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Chia Seeds: An Omega-3 Rich Superfood

October 27th, 2009

Chia Seeds are recognized as a Superfood because they are rich in Essential Fatty Acids, Antioxidants and Vitamins such as Vitamin B, Calcium, Niacin, and Thiamin.  Chia Seeds form a gel substance when hydrated and can absorb more than 9 times their volume in liquid.  This not only produces a feeling of fullness, but also helps the body stay hydrated.  The Chia Seeds are gluten-free and high in fiber; they are the highest commercially available source of Omega-3 fatty acid, and are a complete source of dietary protein.

Chia Seeds are widely used in Mexico and South America and are gaining popularity in America as we are learning about the seeds’ health benefits.  The Chia Herb is native to Central Mexico and the origin of the word “chia” traces back to a Nahuatl word Chiapan which means “river of chia”, and later from an Aztec word Chian which means “oily”.  The seeds from this herb are very rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and contain about 30% extractable oil.  The Aztecs actually valued the Chia Seed as its third most valuable crop (behind corn and beans).

Since the seeds are made up of approximately 20% protein, 30% oil and 25% dietary fiber, Chia is used to make drinks and food.   Chia seeds can be eaten raw or ground for baked goods.  Sometimes the seeds are soaked in fruit juice to make “chia fresca” or can be made into porridges or puddings.  The sprouts are used in sandwiches or salads. 

You can buy Chia Seeds in their natural state and use them in your favorite recipes.  They can be added to salads, sprinkled on yogurt or cereal, or just eaten on their own.  You can buy a 1 lb bag of Blanco Salvia White Chia Seed Meal from NOW, or try an already made bar like Greens Plus Omega 3 Chia Energy Bar.  Many people are finding use for the Chia Seed in jellies, muffins, shakes, home-made bars and treats.

Chia Sprouts are also grown in a popular US novelty figurine, the Chia Pet.  The Chia Pet is a clay figure from Mexico covered in Chia Seed which grows into sprouts which look like fur.  These were first introduced in a ram figurine, but now there are rabbits, kittens, frogs, pups, pigs, turtles and hippos just to name a few.  There is a chia Britney, chia Mr. T, Chia Kung Fu Panda Chia and they have even introduced the Obama Chia into American culture! 

Surely you will be hearing more about the Chia Seed now that it is gaining popularity in America.  If you haven’t already tried the Chia Seed (not in pet form), then you should!  The benefits of this seed are plentiful, and it is a low-cost, easy ingredient to add to your diet each day.

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