A flowering plant originating from the mint family, Salvia Hispanica grows from a very special and coveted seed. That seed – known as a chia seed – has been around for centuries but is most recently a big star of the health and wellness movement due to its nutrient and beneficial fatty acid content. These tiny dark absorbent chia seeds can be added to food in a variety of appealing ways.
Why Choose Chia?
Surprisingly, chia seeds have become extremely popular as a replacement for some of the nutrients commonly found in animal protein. People seeking an easy source of extra iron and omega-3s might consider adding chia seeds to their salads and yogurt. Anyone lowering or eliminating meat and dairy from their diet could find chia seeds to be a simple, affordable food supplement to help keep meals as balanced and healthy as possible.
Chia Seed Nutrition
Who knew that such small seeds could be a favorable source of essential nutrients like protein, iron, calcium and manganese?
For example, one ounce of raw chia seeds has over half (4 grams) of the protein content of one ounce of cooked fish (7 grams). Adding chia seeds to a varied diet full of many different healthy whole foods could be a quick and convenient way to get your protein RDA on track and not over-consumed.
With 11 grams of fiber per ounce, chia seeds could also help keep your digestive system churning smoothly.
One of the biggest benefits of adding chia seeds to the diet is for the omega-3 essential unsaturated fat they provide. In fact, chia is an Aztec word meaning “oily.” If you’d like to move away from fish oil for omega-3 supplementing, consider chia seeds as an alternative. One ounce of chia seeds contains 4915 milligrams of omega-3 and 1620 milligrams of omega-6 essential fatty acids.
Eating Chia Seeds
When you buy a bag of raw organic chia seeds, they admittedly don’t look very enticing as a food source. Yet sprinkled over salads, stirred into yogurt, and added to granola these seeds do bring a pleasing crunch and turn into a soft thickening texture when wet.
In fact, adding chia seeds to smoothies is a great way to create thickness without affecting the taste. Stirring a spoonful of chia seeds into some water will find the seeds plumping to more than twice their size in about 10 minutes of soaking. Blend the soaked seeds into the smoothie ingredients and enjoy a thick, filling treat packed full of valuable chia seed nutrients.
What the Aztecs Knew
Long before nutritional value could be determined through modern scientific means, the Aztecs recognized the chia seed as an important part of a healthy diet. Probably originating in Central America, and growing in desert climate, these seeds have been a staple in Mexican diets since around the 16th Century.
Salvia Columbariae, another variety called golden chia, was later a favorite of the Native Americans of southern United States and helped chia seeds eventually become an early American diet staple, too.