Chia Seeds Instead of Carbohydrates

by Dan Sullivan ~ source

If you have been to your local health food store lately you might assume that Chia Pets are making a comeback. Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, those terracotta figurines and their fur like sprouts are still around. They even have a SpongeBob version now. Little did we know back in 1982 when they were first introduced, that Chia seeds would one day labeled a “superfood.”

Salvia hispanica, or as it is more commonly known, Chia, is an herb indigenous to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala and comes from the mint family of flora. The appeal of Chia seeds comes from the fact that they are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, including alpha linoleic acid, protein, and fiber. One ounce of these seeds contains 4g of protein, 9g of fat and 11g of fiber, not to mention antioxidants, calcium, and other minerals. However, as CNN Health expert Dr. Melina Jampolis suggests, there is no actual definition of a “superfood.” This is a marketing gimmick used to describe foods that contain above average amounts of health promoting nutrients. Nevertheless, it is suggested that Chia seeds:

1) Help you lose weight. When exposed to water Chia seeds become gelatinous and increase in size and weight. This gel is hard to remove from the stomach making you feel full longer.
2) Help balance your blood sugar. The presence of soluble and insoluble fiber combined with the gelling action of the seeds will help slow the conversion of starch into sugar. Sprinkle seeds on your meal and your food will become a constant steady energy.
3) Help keep you regular by ensuring adequate daily consumption of insoluble fiber. This will have the added benefit of helping prevent diverticulitis.
4) Help fortify your diet with essential fatty acids usually found in fish or supplements.
5) Help provide you with more natural energy all day long due to its higher protein content.
6) Help prevent the signs and symptoms of aging due to its high antioxidant concentration. These antioxidants will combat free radical damage in your body.
7) Help hydrate you. Due to the difficulty the body has separating the water from the Chia gel it allows for the water to irrigate the system as it passes through.

In 2009, a study recognized by the National Institute of Health, examined results from systematic review of the health benefits derived from Chia seeds. It was concluded that there was little scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of Chia seeds on cardiovascular risk factors or weight loss.

However, A later study, from 2011, found that Chia loading appears to be a viable option for enhancing performance in endurance events lasting longer then 90 minutes. This study also concluded that Chia loading allowed athletes to reduce their dietary intake of sugar while matching the performance advantage seen with carbohydrate loading.

“Superfood” or not, since they have little to no flavor you could make a case for including them in what you already eat. Just make sure to keep portions under control, calories in check and eat a balanced diet overall.