After hundreds of years chia seeds have had a resurgence due to their wide-ranging health and nutritional benefits, such as gastrointestinal health, detoxification, blood sugar stabilization, mental clarity, and sustained endurance.
While the medicinal and nutritional properties of chia seeds have been purported for many years, this superfood soared in popularity after its mention in the New York Times bestseller Born to Run , which describes chia seeds as an almost “magical” indigenous dietary staple of the Tarahumara Indians, a tribe of ultra runners that dwell deep in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. The Tarahumara run for hundreds of miles at top speed seemingly without effort — at times for pure enjoyment — in nothing more than sandals as they have for centuries, alongside the elite ultrarunning legend, Scott Jurek.
The specific vital nutrients that give chia seeds their superfood status and makes them so nutrient-dense include Omega-3 essential fatty acids, antioxidants, protein, calcium, iron, potassium, vitamins A, B, E, and D, and other trace minerals. Just two tablespoons of chia seeds contain ten grams of fiber and six grams of protein, and they provide more calcium than milk, more Omega-3s than salmon, more iron than spinach, and more antioxidants than blueberries. It is easy for one to see why Aztec ancient tribes used chia seeds to pay tributes and taxes to priests and nobility.
The following is a list of the myriad of ways chia seeds can enhance athletic performance and our overall health, as well as some simple ways to can incorporate chia seeds into your diet.
Because chia seeds absorb thirty times their weight in water, they help regulate body fluid levels and retain electrolytes, both key in the battle against dehydration. For long workouts in high heat and humidity, chia seeds are a handy way to prolong hydration.
Provides Sustained Energy
Chia seeds are incredibly absorbent, expanding up to ten times their original size when soaked in water and forming a gel-like substance. Because of this gel-forming action, chia seeds slow the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar, meaning the carbs you eat will be able to fuel your body for longer periods of time. The regulation of carbohydrate release also stabilizes blood sugar levels.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are a proven anti-inflammatory, and chia seeds are loaded with them. It has been discovered that the Aztecs consumed chia seeds to alleviate aches and joint pain. The essential fatty acids found in chia seeds alleviate skin problems, promote good neurological health, and can help improve the prognosis of various mental health conditions.
Supports Healthy Weight Maintenance
Because chia seeds are very high in fiber and nutritionally dense, they help users feel full faster and longer when we eat them. The absorbent qualities regulate carbohydrate conversion, preventing blood sugar spikes and providing sustained energy. Recent studies have shown that in addition to reducing body fat, chia seeds also help prevent high cholesterol and high triglycerides.
Accelerated and Improved Workout Recovery
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, while antioxidants are a powerful defense against free radicals. Chia seeds are full of both. Eat them soon after your workout to jumpstart recovery.
How to Prepare Chia Seeds
Chia seeds can be added to enhance many recipes. Unlike flax seeds, they do not have to be presoaked in order to be digestible. However, it is worth noting that sprouting chia seeds will only increase their nutritional benefits and digestibility even further. Pour a tablespoon or two in a favorite smoothie, salad, or beverage.
A popular preparation method, adopted from the Tarahumara Indians, is to make a chia seed drink energy drink, by soaking two tablespoons in a glass of water or raw fruit juice for about five to ten minutes. As a general rule, one part chia seeds to seven parts liquid will work well. The chia seeds will absorb the liquid and form into a gelatinous mixture. The seeds have a mild and a light nutty flavor, and cooked tapioca-like consistency.
Raw Organic Chia Fresca Recipe
1 cup water
1 tablespoon organic chia seeds
2 tablespoons of raw and organic fresh lemon or lime juice.
2 teaspoons raw local honey
½ tsp unrefined natural salt (optional, for additional mineral and electrolyte replacement and support)
Stir the seeds into the water and allow them to soak for at least 10-15 minutes. Add lemon or lime juice and raw honey and whisk.
Joy Jackson is a professional psychic, medium, and intuitive guide in the Pacific Northwest.