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The lowdown on chia seeds

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Most of you know chia from the well-known “Chia Pets,” but what you probably didn’t know is that chia seeds are growing in popularity, as many people are discovering surprising health benefits after adding the seeds to their diet.

What many people don’t know is that chia seeds were popular long before the advent of Chia Pets. Chia seeds used to be a common find in the diet of the Aztecs and Mayans, long before the Spanish conquest of Latin America. Much like corn and beans, chia seeds were a staple in the diets of ancient cultures, getting their name from the Mayan word for “strength.”

Today, chia seeds are considered one of many superfoods. The term “superfood” tends to be thrown around a lot in the health food and diet world. What exactly is a superfood? A superfood can be defined as a nutrient-rich food that is considered to be beneficial for both health and well-being. Essentially, a superfood packs a nutritional punch with minimal calories. So, what makes chia seeds so super? Like their brother, super-seed flax, they are high in fiber and omega fatty acids. However, unlike flax, they don’t need to be ground up to reap the nutritional benefits. Chia seeds are also high in calcium, antioxidants and even protein!

Chia seeds contain 11 grams of fiber per ounce, which is 42% of your daily-recommended fiber intake. Fiber is an important part of your diet, especially when it comes to weight-loss and digestion. In general, fiber helps soak up fluid in your digestive track while slowing down digestion to make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Chia can absorb up to 12 times its own weight, thus helping curb your appetite and reducing your overall caloric intake.

Chia seeds are also known to help lower blood pressure and beneficial to those who have diabetes. Because chia seeds slow down your digestion and how fast your body converts carbohydrates to simple sugars, studies have shown that they can also help regulate your blood sugar.

Today, chia seeds are popping up all over and can be found anywhere – from health food stores that include Wild by Nature and Whole Foods, to big warehouse stores such as Costco. You can even find chia seeds at your local grocery store.

Chia seeds can make a great addition to meals. Sprinkle a tablespoon or so into your yogurt, oatmeal or smoothies. You can also make a concoction known as Chia gel by mixing chia seeds with water and allowing the chia seeds to absorb the water for a few hours. Chia gel can be added to any meal when you are looking to add some extra nutritional value. It has also been known to keep you well-hydrated. Chia gel is great for first time chia experimenters because there is no waiting time for the seeds to soften.

If you like to cook and experiment with new ingredients, you might want to consider a career in the culinary industry. Check out the programs that Star Career Academy in Syosset as to offer. Who knows? You might just be the discoverer of the next superfood!

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