History and Legend

Legend has it that Mexican Aztec warriors often survived on tiny seeds called Chia. Tales also talk of Native Americans being able to run extremely long distances with just 1 teaspoon of Chia Seeds in their bellies.

Just fanciful stories?

In 1998, 52-year old, Mexican, Ciraldo Chicarito, won a 200 mile ultra-marathon, competing against many of the world’s best trained endurance athletes. He wore handmade sandals and had not trained extensively. He attributed much of his success to chia seeds. 6

Don’t be fooled by their tiny size. Chia Seeds pack a mighty punch!

Chia Seeds were so valuable to ancient Native American cultures that they were even used as a cash crop and paid as tribute to rulers in Central America between 1500 and 900 b.C. 1

Chia Seeds: What are they?

Chia Seeds are the seeds of the Salvia hispanica plant which is a type of mint plant in the Lamiaceae family. The plant is indigenous to Mexico and parts of South America.

Nutritional Content:

Gram for gram, Chia Seeds have 3 times the iron of spinach, 5 times the calcium of milk, 2 times the potassium of bananas, 2 times the protein of any other seed or grain, and 3 times the antioxidants of blueberries. 3

They contain 15 – 25% protein and are also rich in Magnesium, Fiber, Selenium, and Phosphorus. 3, 4

Perhaps one of their most incredible nutritional qualities is that they have more omega 3 fatty acids than any other plant source, and the ideal 3:1 balance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats. 3

According to Mike Adams, one of my favorite nutritionists, Chia Seeds are the ultimate survival food for long-term storage because they can easily be stored without refrigeration for 2 to 4 years. Unlike flax seeds, Chia does not go rancid quickly. Even ground, they have a shelf life of up to 2 years.2

Health Benefits of Chia Seeds:

Clinical research on Chia Seeds is just beginning, but the results so far are encouraging! Below is a list of benefits from traditional wisdom as well as anecdotal and scientific evidence.

  • Great for controlling diabetes as the carbohydrates in chia convert slowly to sugar due to their high fiber and mucilage content (the stuff that makes them gel when you soak them.) 4
  • People report that Chia Seeds help them feel full quickly and remain satisfied longer, making them a great addition to anyone’s diet who is trying to lose weight. Chia seeds can be a great way to keep snacking to a minimum.
  • Great for teeth and bones as they contain 5 times the calcium of milk. (631mg per 100g) 3
  • Support heart health because of their perfect balance of omega 3 and 6 fats and high fiber content. 4
  • Fantastic for pregnant women as the perfectly balanced omega 3 and 6 fatty acids helps brain development in the fetus. 6
  • Provides long lasting energy. 5
  • Boosts strength and endurance so is a great pre-workout food. 5, 6
  • High fiber content supports intestinal health. May improve symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
  • Helps the body stay hydrated due to it’s ability to absorb 10 times it’s weight in water
  • May help to relieve chronic fatigue due to magnesium content
  • May help prevent Alzheimer’s disease 6
  • Supports children’s health
  • Omega 3 fats like those found in Chia Seeds have also been shown to:
      • reduce inflammation
      • support the Immune System
      • support Reproductive Health
      • support health of the nervous system
      • reduce symptoms of Pre-menstral Syndrome (PMS).7

Soak Your Chia Seeds First!

It is my opinion that all of our nuts and seeds should be properly soaked to remove the phytic acid that may actually contribute to mineral loss when not neutralized through soaking. Soak Chia Seeds for a minimum of 10 minutes. I put my seeds into a bowl of water before going to bed and allow them to soak overnight. We recommend a 6:1 ratio of water to chia seeds.

Chia seeds are amazing because they can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water, so if you soak them before you go to bed, you’ll wake up and may be surprised to find a thick gel has formed. There are many ways to use this “gel.” See our top 10 uses below.

Chia seeds love to stick around. You’ve been warned.

Chia seeds are alive and sticky! If you are cleaning a bowl or cup that had chia seeds in it, make sure to rinse it well before washing with a sponge or you may find a mini garden of sprouted chia seeds in your sponge the next day!

Our top 10 Uses for Chia Seeds:

  1.  Ever tried Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding? This is an incredibly rich, satisfying and healthy snack or dessert. See our recipe: Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
  2. Make an energy boosting drink that will keep you satisfied for a long time. This is a great way to start your day or prepare for a workout. My current favorite is fresh coconut water, a squeeze of lime, and a couple large spoonfuls of Chia Seeds. If you don’t have access to coconut water, see our recipe for Chia Seed Lemonade.
  3. Simply add your soaked Chia Seed “gel” to your morning porridge for a more nutrient dense breakfast. For some inspiration, check out our morning Magical Morning Porridge.
  4. Also, try adding your “chia gel” to rice or quinoa with dinner. Chia seeds have such a neutral flavor that your children will never notice the taste, but you can take comfort in the fact that they will be getting powerful nutrients.
  5. Make a healthy raw vegan jam using Chia Seeds.  See the recipe for Clementine-Goji-Chia Jam in our Healthy Treats and Sweets Cookbook. Sign up for our email list in the side bar and receive a free copy!
  6. Stir them into your smoothie after everything else is blended, for a filling energy kick. The Chia Seeds will thicken up the smoothie considerably and give it a bit of a “gel” consistency. You can also blend them to break up the seeds if you prefer.
  7. If you have an egg allergy or prefer a vegan diet, you can use Chia Seeds as an egg substitute. Use 1 tablespoon of ground Chia Seeds plus 3 tablespoons of water to replace 1 egg.
  8. Add the power of “micro-greens” to your diet by sprouting these tiny seeds. See our recipe: Chia Seed Sprouts
  9. Try some Chia Seed Crackers for a healthy snack. See recipe: Endurance Crackers
  10. Instead of cornstarch, try thickening your gravies and sauces with Chia Seeds. Just add a couple of tablespoons of ground seeds for desired thickness. Remember it takes a few minutes for the seeds to absorb the liquid so be patient.

There are endless ways we can add these nutritious little power packed seeds to our diets. Be creative and experiment!

Do you have a favorite way to use Chia seeds? Please tell us in the comments below!

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