Remember those commercials for Chia Pets? Those plants that came in fun animal shapes and sprouted green “fur” when you watered them? Well, now chia seed has become a popular health food (disclaimer: I would not recommend trying to harvest your own chia seeds from your Chia Pet).
Chia seeds are nothing new; they originated in South America and were a main ingredient in the diet of ancient Mayans and Aztecs. They have, however, recently become crowned as a “super food” that provides numerous health benefits.
- Improved heart-health
- Weight management
- Better blood sugar control
- Colon health
One tablespoon of chia seed contains 4 grams of fiber, 2.4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids and 2 grams of protein, as well as important micronutrients such as magnesium and calcium.
Unlike flax seed, chia seeds do not need to (and should not be) ground before you consume them. Easy ways to incorporate chia seeds into your daily diet include:
- Sprinkle on top of your yogurt
- Add to smoothies
- Incorporate into salad dressings
- Add to baked goods
- Mix with water to form a “chia gel” and eat it plain
Here is the recipe for one of my favorite smoothies:
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 2 cups frozen berries of choice
- 1 cup Chobani vanilla Greek yogurt
- 2 scoops Vanilla 100% Healthy Whey
- 1 cup ice, as needed to thicken smoothie
- 2 tablespoons chia seed
- Add almond milk, berries, yogurt, protein powder and ice to blender. Blend until smooth.
- Add chia seeds and blend until mixed.
Yields 4- 1 ½ cup servings
Nutrition Facts per serving: 133 calories, 3.5 g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0 g trans-fat, 10 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 16 g protein.
As a dietitian I have seen many “fads” come and go, but I can assure you that chia seeds are here to stay. More than just a fad, they are nutrient-packed tidbits that are easy to eat, virtually tasteless and relatively inexpensive. You can find them at your local Hy-Vee grocery store in the HealthMarket section. Enjoy!