This little seed is small but mighty. It is packed with maximum nutrients but has minimal calories. The benefits it provides for your body and mind are endless, that’s why it’s often referred to as a superfood. It’s a multi-tasking machine. Chia is the Mayan word for strength and in ancient cultures the Aztecs prized chia more highly than gold. It’s not hard to see why:
Essential Fatty Acids-
A full serving of chia (usually 2 tbsp) provides 6000 mg of Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids, or EFAs. EFAs are not produced by our bodies, but are necessary for growth of tissues and cells, and help develop important brain functions and body processes. They also contribute to better skin, hair and nails.Thus, we need to be extra sure that we supplement our diet with rich sources of EFAs. Chia seeds have a higher concentration of EFAs than things like salmon, fish oil, or egg yolks. Less calories, more nutrients, it’s a no-brainer!
The protein in these tiny powerhouses is plant-based, which makes it easier for your body to digest and utilize. All amino acids are present, which are the building blocks for your muscles (that means you should eat these to get stronger muscles). Chia seeds are effective during periods of rapid development such as adolescent growth spurts, or for women during pregnancy.
The unique feature about chia seeds is their ability to absorb 10x their weight in water. That means that as they are broken down they will continue to release water into your body to give you continual hydration. The seeds also utilize the body’s fluids to help maintain electrolyte balance. This is incredibly beneficial to athletes who rely on optimal levels of hydration to keep their bodies moving.
The seeds are loaded with fiber, which slows down digestion and allows you to feel full for longer. If you’re trying to lose weight and curb your appetite these guys will do the trick. The fiber is 5% soluble and 2% insoluble which is the perfect ratio to help clear toxins and debris from your colon, and alleviate gastrointestinal distress.
When chia seeds are mixed with water they form a gelatinous paste. This creates a barrier in your stomach between carbohydrates, and the enzymes that break them down. Thus, they are broken down and converted to glucose at a slower, more regular rate. This aids with endurance, allowing you to receive a steady stream of energy from glucose instead of a quick sugar rush followed by an energy crash. It’s also beneficial for type 2 diabetes, as it maintains low blood sugar levels, can decrease blood pressure, and prevents the need for an insulin spike.
Chia seeds are often referred to as "the running food" because the warriors in the native tribes of Central America and Mexico would rely on chia seeds to maintain energy levels. Often running distances of ~200 miles over just a few days, the Tarahumara people would drink iskiate, a simple mixture of chia and water. You may not be running 200 miles, but studies show that if you increase your intake of chia during an endurance event (of 90 minutes or more) you can reduce the amount of sugar and still perform at the same level. With fewer calories and more nutrients, you'll be unstoppable!
So whether you’re looking for an endurance boost in an Ironman, to shed a few pounds for an upcoming event, or to just increase your overall body function and health, incorporating chia seeds into your diet will be incredibly beneficial. Sprinkle them on your salads, add them to your yogurt and granola, bake them into breads and muffins, mix them into smoothies, add them to your seltzer water or grab a chia bar for your next snack, the options are both endless and delicious. Not sure where to start? Take a look at some of our favorite Chia products!
Health Warrior Chia Bars