The Magic of Chia

Blog # 137

My first exposure to chia was the silly but iconic television commercial for the chia pet that touted pottery figures that sprouted green fur:

Little did I know that chia was so much more than just a fluffy friend! Botanically speaking, chia is a flowering plant that is in the mint family (Salvia hispanica). In recent years, chia has made it to prime time and been seemingly transformed from curious plant to power food, now thought of as a little seed that packs a wallop of a nutritional punch. These tiny, oval, brown seeds have become very popular among the foodie and health enthusiast crowds.

Although chia seems to be the trendy seed-du jour super-food, its use actually dates back to the Aztec civilization, where it was broadly cultivated and used as a tribute to the gods. Currently, Australia is the leading chia producer in the world, followed by Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Guatemala.

Chia seeds are a concentrated nutritional source, being high in fiber, protein, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. They are a terrific alternative to fish oil and seafood for those seeking omega-3 fatty acid supplements.

Chia can be eaten as a snack or, alternatively, used as an ingredient to add to recipes. The seeds are ideally suited to add to yogurt because of their “crunch factor” and are useful in smoothies to add texture and nutritional energy. The seeds can be dissolved in water to make an energy gel, which also can be used as an egg substitute for baked goods.  Additionally, the seeds can be pulverized and used as a flour substitute.

Bottom line: Chia has come a long way from the days of the chia pets.  Consider adding it to your diet to reap its nutritional benefits.

Reference: Discover the Chia, Harry Dowden, Bergen Health and Life

Andrew Siegel, M.D.

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Author of Finding Your Own Fountain of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity  (free electronic download) 

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Author of: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health; in press and available in e-book and paperback formats in 2014.

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