Have you ever tried chia seeds? If you haven’t, this might be the best time to include them into your diet. They are so fun to use and require only a small effort on your side to prepare. Moreover, chia seeds mixed up with your favorite healthy juices might be the right combination to considerably improve your health.
Ever since my family members and I discovered Chia seeds online, we never stopped being amazed as to how cool they are. In this post we are going to talk about how to use chia seeds in your everyday diet plan. But, let us see first what chia seeds are and how they can help.
Chia seeds belong to the family with Latin name Salvia hispanica and are closely related to the common mint. This plant is native to South America. In Southern Mexico, they have been a part of their cuisine since centuries ago. They used to be so popular, that the Mayans, Incas, and Aztecs utilized them as a monetary means. They valued them for their ability to bring extra energy and stamina. In fact, in the language of the ancient Mayans chia means “strength”. It is said that only one tablespoon of chia seeds is enough to provide sustainable vital energy to our body for 24 hours.
At first, Chia seeds appeared to us as a new addition to the seemingly endless array of super foods. But when we tried them, we immediately fell in love with them. These black and white tiny seeds are marketed as having a range of beneficial properties, including weight loss, increased energy, blood sugar regulation, and improved health of the circulatory system. They are also thought to have strong antioxidant action. While we cannot really testify to these claims, we can say only say that we like their taste and texture, and that they feel like the right thing.
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What health benefits chia seeds bring
So why people think they are so valuable? First of all, because of their high levels of polysaturated fatty acids, read Omega 3. Second, they include ALL of the essential amino-acids, read proteins. So if you are vegetarian, or vegan, you won’t have to put up with your family members complaining that your diet doesn’t include all the necessary amino acids. Because as we all know, some of the amino acids are only found in animal food. Third, they are rich in essential micro nutrients, such as iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese, and zinc. In addition, they have a lot of vitamins, including A, D, E, K, and vitamins from the extended B group.
But if we had to choose one particular feature of Chia, it would be their ability to absorb water. When you start using them, you will observe this every day. By absorbing water they regulate the balance of electrolytes in the body. They are great for athletes and more importantly contain no gluten.
The gel produced when chia seeds are put in contact with water acts as a barrier between the digestive enzymes that break down complex carbs into sugar. That’s why it is thought that people who suffer from diabetes should take them before or during their meals.
We recommend not to cook or thermally treat your chia seeds. It would be a real shame if you had to cook them, because the best way to consume them is fresh and raw. You can put them in your favorite drink, for example, yogurt or milk. Before consuming, they should soak for at least 5 minutes. We let them stay for as long as 20 minutes, just to be sure that they are well hydrated. They can absorb 12 times as much water as their weight, whereby you can get a great gel for your fruit pudding.
10 grams of chia seeds (about 2 teaspoons) contains 4 grams of fiber, 1.5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fat. But more than half of that fat content is in a form of healthy Omega 3 fatty acid. This fact makes chia seeds more abundant in Omega 3 than salmon, if we count the percentage per gram. Chia seeds are also packed with calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. Two teaspoons also contain as many as 50 calories, which means that they are very nutritious in spite of their tiny size. One tablespoon delivers roughly about 70 calories. In general, 100 grams of chia seeds contain 486 calories.
You can easily purchase chia seeds online, and there is a great Amazon.com section with thousands of reviews of happy customers. Their shelf life is very long, about 5 years. However, when suitably stored, the shelf life of chia goes well beyond the date printed on the box.
We use relatively small amount of chia to prepare our juices, about 2 teaspoons, twice a day. The daily dosage recommendation is higher, about 40 grams (3-4 tablespoons) per day.
Drinks prepared with chia seeds
We had no problem incorporating chia seeds into our diet. Unlike some popular juice supplements, they are rather mild and we can add them to anything. Unlike flax seeds, they need not be grounded, which means that we spend virtually no time in preparation. Our favorite method is to soak them in our juices, but you can easily add them to your puddings, salads, yogurt, coconut milk, cereals, or fruit and vegetable dishes. Probably the easiest way is adding them to your blender with the other ingredients while making your favorite smoothie.
