What?

Chia seed is an edible seed that comes from a flowering plant from the mint family. The plant is native to Mexico and Guatemala. Chia plant has been cultivated and used since Aztec and Mayan times, and is known for its dense nutrient and energy content.

Chia seeds have a nutty flavour. They are generally black or white in color, but could also be brown or gray. Chia seeds are hydrophilic, which means when mixed in a liquids (such as water), the seeds absorb the liquid up to several times their own weight, and form a gel-like substance that covers the seeds.

Why?

Chia seeds are classified as a superfood owing to their numerous qualities. Chia was consumed as an endurance food in the Aztec and Mayan cultures for long journeys or when at war, due to its high energy density. It contains several important nutrients, including Omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, carbs, antioxidants, and soluble fibers. The omega-3 content in chia seeds helps absorb fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, & K.

Chia seeds are useful when treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The high micro-nutrient and soluble fiber content of chia seeds helps regulate the bowel movements and aids with IBS. They are a rich source of several micro-nutrients including vitamins B, iron, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese, among others.

Other side benefits of consuming chia seeds include reduction in high blood pressure, improvement in cardiovascular health, reduction in food cravings, boosting brain function, and many more.

How?

Chia seeds can be sprinkled on cereals, or used in breads, smoothies, and yogurt.

The most effective method to consume chia seeds to aid with digestion, is to mix it in a liquid, like water, and let it soak for 30 minutes or overnight. You can also soak it in almond milk, vanilla extract and honey to make it a sweet jello-like treat (recipe here).

The gel-like mixture of chia seeds and water can also be used to replace some amount of eggs and oil/butter in baked foods such as cakes. This can be done by grinding the seeds in a coffee grinder and then mixing the powder in water. It will not affect the texture or the taste of the baked foods, while adding nutrient value to the food. I haven’t tried this one yet personally, but I can’t wait to try it out!

Further Reading:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvia_hispanica

http://www.webmd.com/diet/truth-about-chia

http://www.living-foods.com/articles/chia.html

http://www.mychiaseeds.com/Articles/Top10ChiaBenefits.html

http://www.no-ibs.com/blog/chia-an-amazing-food-for-ibs.html

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