Posts Tagged ‘food’

Learn About Chia the New Superfood

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Chia seeds come from the Salvia Hispanica plant that grows abundantly in Southern Mexican deserts. It was used by Aztec warriors for endurance. Native Americans also used chia seeds medicinally. The roasted seeds were mixed with water and eaten as gruel or ground into flour for baking. Indians also placed the seeds in water to make poultices and drinks. One tablespoon of chia seeds mixed in water was reputed to have enough nutrition to sustain a man on a forced march for 24 hours. An infusion of the seeds was also given as a fever remedy and as a poultice for gunshot wounds by the Spanish Missionaries.
Chia is undergoing something of a renaissance after centuries of neglect. It was a major crop in central Mexico between 1500 and 900 B.C. and was still cultivated well into the 16th century, AD, but after the Spanish conquest, authorities banned it because of its close association with Aztec religion (Indians used the seeds as offerings in rituals). Until recently, chia was produced by only a few small growers, but commercial production has resumed in Latin America. Nushie’s Natural sources its Chia from local organic growers in Australia.

Chia seeds come in two colors: black and white, the black seeds are more abundant and cost less than the white one. The nutritional values of the two varieties are similar, but some studies think the white may be more nutritious.
Today Chia is regarded as a super food due to its unique blend of protein, essential fats, fibre, complex carbohydrates and antioxidants.

Dr Dave Foreman recently had this to say about Chia:

The seeds and oil naturally contain more than 60% Omega-3 fatty acid. This is higher than any other plant we know. Chia seeds do not have to be ground up prior to consumption like many other seeds high in good fats, which adds a convenience factor.
It is estimated that between 19–23 percent of the seed by weight is protein. This is higher than most other seeds and grains. Combining the good fats with an excellent source of protein make this a dieter’s dream.
Chia can absorb up to 30 times its weight in water. This also works with other liquids like juices. This ability can prolong hydration (I call it having time-released water) and retain electrolytes in body fluids, especially during exertion or exercise. A 15 gram serving of Chia seeds can provide you with 4-5 grams of fiber.
Chia contains Vitamin C and Vitamin E but also has something named Cinnamic acids. It is believed that these three (especially the cinnamic acid) help preserve the seeds and, more importantly, protect the good fats from oxidizing (going bad). This is why chia is a stable product for years.
This one will make you stop in your tracks: Just two ounces of Chia seeds contain 600 mg of Calcium, compared with 120 mg for milk. On top of that, Chia also contains Boron – a critical mineral for bones – so it’s ideal for those concerned with Osteoporosis and overall bone health.
Ask any good dietician what to do for weight loss and one thing they will usually say is increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Fiber before a meal can help curb your appetite by giving you the sense of being full. Since Chia can absorb up to 30 times its weight in water, it certainly can make you feel full. As mentioned above, Chia is high in protein. Protein can be beneficial in any weight loss program by providing a great energy source and helping assure you keep your muscle mass while burning off fat. If you starve yourself, the body will use your own muscle as energy and you will not only lose fat but also muscle. Muscle is where your metabolism occurs so losing muscle may lead to decreased metabolism over time. The gel that Chia forms can also slow digestion and help balance blood sugar levels. When Chia seeds are mixed with water or stomach juices, a gel forms that creates a physical barrier between the carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down. The carbohydrates are digested eventually, but at a slow and uniform rate. There is no insulin surge or spike needed to lower the blood sugar level after eating Chia. By achieving this, you will have fewer energy drops and cravings for refined foods. This balancing of blood sugar levels is also critical for those with both hyper (high) and hypo (low) blood sugar.
With regards to heart disease Chia can provide added dietary support.We know that a diet high in fiber is recommended for those with high cholesterol and other forms of cardiovascular disease. Also, Omega-3s (usually from fish oil) are recommended for heart health. The Omega-3 found in Chia (ALA) can be converted into EPA (the heart healthy component of fish oil). Adding a few servings of Chia to your every day diet would be a huge step in the right direction for all of us (yes me) concerned with cardiovascular disease.
As mentioned above, Chia is high in Calcium and other minerals known to be helpful for bone health. Getting your minerals (and vitamins) from a food source (Chia in this case) is the best way to do it. You get better digestion, absorption and retention when they come from food vs. synthetic. A recent newsletter of mine spoke of a study showing that women who consumed more calcium in their everyday diet had better bone health than those who took most of their calcium from supplements. The women who got calcium from their diet required less calcium too. Hey – I have never been a big dairy fan and now I have one more reason not to consume it – Go Chia”

On top of all this Chia also provides the body with phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc.

Try Nushie’s Natural Certified Organic Chia Crackers. They are delicious and being dehydrated and not cooked they lock in all the nutritional value of the raw chia seed. They are a great source for your daily fibre, Omega-3, protein, and calcium requirements.

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