In fruit or vegetable juices, just stir 1 tablespoon chia seeds to a glass of juice, and let the juice sit for up to 10 minutes.
However you prepare them, our advice is to eat the uncooked. If you cook them, or even heat them, they will lose a lot of their nutritive value.
If you want to use them alone, soak them in water. In fact, you can put them in any kind of wet food and stir them to turn them gelatinous and mushy. Or just wait for something like 10 minutes until they absorb the fluid, and you are good to go.
If you put them in pureed fruits, you will get chia gelatin or jelly, depending on the added amount of seeds.
Here are some recipes for preparing delicious healthy drinks.
Mix 1.5 tablespoons of chia seeds with 8 oz of water. Add the juice of one lemon to the mix and half a teaspoon of honey.
Chia seed yogurt pudding
Chia pudding is a great snack. To prepare one serving of it, use one half cup of plain unsweetened low fat yogurt, one half cup of plain milk, two tablespoons of chia seeds, one pinch of cinnamon, and some Stevia sweetener. Mix everything and place the mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours. When finished, decorate with nuts, berries, and fresh fruits.
Chia Seed Herbal Tea
This is really easy and quick. We like preparing our herbal tea by using something like a teaspoon of chia seeds in a cup of tea. We prepare the brew as usual, put the seeds in, and stir. We let it sit for 5 minutes, stir again and … enjoy.
You can add them to any kind of herbal tea, whether sweet, spicy, or bitter. The barely discernible taste of chia seeds gets lost in the brew, if only the tea has somewhat more intricate aroma.
Using Chia Seeds In Green Smoothies
If you like green smoothies, a tablespoon of chia won’t change the flavor of the mix. We don’t like adding them directly, but rather we soak them in water for 10 minutes before blending. They will become jelly-like and stay whole until you consume them, which increases their nutritive value. Powdered chia seeds that some people prefer to put in their smoothies are also fine.
Kombucha Energy Drink with Chia Seeds
It is a great idea if you already prepare your own Kombucha drink. While you can buy Chia Seed Kombucha drinks, it is much better if you can prepare it for yourself. Kombucha is great drink on its own right, but you can increase its value by combining it with chia seeds. If you like the touch of the hydrated chia seeds, you will get a super-healthy energy-drink.
Take one cup of already prepared Kombucha. Prepare one tablespoon of chia and 8 parts of warm water on the side. Stir well, wait 10 minutes, and mix with the prepared Kombucha. Put in the fridge and wait a few hours.
Are there any precautions and side effects
Because they are high in fat, choose smaller servings of chia. Don’t worry. The small portion size will provide just enough of nutritious benefits.
Don’t overdo. If you eat larger quantities of chia seeds, because of their high fiber content, there may be some digestive and other unwanted health issues. In fact, some of the most common problems with chia seeds are gastrointestinal problems. If you go over the board, they may cause anything from constipation to diarrhea and bloating.
There are people who find the gelatinous texture of soaked chia unpleasant. In that case, you can hide them in other bulky foods, or eat them raw. However, please note that if eaten raw, they will combine with the saliva in your mouth and star taking on their gelatinous consistency.
If you can choose, always buy organically grown, food grade chia seeds. If you are worried about the price, take into account the fact that, given the serving size, they will last for a long time.
If your renal function is impaired, or have any kidney problems, consult with your physician about the right dosage of chia. Chia has high plant protein content which may cause problems with your kidneys if you take a lot of them.
Because chia seeds have high omega 3 levels, they effectively act as a blood thinner. Be cautious and consult with your doctor if you are already on prescription drugs for blood thinning. Too much blood thinners can cause bleeding.
Allergic reactions seem to be rare. The symptoms include skin inflammation, rashes, and diarrhea.
The bottom line is “Try them”. If you like them, great. If you don’t like them, no damage done. Start with smaller amounts, and gradually increase their use. Monitor your health, observe how your body feels. Chances are, you will be more than pleased and they will become permanent part of your daily diet.