Chia seeds have been a staple food source for the American Native people for centuries (long before the Chia Pet hit the market). Aztec warriors would eat chia during hunting trips, and the Indians of the Southwest would eat only chia seed mixed with water as they ran from the Colorado River to the Pacific Ocean to trade products.

Chia seed is a complete source of dietary protein, providing all the essential amino acids. Compared to other seeds and grains, chia seed provides the highest source of protein, between 19 to 23 percent protein by weight. One of the unique qualities of the chia seed is its ability to absorb more than nine times its volume in water or other liquid.

The gel-forming property of chia seed tends to slow digestion and sustain balanced blood sugar levels, which can be helpful in preventing or controlling diabetes. Whole, water-soaked chia seeds can be easily digested and absorbed.

The fastest and easiest way to take chia seed is to add one tablespoon chia seed into an eight-ounce glass of water or juice, stir to break up any lumps, let sit about five minutes, stir again, and then drink.  My clients have found that taking 2 tablespoons a day has shown a reduction of blood glucose levels.  Take one rounded tablespoon at breakfast (in juice, yogurt, sprinkled on cereal, etc.) and one rounded tablespoon in the evening.  If the blood sugar is the highest in the morning, try taking two tablespoons in the evening or experiment with taking varying amounts at different times of the day, between or with meals. It is a food, and can be found in some health food stores.  Many of my clients have reported improved bowel function with chia seeds.  I don’t recommend them for hypoglycemics.

Chia Factoids

• Helping to control weight: mixed with orange or other fruit juice, the gel-like seeds make a nutritious breakfast that leaves one feeling full and without hunger until noon.

• Research is being conducted to show how chia may prevent and/or overcome Type 2 (non-insulin dependent) diabetes.

• Chia seeds contain greater alpha-linolenic acid concentrations than any other seed or grain. This substance lowers the risk of heart disease, blurred vision, and numbness.

• Native people have used chia gel on wounds, for colds and sore throats, for upset stomachs, body odors, prostate problems, and even constipation.

• Chia seed contains large amounts of B vitamins and calcium. By volume, one ounce of chia contains two percent B-2 (riboflavin), 13 percent niacin, and 29 percent thiamin, and trace amounts of all B vitamins. In roughly two ounces of chia (100 grams), there are 600 milligrams of calcium, contrasted with 120 milligrams of calcium in the same amount of milk. That’s five times as much calcium than milk!

• Chia also contains boron, which is needed for bones. With much of the nation’s soil boron depleted, we simply are not getting enough boron in our daily diets. Boron is needed to aid the metabolism of calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus in bones and for muscle growth. Boron also can increase the levels of natural estrogen.

• Early results in current cancer research with chia show promise in this area.

• Chia is an excellent source of fiber.

More information about chia can be found in the book The Magic of Chia by James F. Scheer.

©Pat Block ND 2007

 

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