Guest post by Katie Mills
People throughout Latin America must be wondering what took the world so long to discover the many benefits of chia seeds, but now that the word is finally out, you can see all kinds of health-conscious people making the most of them, from A list celebrities and their personal trainers to everyday people in your local neighborhood. If you’re new to them then here’s a quick guide to what you need to know about chia seeds and their health benefits.
First of all, they’re totally safe to eat, even if you’re pregnant or nursing. You may have heard stories of chia seeds causing upset stomachs. That’s true but it’s because they’re full of fiber and if your body’s not used to fiber (and many of us don’t get nearly enough), then suddenly introducing it into your diet can give your body quite a shock. The solution to this is to introduce them gradually, starting with very small amounts, so your body has time to get used to them.
As you may have realized from the fact that chia seeds are safe to eat during pregnancy, they are also safe for children to eat, once they are old enough to eat seeds safely. In fact, chia seeds can be great for children’s health because not only do they have lots of nourishment themselves, but they can also be used to create healthy fruit spreads which are both really easy to make and a great alternative to the sugar-laden jellies commonly found in supermarkets.
The reason chia seeds are good for this is because they absorb about 10 times their weight in liquid. This means that instead of spending hours with scalding hot mixtures and preserving thermometers, all you need to do is stew fruit or create a fruit purée and then add the chia seeds to bind it into a spread. There are loads of recipes on the internet and once you get the hang of it, it’s really easy just to come up with your own.
Because chia seeds have lots of fiber and retain water, they are really great for helping you to feel full over long periods, which is why they’re often recommended for people looking to manage their weight. What’s more chia seeds are also a good source of plant-based protein, which again, helps to make you feel nicely full. Protein is also essential for building and maintaining healthy muscles. In fact your muscles need protein like your bones need calcium and chia seeds have lots of that too.
As if that wasn’t enough reasons to start incorporating chia seeds into your diet, we’ve actually on started touching on the sort of nourishment chia seeds have to offer. Vegetarians and vegans should note that chia seeds are one of a very small number of plant-based products which contain Omega fatty acids, of the sort for which oily fish are prized. These have all kinds of health benefits for adults and are even more important for children as they are vital to healthy brain development.
On top of all this, chia seeds also contain a huge range of vitamins and minerals including iron in which many people are deficient. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, menstruating women and children all have a particularly high need for iron and our modern lifestyles can make it increasingly difficult for us to consume enough of it, particularly if we follow diets without meat. Iron deficiency is probably most visibly linked with anemia, but it has a number of consequences, including possibly impacting on healthy brain development.
We suspect that many people already have some level of awareness of the need to improve the level of nourishment in their diet, hence the popularity of dietary supplements. In our opinion, these may indeed have a place in some people’s lives but in all honesty, we’ve yet to find a supplement which offers as many benefits as chia seeds, let alone one which does so at the same sort of economical price.