2014-01-10 / Sports

Jen’s Fitness Forum

By Jen Font de Bon

CHIA SEEDS have been an important part of diet in Central America since the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans, yet it’s only recently that these tiny seeds are gaining popularity in the United States.

Thousands of years ago, chia was just as much a superfood as it is today. In fact, the name CHIA translated from ancient Mayan lingo means “strength.” These ancient tribes considered chia seeds a potent medicine, highly valued for their health boosting properties and great ability to increase ones energy and power for long durations of time.

All you need is one tablespoon each day to reap chia’s incredible nutritional benefits. The seeds are neutral in smell and taste, but have a notable texture. Add a spoonful to water, tea or lemonade, for example, stir, and let sit for 15 to 30 minutes until seeds form a gelatinous coating. Chia can also be enjoyed in yogurt, salads, soups and desserts.

So why exactly should you incorporate chia into your diet? Read on and find out!

Chia seeds can absorb up to 12 times their weight in water. When consumed, the super-hydrated seeds occupy more space in the stomach without adding extra calories, causing you to feel fuller longer and eat less throughout the day.

One serving provides adults with more than a third of the recommended daily fiber intake, clearing out the intestines and facilitating the absorption of vitamins and minerals in the body, while more efficiently eliminating waste and toxins. This makes them a great dietary addition for those looking to lose weight or detox.

Chia is regarded as the perfect supplement for athletes. It enhances energy, strength and endurance, maintains hydration in the body and keeps electrolytes in balance. The seed also contains all of the essential amino acids, making them a great source of protein.

Compared to other plant-based foods, chia has the highest concentration of omega-3. Actually, when looking at foods in general it packs even more of the essential fatty acid than salmon! Vital for overall health, including proper brain and organ function, we must make an effort to get omega-3 from foods since our bodies cannot produce it.

One serving a day has more antioxidants than blueberries and will keep you looking and feeling young, while fighting off disease.

Chia has more phosphorus and digestible calcium than whole milk, more magnesium than broccoli, more iron than spinach, more potassium than bananas and more selenium than flax.

It helps control blood sugar levels, which makes it a good choice for diabetics.

Chia seeds come from a plant in the mint family. It is a gluten-free vegetarian product good for controlling cholesterol, regulating blood pressure, supporting muscular development, and helping maintain a healthy heart.

Add the seeds to almost anything. You’ll love them in green salads, fruit salads, oatmeal, baked goods, pancakes, pudding, smoothies and stir-fries!

Keep up this year’s resolution to live fit by combining healthy eating habits with regular exercise. Try one of my spin-fusion classes at Suncycle Studios!

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