An ancient superfood—the chia seed, may help fight hunger cravings while offering a wide range of vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein to your daily diet.

Most of us know the basic nutrition needs to help us safeguard our health and maintain a healthy weight, but what most of us don’t know is that there is one ancient food that can help you maximize the amount of nutrients you get in your daily diet, and help you lose weight. Chia seeds may not sound like something in your daily vocabulary, but you may want to add it to your daily diet.

The chia seed is an Aztec superfood that was eaten by Aztec warriors in Central Mexico. Supposedly, one tablespoon of the seeds could sustain a person for 24 hours! The Aztecs also used chia medicinally to relieve joint pain and skin conditions.

If the Chia Pet song resonates through your mind right now, thank the creators of the Chia Pet. Remember the clay animals with chia seeds sprouted all over their bodies that every kid had to have in the 80’s? Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia.

On a serious note, chia seed is one of the most powerful, functional and nutritious superfoods in the world. It has an excellent source of omega-fatty-acids, an easily digestible form of protein and is full of minerals, vitamins and soluble fiber. It contains more natural antioxidants than flaxseed and is an excellent source of dietary fiber and calcium.

Chia seeds can help you lose weight because it reduces cravings by absorbing water, expanding in your stomach and making you feel full. It has a high soluble fiber level, which helps release natural, unrefined carbohydrate energy slowly into the bloodstream.

I’m not kidding—chia seeds really do give you a feeling of fullness. Just as a fun experiment, I put two tablespoons of chia seeds in a bowl with water, and within 10-minutes, it turned to a gelatinous consistency four times its original size. Imagine what these seeds would do in your stomach! Don’t worry, it won’t sprout in your stomach (as it does on the Chia Pet), but it will curb your appetite.

Chia seeds are so versatile and convenient. It can be sprinkled on yogurt, cereal, mixed in smoothies, salads, or eaten right out of the bag. I like to add it to a bowl of steaming, steel-cut oats, toss in some wild blueberries (Trader Joe's has reasonably priced frozen wild blueberries) and sweeten with a teaspoon of agave. This crunchy seed is very bland and that’s what’s so great about it. It basically takes on the flavor of whichever food you’ve added it to.

Adding just 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to your daily diet will give you approximately 7 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and 5 grams of omega-3!

Beware though—these pesky little seeds will get stuck in your teeth, so plan on brushing, or at the very least, swish water around your mouth to wash the seeds away.

Residents of Cupertino are fortunate enough to have a (or Whole Paycheck as some like to call it) right at their fingertips. This is where you will find a few different brands of chia seeds. My favorite (for no particular reason), is the Navitas Naturals brand.

Sorry, but Trader Joe's (although one of my favorite stores) does not carry chia seeds—I’m sure it’s just a matter of time, though.

Chia seeds last for years, so stock up now!

alan April 05, 2011 at 10:37 PM
Chia seeds are great. If you can't find chia seeds locally (or the prices are too high), I'd recommend www.ChiaSeedsDirect.com for low prices and free shipping.
Anne Ernst April 06, 2011 at 03:14 AM
Thanks for the tip Alan. I've never eaten chia seeds but after reading Aracelly's column I'm intrigued.
Aracelly Clouse April 06, 2011 at 03:23 AM
Thanks Alan! I'll check out the link and maybe order my chia seeds from there next time. They are a bit pricey (especially at Whole Foods). On a side note, today I was in a hurry and thought, hmmm, what if I add the chia seeds to a cup of water and quickly chug it? I did it, but it was the wierdest sensation. I gulped it down quickly, but would not recommend this. Much tastier in a smoothie or mixed with anything besides water! Aracelly
Randy April 06, 2011 at 06:14 PM
I love chia - healthy and easy to use! Here are some great recipes with it. http://www.navitasnaturals.com/recipes/chia-recipes.html So far I've made the Chia Fresca drink and also baked with it in the Lemon Coconut Bars. Yummy!


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