Loving me some Chia Seeds!
Chia seeds are on the market and like any other health food product, they are coming in strong. If you have recently ventured into any health food store, such as Whole Foods, you would have seen many products that contain chia seeds or even just chia seeds alone. And for good reason! Basically, chia seeds are awesome and they should become a new staple in your diet. First of all, chia seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. These fabulous and healthy fats (ALA, DHA & EPA) benefit the brain by increasing memory and cognition, help to decrease inflammation in the body, assist in lowering high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and play positive roles in diabetes, heart disease, depression, and arthritis.
Chia seeds are also chock full of fiber. Dense in soluble and insoluble fiber, chia seeds can be used in similar ways to flax seeds/ flax meal, however, they contain more fiber than their counterparts. So why is fiber so important for our bodies? Think of fiber and our GI tracts as bff’s. Some foods contain soluble fiber, which when digested, forms more of a gel-type substance in the small and large intestine, providing the ability for our colon to produce fermentable by-products that enhance good colonic bacteria. Most soluble fiber is found in fruits (most prominent in the skin), vegetables, legumes, whole grains and seen on ingredients lists as pectin and/or gums.
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to our stool and shuttles out built-up, undesirable substances from our GI tract. Think of it like little fingers cleaning out your intestines as it makes it way through the colon and out of the body. Insoluble fiber is easily overlooked in our diets, resulting in many digestive disorders such as constipation, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome, which can potentially lead to colon cancers. Insoluble fiber is found in very fibrous foods such as dense vegetables (celery, lettuce), potatoes, corn bran, and whole grains. It is recommended that the average adult should have about 20-35 g/day of fiber. One serving of chia seeds (1 Tbsp) provides 5 g fiber! Making sure to have a diet high in fiber will decrease total cholesterol levels, prevent constipation, guard against diabetes, and increase satiety (therefore assisting with weight loss).
You can use chia seeds in a variety of ways, but be forewarned that when combined with liquid, it forms a gel-type consistency quite quickly. I most recently spoke to a school food service director that adds chia seeds to their homemade ranch dressing as a thickener in place of something more processed and unnatural. Such an ingenious idea! I tasted it and let me tell you..it was pretty awesome. So go ahead, add chia seeds to your oatmeal, cereal, smoothies, baked goods, yogurt, homemade dressings, sprinkle on top of salads, and anything else you think could use a little more fiber. You can find them at Whole Foods and many other health food stores.
Here’s to health!