia is full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, calcium, anti-oxidants, and important minerals.

Chia is gluten-free, and unlike flaxseeds, chia does not have to be ground to liberate its nutrients (although there is some evidence that grinding chia might liberate more omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids). And unlike flax, chia seeds do not easily become rancid, and can last almost two years without refrigeration. Insects don’t seem to bother it, so chia rarely has any pesticide residue.

In only tablespoons (28 grams) of raw chia seeds you can receive:

11 grams of fiber (42% of your daily requirement)

4915 mg. of omega-3 fatty acids (and only .9 g saturated fat)

177 mg of calcium (18% of your daily requirement)

4.4 gm protein (nearly 10% of your daily requirement)

Chia seed are one of the most concentrated food sources of anti-oxidants, even more than blueberries, and are full of important minerals such as magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus, all critical for a healthy cardiovascular system.

They also expand in water, and many people claim (though scientific studies on this are lacking) that chia seeds give a strong feeling of satiety as they expand in the stomach, perhaps helping you lose weight. Chia also helps regulate your levels of insulin and “good” cholesterol.

Chia seeds are still imported into Brazil and into the United States, so are a bit expensive, but small amounts can yield lots of nutritional benefit. You can sprinkle chia on salads, stir into yogurt, mix with health shakes, add to breakfast cereals, breads and baked goods. You can experiment and add chia to most any food to boost its nutrition, or just eat raw and enjoy the mild nutty taste.

Yes, chia may well be a superfood. If you had to live on a desert island for a week with only one food, chia seeds would be a wise choice.

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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)