Hope your week is going well. I went to Whole Foods (love that store) on yesterday and ended up leaving with more than planned (as usual). I may need a 12-step program to break that cycle. Lol. One of the things that I purchased was Navitas Naturals Chia Seeds. I mentioned this to a family member which prompted some ???. So I figured I'd post some information on the benefits of this food.
Chia is familiar to most of us as a seed used for the novelty of the Chia Pet™, clay animals with sprouted Chia seeds covering their bodies. Little is known, however, of the seeds tremendous nutritional value and medicinal properties. For centuries this tiny little seed was used as a staple food by the Indians of the south west and Mexico. Known as the running food, its use as a high energy endurance food has been recorded as far back as the ancient Aztecs. It was said the Aztec warriors subsisted on the Chia seed during the conquests. The Indians of the south west would eat as little as a teaspoon full when going on a 24hr. forced march. Indians running from the Colorado River to the California coast to trade turquoise for seashells would only bring the Chia seed for their nourishment.
If you try missing a spoonful of Chia in a glass of water and leaving it for approximately 30 minutes or so, when you return the glass will appear to contain not seeds or water, but an almost solid gelatin. This gel-forming reaction is due to the soluble fiber in the Chia. Research believe this same gel-forming phenomenon takes place in the stomach when food containing these gummy fibers, known as mucilages, are eaten. The gel that is formed in the stomach creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, thus slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar.
In addition to the obvious benefits for diabetics, this slowing in the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar offers the ability for creating endurance. Carbohydrates are the fuel for energy in our bodies. Prolonging their conversion into sugar stabilizes metabolic changes, diminishing the surges of highs and lows creating a longer duration in their fueling effects.
As a source of protein, the Chia, after ingestion, is digested and absorbed very easily. This results in rapid transport to the tissue and utilization by the cells. This efficient assimilation makes the Chia very effective when rapid development of tissue takes place, primarily during growth periods if children and adolescents. Also for the growth and regeneration of tissue during pregnancy and lactation, and this would also include regeneration of muscle tissue for conditioning, athletes, weight lifters, etc.
Another unique quality of the Chia seed is its high oil content. It is the richest vegetable source for the essential omega-3 fatty acid. It has approximately three to ten times the oil concentrations of most grains and one and a half to two times the protein concentrations of other grains. These oils, unsaturated fatty acids, are the essential oils your body needs to help emulsify and absorb the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, & K. Chia seeds are rich in the unsaturated fatty acid, linoleic, which the body cannot manufacture. When there are rich amounts of linoleic acid sufficiently supplied to the body through diet, linoleic and arachidonic acids can be synthesized from linoleic acid.
Unsaturated fatty acids are important for respiration of vital organs and make it easier for oxygen to be transported by the blood stream to all cells, tissues, and organs. They also help maintain resilience and lubrication of all cells and combine with protein and cholesterol to form living membranes that hold the body cells together.
Unsaturated fatty acids are essential for normal glandular activity, especially of the adrenal glands and the thyroid gland. They nourish the skin cells and are essential for healthy mucus membranes and nerves. The unsaturated fatty acids function in the body by cooperating with vitamin D in making calcium available to the tissues, assisting in the assimilation of phosphorus, and stimulating the conversion of carotene into vitamin A. Fatty acids are related to normal functioning of the reproductive system. Chia sees contain beneficial long-chain triglycerides (LCT) in the right proportion to reduce cholesterol on arterial walls.
The Chia seed is also a rich source of calcium as it contains the important mineral boron, which acts as catalyst for the absorption and utilization of the calcium by the body.
Chia, as an ingredient, is a dieter’s dream food. There are limitless ways to incorporate the Chia seed into your diet. Chia must be prepared with pure water before using recipes. The seed will absorb 9 times its weight in water in less than 10 minutes and is very simple to prepare.
Making Chia Gel (9to1 ratio): Put water in a sealable plastic container and slowly pour seed into water while briskly mixing with a wire whisk. This process will avoid any clumping of the seed. Wait a couple of minutes, whisk again and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk again before using or storing in refrigerator (Gel will keep up to 2 weeks). You can add this mix to jams, jellies, hot or cold cereals, yogurts, mustard, catsup, tartar sauce, BBQ sauce, etc.. Add the gel, between 50% to 75% by volume, to any of the non-bake mentioned foods, mix well and taste. You will notice a very smooth texture with the integrity of the flavor intact. In addition to adding up to 50% to 75% more volume to the foods used, you have displaced calories and fat by incorporating an ingredient that is 90% water. Use as a fat replacer, for energy and endurance, or for added great taste, buy substituting the oil in your breads with Chia gel. Top your favorite bread dough before baking with Chia gel (for topping on baked goods, breads, cookies, pie crust, etc., reduce the water ration to 8 parts water to 1 part Chia seed) for added shelf life.
There are additional benefits from the Chia seed aside from the nutritive enhancements when used as an ingredient. It was also used by the Indians and missionaries as a poultice for gunshot wounds and other serious injuries. They would pack the wounds with Chia seeds to avoid infections and promote healing. If you place a seed or two in your eyes it will clean your eyes and will also help to clear up any infections. (Don’t think for one minute that I’ll be trying this any time soon. Lol.) There is a wealth of benefits beyond the information outlined in this article and treasure-trove of benefits yet to be discovered. Chia seed, having a qualitatively unique situational richness along with a profound nutritive profile is one of man’s most useful and beneficial foods and is destined to be the Ancient Food of the Future.
**Above information is from the Living and Raw Foods site**
Here are a few simple recipes that I found at Bjay's Blog:
CHIA LEMONADE AGUA FRESCA (fresh water)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup apple juice
2 tsp lemon juice
Place the seeds in the juice, and stir or shake. Let it sit for 30 minutes until it becomes the consistency of jelly. Add the lemon and ice if desired to make a slushy drink.
CHIA BERRY SMOOTHIE
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup apple juice
16 oz unsweetened frozen berries
Place seeds in the water, and stir or shake. Let soak for 30 minutes. Put the chia mixture and berries into a blender (or just mash with a fork) until it has a smooth consistency.
CHIA FRUIT SALAD
1-2 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup fruit juice
3 cups chopped fruit
Place seeds in the water, and stir or shake. Let soak for 30 minutes until it thickens. Toss chia mixture with fruit.