Chia seeds — yep, the same ones that will eventually grow into one of those goofy chia pets if you encourage them–are being called the newest Superfood.
Are they any good for you? And what the heck do you do with them?
Chia Growing in Popularity
According to an article about Chia seeds in the San Jose Mercury News, these formerly obscure seeds are getting quite a bit more popular, especially after being endorsed by “Dr. Oz” from the Oprah Winfrey show.
Online orders are suddenly booming and health food chains are starting to carry them as well as many supermarkets.
Where Do Chia Seeds Come From?
They come from a plant relative of the mint called salvia hispanica, and the Aztecs used to eat them.
Apparently the seeds were known for increasing endurance–useful whether you’re an Aztec warrior or a mother with three kids.
So What’s So Good about Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are high in:
- Calcium, and, best of all,
- ALA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. (In fact chia seeds contain more Omega-3’s than any other plant source, including flaxseed).
An ounce of chia seeds contains 137 calories, and will get you four grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber.
A lot of the health claims seem to come from looking at the nutritional profile of Chia seeds, rather than from actually studying what happens when people eat them.
But a 2007 study of 20 diabetics did show some impressive health benefits.
Patients who ate up to four teaspoons of chia seeds every day for three months:
- reduced their blood clotting factors by 20 per cent;
- reduced markers for inflammation by 30 per cent;
- increased the levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids by 80 per cent; and
- dropped six units in systolic blood pressure.
However, researchers were studying a particular kind of Chia variant called “salba.” Salba seeds are white rather than the usual black, and the supplier of the seeds, Salba Nutritional Solutions, also just happened to be a sponsor of the study.
According to an interview with the lead researcher, Dr. Vladimir Vuksan, “one hundred grams of Salba contains as much omega-3 fatty acid as a 32-ounce Atlantic salmon steak, as much magnesium as 10 stalks of broccoli, as much calcium as 2½ cups of milk and as much iron as half a cup of kidney beans.”
So What Do They Taste Like?
So with some trepidation I swallowed a spoonful of them and…
They kind of taste like nothing.
On the plus side, this makes them easy to sprinkle into other foods. You can make them into muffins or even drink them. On the other hand, they’re not a snack you’d look forward to like some other healthy fats–say peanut butter or avocados.
Ways to Eat Chia Seeds
- Add to oatmeal
- Mix into hamburgers
- Add to marinara sauce
- Add to Chili and soups
- Add to baked goods
Have you tried Chia seeds? How do you eat them?