Ch Ch Ch Chia!

Written by Karen on January 12th, 2009

Recently I’ve been making the rounds discussing healthy foods for the new year and featuring an item which I use in my everyday diet.  Loaded with Omega 3s, it’s a great alternative to flax seed when I’m short on time to pull out the grinder.

If you missed the ads in the late seventies, I’ve attached a picture of the Chia pet for your viewing pleasure.  (Actually it started out as a ram, but morphed into many other types of animals after breeding:)

What does this have to do with nutrition, you might ask?  An amazing amount as you will see…

The sprouts from Chia pets come from chia seeds, which are one of the best Omega 3 sources you can find.  Originally from the Aztec civilization, scientists have discovered that chia seeds have 5 times the Omega 3 power of flax and fish oils. Here are some of the other benefits:

  • High in calcium (6x more than milk)
  • High in iron (3x more than spinach)                               
  • High in magnesium (15x more than broccoli)

They are also high in fiber, and a super antioxidant – which helps fight cancers, heart disease, immune deficiencies and brain drain.  Loaded with the Omega 3 fatty acid DHA (also found in eggs)…it keeps ‘lousy’ cholesterol (LDL) at bay.

Seeds in general are an excellent source of protein, complete with all the amino acids. The Aztecs eat Chia seeds as a power food for endurance…energy.  The big bonus is that they are shelf stable AND can be eaten in their whole form, vs. ground.   I add them to my morning granola mix; lunchtime salads; veggie dinners; even whole grain cookies. They are small and versatile.

Most health food stores have caught on to the chia seed buzz so ask for them on your next visit. They are so w-w-w-worth it!

10 Comments so far ↓

  1. Jan
    13
    7:59
    AM
    Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?

    I just found chia seeds recently and used in my christmas cookies! I was so surprised they were THE chia seeds, as in chia pet! Funny. But great nutritional info and taste. I just don’t like how they get stuck in my teeth and sort of turn to gel. Though I’m sure there is a good use for soaked/gelled up chia seeds?

    Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?s last blog post..Taking Care of Number 2

  2. Jan
    13
    10:12
    AM
    JS

    Your post is always so much fun as well as being informative.

  3. Jan
    13
    2:43
    PM
    Karen

    Michelle,
    Yes you do have to check the mirror after eating these guys, but at least there’s no drug test interference like with poppy seeds;-) I’ll try to dig out my chia pudding recipe.

    JS – thanks for the compliment!

  4. Jan
    14
    9:22
    AM
    Patti

    Dear Karen,
    John and I are pleased to see you back on line. We appreciate the unpretentious perspective you have on the world of food and nutrition. I am seeking Chica seeds after this article. May I point out another seed you probably already know of, but was new to me last spring when I first encountered it, at least on a menu. Hemp seed. At a local bistro I ordered soft shell crabs sauteed with a hemp seed crust. Of course, this was met with much rolling of big brown eyes by both my teenage daughters and a chorus of , “you would order that, Mom”. Needless to say, I did not leave the restaurant with an illegal smile, but I was converted to cooking with hemp seeds (the dish was delicious). They are amazingly high in protein and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. And lots of magnesium for what that’s worth. They are a bit like tiny pine nut nibs in flavor and are great in smoothies, imparting a naturally creamy texture.
    Looking forward to future revelations,
    Patti

  5. Jan
    14
    2:29
    PM
    Karen

    Patty,
    Nice to hear from you and thanks for the great feedback! I do use hemp seeds in similar vein as chia and flax, and should do a post on the benefits as well.
    Keep the new ideas coming! KS

  6. Feb
    3
    9:10
    AM
    Maggie

    Great article! I’m a huge fan of using ground flax seed in baked goods and heard recently that you can use chia seeds the same way. I’m going to get some soon.

    Maggies last blog post..Almond Applesauce Bread

  7. Feb
    11
    9:00
    AM
    Laura

    I just recently saw the chia seeds a the natural food store, but had no idea that they were as good as flax. I swear by flax seeds, during the winter when the doldrums of winter bring on the blues, I up my flax consumption and it ups my mental health. I grind them and put them on yogurt and berries (lots) with a tad of cinnamon to start my day.

  8. Feb
    11
    3:24
    PM
    Karen

    Laura,
    What a great breakfast! That’s’ the advantage to the chia seeds – you don’t have to fuss with a grinder.
    Hope fully you can find them in Maine :)

  9. Feb
    2
    10:56
    AM
    Lisa

    I love the advantages of chia seeds. My only concern is do they show up to be positive in a drug screen?

  10. Feb
    2
    10:06
    PM
    Karen

    Lisa – good question. I looked it up and can’t find anything that indicates it’s a problem but will keep digging.

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