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Are Chia Seeds worth the hype?

By Coach Josh Under General Health Tips, Nutrition Tips

Chia seeds are getting a lot of press lately, but then again so is the man who lost flab eating only Taco Bell (which is NOT a good idea). As with any of the latest food trends, it is important that you approach chia seeds with a skeptical eye. What the heck are they? And are chia seeds really worth the hype?

Chia seeds are black and white seeds similar in size to a poppy seed. They are native to Mexico and Guatemala and were cultivated by the Aztecs. Interestingly, they are the exact same seeds used to make the Chia Pet which became popular in the 1980’s with its catchphrase jingle: “Ch-ch-ch-chia!” (When I was a kid I loved growing a nice “chia fro” on that ceramic “chia guy.” Maybe you did, too?)

Synergy chiaChia seeds lack any strong flavors, and they form a cool gel-like substance when soaked in liquid. In fact, one of my favorite Kambucha teas (Synergy’s Cherry Chia), has chia seeds inside the beverage. When you drink them it’s a bit odd… but refreshing. (30 calories per serving—2 servings per large bottle—with only 3 grams of naturally-occurring sugar and loaded with vitamins, probiotics, and antioxidants.)

While you can currently find chia seeds in the health food section of most major grocery stores, I predict they will become a staple item on most mainstream grocery store shelves in no time because of their beneficial properties.

Chia seeds are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), fiber, potassium and calcium.  (ALA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in plants that can be converted to the inflammation-fighting and chronic disease-preventing EPA and DHA typically found in fish.)

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, about two teaspoons of chia seeds provide 1.7 g of ALA, 3.6 g of fiber, and 60 mg of calcium.  To give you a real life comparison, two teaspoons of chia seeds meets the daily recommended intake of ALA, provides the same amount of fiber as a packet of instant oatmeal and the same amount of calcium as about ¼ cup milk.

There are websites that claim chia seeds will cure every ailment known to humankind, from wrinkles to cancer to “the blues”.  There is even a “Chia Seed Fat Loss Diet” which alleges that anyone who eats chia seeds will notice a flatter belly in days.  While there is a lack of human studies substantiating any of these claims, be sure not to throw out the baby with the bath water when it comes to chia seeds. (Where did that expression come from anyway?)

In short, chia seeds have not yet proven to be a magic flat-belly aid (and I don’t think they will).  They are, however, very nutritious and would be a welcome addition to any healthy diet.  What’s more, excluding rare food allergies, there have been no credibly reported adverse effects or reactions from eating chia seeds.

I encourage you to try one suggestion from the list below to incorporate “Ch-ch-ch-chia!” seeds into a meal this week.  The more natural, nutrient dense foods you use to replace less healthy, processed ones, the closer you will get to your flat-belly goal.

Ten Ways to Use Chia Seedschia seeds

  1. Blend one tablespoon of chia seeds into a smoothie.
  2. Add chia seeds into already beaten eggs; soak for ten minutes and make an omelet.
  3. Add chia seeds to salad dressings or salads.
  4. Stir chia seeds into coconut water for a hydrating beverage.
  5. Eat chia seeds raw as a snack.
  6. Mix one tablespoon of chia seeds with a quarter cup of water to make an egg substitute for baking.
  7. Sprinkle chia seeds on yogurt.
  8. Make pudding by adding chia seeds to any type of milk and let soak for twenty minutes.
  9. Mix chia seeds with ground meat to make meatballs.
  10. Stir chia seeds into peanut butter for a nutrient dense spread.

With Energy!
coach joshCoach Josh

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1 Comment Add yours

  1. jonni
    03/29/2012
    4:45 PM #comment-1

    The babies were the last person in the family to get the weekly bath. Everyone shared the same water.
    So after baby’s bath the water was thrown out!

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