Chia seeds are one of nature’s most powerful superfoods. Yes, we’re talking about the same little seeds used to grow the veggie fur on your puppy Chia Pet. The ancient Aztecs knew the health benefits of chia seeds more than 500 years ago. In fact, they were so renowned for their virility that they were used in their religious ceremonies.
In recent years, chia seeds have made a dramatic comeback as their health benefits have been rediscovered by dieticians across the world. Let’s take a closer look at chia seeds and how you can use them to improve your overall diet on a regular basis.
1. As a vegan protein source
Attention vegan friends! You can stop eating so much beans. Your search for a delicious (non-gassy) protein source is over! One ounce of chia seeds contains about 4 grams of protein. Additionally, that same serving of chia seeds contains more iron than a cup of standard spinach.
Bodybuilders, now more than ever, are incorporating chia seeds into their diets as an additional protein source. I know what you’re thinking. Vegans and body builders don’t really go together. But if chia seeds are good enough for professional muscle builders, they’re good enough for you.
2. As a vegan omega-3 source
Let’s talk about omega-3s for a second. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to maintaining healthy vision, cognitive function and joint health. Your body needs them in order to function properly. Most of us get our omega-3s from fish, but what about those of us who choose not to eat fish?
Chia seeds are a great alternative. One ounce of chia seeds contains almost 5 grams of omega-3s. That’s more than some of the salmon you can find and at the grocery store.
3. As a vegan fiber source
Maintaining healthy levels of fiber can help keep your body stay…well…regular. We all hate bloating, and good way to keep from getting bloated is to make sure that your diet has at least 25-35 grams of dietary fiber per day. For vegans, one of the easier methods of getting their daily recommended fiber is through chia seeds.
Just one ounce (one serving) of chia seeds contains around 11 grams of dietary fiber. This makes chia seeds one of the more fiber rich foods out there. Why not get your daily fiber requirement out of the way with three servings of chia seeds?
4. As an egg substitute
For the longest time, vegans simply had to avoid recipes that called for eggs. Just imagine a desert that doesn’t call for eggs. Hard isn’t it!? Luckily, chia seeds are here to save the day. Chia seeds naturally absorb more than 10x their own weight in water, so when you grind them up and add water, they form sort of paste that has the same consistency as whisked egg.
Not only does it form an egg like consistency to replace egg in most baking recipes, but they ad a pleasant nutty flavor to whatever you are preparing. As a general rule, one tablespoon of chia seeds and three tablespoons of water equals one egg.
5. As a topping
If you haven’t tried mixing in chia seeds to your morning yogurt, you’re really missing out. In addition to being a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, chia seeds contain magnesium, iron and potassium. Everything your bones need to stay strong. What better way to start out your morning?
They aren’t just great with yogurt. They’re also wonderful on salads, muffins, cereal and oatmeal. If you aren’t a fan of the consistency when they absorb water, just sprinkle them on top before eating and you’ll find that they provide a satisfyingly nutty crunch.
6. As a snack
If you don’t have the time to include them in your meal prep, chia seeds make for a wonderful stand alone snack. Put a spoonful of chia seeds in your mouth and hold it for about 20 seconds. It’s a weird, but tasty feeling.
The wonderful thing about eating strait chia seeds, besides the previously mentioned health benefits, is because they absorb so much water, they will expand in your stomach when you swallow them. This means that you will feel more full throughout the day and not overeat during meals.
7. As an energy booster
Do you find yourself hitting that 2 o’clock slump on a daily basis? Do yourself a favor and stop reaching for sugar loaded energy drinks. All they will do is spike up your blood sugar and insulin levels, making you more tired in the end.
Chia seeds provide the perfect blend of protein and healthy fats that your body actually needs to produce enduring energy throughout the day. The easiest way to get them into your diet quickly is to add a few tablespoons to a glass of water and chug it. Do that for a week every morning and you’ll be amazed at how well your energy levels improve.
So what are you waiting for!? Head on over to your local Ream’s Food Store and pick up some chia seeds. If you’re looking to make changes to your diet for the better, chia seeds are a great place to start. Your body will thank you in the long run.