Pomegranates. Acai Berries. Noni Juice. Are these foods good for you? Absolutely. But, to me, they are fad foods… foods that become incredibly popular and buzz words for selling more stuff at Whole Foods. Chia Seeds are totally the new “it” health food trend, right now. Normally, those fad foods rub me the wrong way- even though they may be GREAT for you. I hate supporting trendy foods… it just encourages ad execs. But, I am all about easy… especially when it comes to taking care of myself. And when you can add a superfood seamlessly, getting all the benefits, without altering the taste, then I am ALL about it.
Coralie was the one who first introduced me to Chia Seeds after she had heard that they were a superfood… from Dr. Oz, I think. So, what are they? Chances are most of you know about Chia seeds from the popular novelty item Chia Pets. But, did you know that Chia seeds have been a superfood for a reeeeeeeaaaaallly long time? The ancient Mayans and Aztecs used the chia seed as a staple of their diet. In fact, the word “chia” is derived from the Mayan word for “strength.”
So, what’s the deal with them? They are packed with fiber (5 grams/teaspoon), have more antioxidents than blueberries, are anti-inflammatories, are loaded with Omega-3’s, and are basically tasteless. Chia seeds are hydrophilic- meaning that, once ingested (or submerged in liquid over time), the seeds expand and swell, absorbing the liquid and creating a gel type substance which has been purported to keep you fuller longer and sustain hydration. You can add them to almost everything- sweet or savory- and they can even be used as a substitute for eggs in cooking! Visually, they are black and white seeds that are slightly larger than a poppy seed.
Their benefits multiply when milled, but ain’t nobody got time for that (around here, at least). So, what do you actually DO with them? Coralie uses them for smoothies, but I am not a huge smoothie gal (I think it has to do with my aversion to cleaning the blender). I sprinkle about a tablespoon of them on my salads for a crunchy topping; texture is just as big a deal to me as taste in a lot of foods. But, I also put it in my breakfast couscous. They are so innocuous that they can go anywhere, really. And, just like the awesome green bean recipe I shared on Monday, even Jojo will eat them… which is amazing.
A note: if you have food allergies (especially to mustard seeds) then you may want to avoid them. Additionally, if you are on blood thinners, an aspirin regimen, or blood pressure medicine, you may want to talk to your doctor as studies have shown that chia seeds have been shown to lower blood pressure in older people. It also has a large amount of vitamin B, which should be noted if you are taking vitamin B supplements. Also, and file this under the funny/not funny category, Chia seeds are a member of the Salvia family which some of the kids these days are using to get high in its plant form. But, it is important to note that if you eat a TON of chia seeds, there is a potential for addiction. But, you are going to have to eat a TON… and frequently. And when you buy them, make sure they come from a reputable source… there has been some static about chia seeds from China that were tainted.
But, they are starting to pop up everywhere. For instance, I got mine at Trader Joes. And, like I said… if I can do something good for my body with minimal effort, then I am downtown there. So, whether they interest you after this, or not, at least you are now an educated consumer and will know what all the fuss is about when you see them in everything. Thus concluded Chia Seeds: 101!