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Raw Chia Seeds
Remember those popular little kitchen windowsill pets with green hair, and the catchy song that went with them? I never happened to end up with one, but would you be surprised if I told you that the seeds that grew that hair is one of the most powerful superfoods available? Nutty tasting chia seeds have the highest known level of essential omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid, more protein, energy and fiber than any other whole grain, and are an excellent source of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc. Chia seeds are loaded with antioxidants, they have among the highest antioxidant activity of any whole food–even more than fresh blueberries. They are safe for just about everyone to eat, as there are no known allergies to chia seeds. And they do good stuff for the body, like keeping blood pressure and blood sugar under control.
These tiny seeds contain a nutritional goldmine. Three ounces of Chia contain the same amount of omega-3 as 28 ounces of Atlantic salmon, as much calcium as 3 cups of milk, as much fiber as 1 cup of All-Bran cereal, as much iron as 5 cups of raw spinach, as much magnesium as 10 stalks of broccoli, as much vegetable protein as 1 cup of kidney beans, as much potassium as 1 banana, and as much vitamin C as seven oranges!
Chia seeds come from a plant relative of mint called salvia hispanica, and the Aztecs used to eat them. Apparently the seeds were known for increasing endurance--useful whether you're an Aztec warrior or a mom with five kids. In pre-Columbian times, chia seeds were a component of the Aztec and Mayan diets and the basic survival ration of Aztec warriors; they even played a role in religious ceremonies. Supposedly, 1 tablespoon of the seeds could sustain a person for 24 hours. According to Spanish manuscripts, the Aztecs ate the seeds of this semitropical plant to improve their endurance. They called chia their "running food" because messengers reportedly could run all day on just a handful. It was also used medicinally to relieve joint pain and skin conditions. The Aztecs prized chia more highly than gold. It was a major crop in central and southern Mexico well into the 16th century, but it was banned after the Spanish conquest because of its association with the Aztec "pagan" religion. Now, after half a millennium, chia is poised for a comeback in something other than a pottery animal and commercial production has resumed in Latin America. And here is more good news: Insects hate the chia plant, so it’s easy to find organic seeds.
A 2007 study of 20 diabetics showed some impressive health benefits. Patients who ate up to four teaspoons of chia seeds every day for three months reduced their blood clotting factors by 20 percent; reduced markers for inflammation by 30 percent; increased the levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids by 80 percent; and dropped six units in systolic blood pressure. It also reduced c-reactive protein (CRP) levels by 32 percent and lowered fibrinolytic (blood thickening) factors, which can trigger cardiovascular disease. The researchers may also look into a phenomenon reported by some study participants who had been lactose intolerant, but who on chia found they could again drink milk without side effects.
There is something else interesting about chia seeds --the seeds dissolve inside your stomach and intestine to form a smooth, soft, gel-like substance that helps your body digest carbohydrates more efficiently before the glucose enters your bloodstream. This means a slower blood glucose and insulin rise, leading to better glucose stability and energy. This makes chia a “low glycemic index” food. Studies show that diabetics, who especially need to control their blood sugar, really benefit from adding chia to their diet. The unique combination of nutrients, great taste, energy profile, and physical properties of the chia seed make this a true (and proven) winner for endurance, bone mass, heart health, gastrointestinal health, and general wellness.
Superior to just about every other seed and grain, chia seeds can be stored for several years without ever going rancid or losing their potency, they are easily digestible and do not need to be ground down before eating (unlike flax seed), and they can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Some people like to eat chia seeds straight as a healthy snack, while others like to mix chia seeds with different types of food and drink. Due to their very mild flavor, chia seeds can be added to just about any food without changing the taste at all. You can sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds on cereal, yogurt or salads; eat a handful of whole seeds as a snack; or grind them up and mix with flour when making muffins or other baked goods.
Adding just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to your daily diet will give you approximately 7 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of protein, 205 milligrams of calcium, a whole list of vitamins and minerals, and a whopping 5.2 grams of omega-3 and 1.7 grams of omega-6! Yes, I said grams, not milligrams! That is about 5 times more omega 3 than you get in most supplement capsules and 8 times more than you get from eating salmon. Plus, chia seeds are a great option for vegans and vegetarians who are lacking certain nutrients in their daily diet.
A simple way to use chia seeds is to make your own "chia fresca," a drink popular in Mexico and Central America. Stir 2 teaspoons of the seeds into 8 to 10 ounces of water (you’ll end up with a slightly gelatinous liquid). Add lime or lemon juice or some of our delicious flavor extracts and stevia to taste, and enjoy! A lot of people just add a spoonful or two to a juice or smoothie and drink it down. If you want to be more creative, you can add chia to most any recipe. It doesn’t affect the taste and can actually help as a binding agent. Please visit our website for more information or to purchase these power packed seeds. Check back soon as we will be adding some fun recipes and new ways to incorporate these little gems into your life soon!
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