Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New Food: Chia Seeds

Last fall I read the book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. The book engrossed me, with fascinating accounts of long-distance runners--I even imagined for a bit that I could be one! The book helped me get motivated to train for and run the Take It To The Lake Half Marathon. And while running 13.1 miles, I decided that might be a long enough race for me.  Although I might not be cut out to run 100-mile long races, the book did introduce something more accessible: chia seeds. 

Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) are tiny seeds, a magical food from the Mint Family that is native to Mexico and Guatemala. Local endurance runners in Copper Canyon in Mexico, the Tarahumara, drink a concoction made with chia seeds before they go out to do a barefoot run of 50 or a 100 miles. The seeds fuel them during these grueling runs over steep trails.

Fortunately chia seeds aren't limited to Mexico and Guatemala anymore. I found chia seeds are now available in a variety of places in the U.S.: health food stores, Azure Standard, Amazon, and even more mainstream stores like Costco. This "superfood of the Aztecs" was once reportedly as common as maize (corn) in parts of the Aztec culture. Although I don't think it will become quite as popular as corn in today's culture, it is definitely a growing food item, even though it generally costs $8 to $16 a pound. (Hmm, how can we grow some?)

Why are chia seeds a raising star? 

* Chia seeds can help fight diabetes by slowing the conversion of carbohydrates to sugars in our stomachs.

* Chia seeds can help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure.

* Chia seeds can help hydrate athletes, as they can hold 10 times their weight in water.

* Chia seeds are full of healthy omega-3 fats (30%) and omega-6 fats (10%).

* Chia seeds have more fiber than bran.

* Chia seeds have more antioxidants than blueberries.

* Chia seeds have more calcium than milk.

* Chia seeds don't really have much taste, so you can add them to anything (salads, yogurt, smoothies, cereal, baked goods, etc.).

* Soaking chia seeds in water before you eat them makes them even more effective.

Well, the first few times I tried chia seeds I didn't notice any superhuman effects, but I decided to go ahead and let my kids give them a try. (And maybe superhuman effects are not desirable, considering that Desert Boy wanted to try and parachute with a plastic bag held over his head the other day.)

I put some chia seeds in a bowl, gave the kids some fresh fruit, and they were off.
They thought pushing their fruit into chia seeds was about the equivalent of using sprinkles. I was doing a little happy dance in my mind.

I couldn't believe how much they liked eating chia seeds!

We'll continue to eat chia seeds and see if they make us feel any different. It's certainly an easy food to add to our lifestyle, and with so many benefits, it's one I want to try to get in the habit of using daily.

Have you tried chia seeds? What ways do you like to eat them?

p.s. If you have an old chia pet around, you can also eat the sprouts.
And the state of Chiapas in Mexico is named after chia seeds. "Chia" means strong!

Disclosure: I have affiliate links to Amazon in this post. Clicking to them allows you to purchase the product for the same, normal price, but if you buy it (or other items) within 24 hours of clicking, I get a small commission that helps me keep up the great content of Desert Survivor. Thanks for your support! 

1 comment:

Sharrol Winson said...

Good sharing, for healthy purpose, Chia seeds offer the highest volume of Omega-3, as well as addition fiber (soluble and insoluble) along with vitamins or perhaps minerals you don’t usually get whenever you take sea food oil. Chia seeds giving you long lasting energy during the day moving in deep, restful sleep during the night time. May read this article about Chia seeds at:

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