Seeds have been shown to offer some protection against the “diseases of civilization” – and most of them are cheap, keep indefinitely without refrigeration, and may be sprouted. Fenugreek and flax are two of my favorites, but chia is my focus today.
Chia, a member of the mint family, should cost you no more than $5.00 per pound, even for organic/non-GMO versions. There are many reasons to buy and use chia:
Chia is a tasty, easy-to-use source of fiber. Dietary fiber helps weight management, keeping you feeling full (satisfied) longer, so more able to resist snacking. This aspect of chia is particularly useful at breakfast time, because chia combines well with common breakfasts such as cereal, hot and cold, smoothies, or cottage cheese, and prevents mid-morning “slump.” Grind the seeds to enable your body to make maximum use of the omega-3s.
Chia’s ability to absorb umpteen times its weight in water helps keep you painlessly regular. Your GI tract needs fiber to function well, ideally at least 50 grams each day (far more than most of us take in!). Adding chia to your diet not only moves waste quickly through the system, but also reduces any inflammation that may be present. If you suffer from diverticulitis, chia may decrease the incidence of flare ups. If you are pre-diabetic or diabetic, you may find that chia helps smooth out spikes in blood sugar.
Chia supplies micro nutrients such as iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are important in managing cholesterol, and chia is one of the richest and easiest to use plant sources of omega-3s.(Note: fatty fish are the best source of omega-3s.)
Like flax seed, chia can serve as a vegan egg substitute: grind 1 TBSP of chia and mix with 3 TBSP of water, then allow to sit for a few minutes until a gel forms. Whole or ground chia also gives smoothies more body. Chia is a good replacement for pectin, so you can even make “jam” by adding ground chia and sweetener to fruit puree.
Lastly, consuming fiber-rich foods like chia may lower your blood pressure as well as reducing fspikes in blood sugar. The benefits here are obvious!
Chia seeds are a versatile: You can fit them into many of your favorite recipes. I like to use them in mixed-grain porridge, home-made energy bars/bites, and lemon “poppy seed” muffins. The cracker recipe from Oh She Glows (http://ohsheglows.com/2012/01/31/endurance-crackers/) is a winner! Send me your favorites, and I’ll share them on the Recipe page.