FoodFacts.com has a very clear memory of the first time we ever heard of Chia. It was on television commercials advertising a unique novelty plant called a Chia Pet. It took off right away … and was spun off into many different forms. The original pet was a ceramic animal with seeds that a person would water and Chia grass would sprout on its body. They’re still sold. You can even buy a Chia Dinosaur.
Today, the Chia seed is the newest health trend. This tiny seed contains antioxidants, protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. It has all the properties of a “superfood.” The Chia seed is only a bit larger than a poppy seed, so it has a wide array of uses. It has binding properties, so it can even be used as an egg replacement in baking for people with egg allergies. One tablespoon of Chia powder dissolved in a quarter cup of water equals one egg. It’s gluten-free and contains anti-inflammatory properties. It has no discernible flavor, so you can’t have any real problem with the taste.
Looking at the nutritional content of one tablespoon of Chia seed, it’s easy to see why it’s becoming such a popular addition to the diets of so many people. It contains 60 calories, 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein and 2.4 grams of Omega-3, 64 mg of calcium and 40 mg of magnesium. One tablespoon of Chia seed actually contains the same amount of Omega-3 as does four ounces of salmon. It is important to note that the body can absorb Omega-3 from fish more easily than plant-based Omega-3.
Because of the high fiber content of Chia, it’s of great use to people trying to lose weight, as it will help you stay fuller for a longer period of time. In addition you can keep it in your pantry for about five years. The high levels of antioxidants it contains prevent it from becoming rancid.
So what can you use Chia seed for? In addition to an egg substitute in baking (as was mentioned previously), Chia seeds can be sprinkled over salads, cereal, or yogurt. They can be used as a thickener in sauces and gravies. Because of their binding properties, Chia seeds can be used to make fruit “gels” … puree the fruit of your choice and add some ground seeds. You can use the “gel” to top ice creams or cake. Mix them into hot cereal. There are so many ways to add these tiny nutritional giants into your diet, we could go on and on.
Look for white or black/gray Chia seeds. Brown seeds are not yet ripe, so you won’t gain all the nutritional benefits you would from the white or black/gray seeds.
All of us at FoodFacts.com are excited to try the myriad of different ways to incorporate Chia seeds into our diet. We bet the Chia Pet had no idea all those years ago that it would be the precursor the latest healthy diet and nutrition news!