Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Health Benefits of Chia Seed

By:  Tara Fuller

Chia Seed History
You have probably heard a lot about Chia Seed lately as it has become the latest sexy food and is in all the medias, but it has been around for centuries and was a diet staple of the Aztecs and Mayans. Chia Seed originated around 1500 and 900 B.C. in Mexico but are now also cultivated in Central and South Americas. They are tiny seeds about the size of a gnat but are a powerhouse of nutrients. It is hailed as the be-all for its ability to cut cravings, balance blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, triglycerides, improve cardiovascular disease, blood pressure and promote weight loss. Historically, the seeds were used to provide energy during long hunts as well as medicinally. Reverend by the people, Chia Seed was often used in religious ceremonies leading to its ban by the Spanish during their conquest of the region.
Nutritional Benefits
Chia Seed are a valuable source of Omega-3 essential fatty acid which is important for supporting normal cardiovascular function. They are easily digestible and unlike Flax Seed, they do not need to be ground. Their mild, nutty flavor makes them versatile enough to toss into just about any dish from sweet to savory.

Chia Seeds hold between 9-12 times their weight in water and take on the flavor of whatever it is mixed with. They absorb quickly and once fully saturated the seeds have a slight resemblance to tapioca. These gel-like seeds have a tendency to keep a person feeling full for hours, which is great for the person trying to lose weight. Hunger is often the greatest culprit for overeating and sabotaging weight loss goals. However, it is important to note there are no studies to date showing that eating Chia Seed results in weight loss. There are no miracles in losing weight; hard work is required.

Because of the high consumption of processed foods today, diet related diseases such as the painful conditions of Diverticulitis and Diverticulosis are becoming more prevalent; and suffers of diverticulitis and diverticulosis have been instructed to eliminate nuts and seeds from their diet; however, studies now show this is not the case. In fact, the most successful and cost effective way to prevent these painful symptoms are to significantly increase fiber from foods in the diet. If celery isn't your cup of tea or you are having difficulties eating enough fiber to meet your recommended dietary allowances (RDA), consider a serving of Chia Seed daily. Each Chia Seed is coated with gel-like soluble fiber and is protected by an insoluble fiber exterior. The two together helps food glide through the digestive system for regularity and the soluble fiber keeps the colon hydrated and lubricated so food passes effortlessly. 

The unique makeup of Chia Seed with its perfectly complimentary soluble and insoluble fiber content slows the body's conversion of starches into sugars. This helps stabilize blood sugar keeping energy levels consistent throughout the day. Healthy blood sugar levels keep the body feeling energized instead of tired, often resulting in poor pick-me-up food choices. By keeping blood sugars balanced it reduces the risk for developing diabetes type II; and if eaten with food, it helps convert food into a constant release of energy. 

Chia Seed are a nutritional powerhouse for antioxidants as well as important minerals. A serving of Chia Seed is comparable to fresh blueberries at a fraction of the cost. Antioxidants ward off free radicals and play a crucial role in many bodily functions and are effective in preventing numerous age-related diseases. It is as good for the skin as it is for the body.

How to Incorporate
I use Chia Seed in my diet on nearly a daily bases. I sprinkle in soups, on meats, yogurt, baked goods, salads, cereal, drinks and smoothies to name a few. I love Chia Seed pudding which is very similar to Tapioca and my No Bake Oatmeal Cups.

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