There is much in the way of research, discussion and controversy regarding fat – of every sort. What fats one should eat verses which to avoid, fat as a health risk and fat that’s delicious. From bacon to coconut oil and cellulite to zero-fat potato chips here is some fat you can favor – omega fats – as found in Chia seeds. What are omega fats? Also known as essential fatty acids(EFA’s), omega fats include the subsets omega-3, omega-6 and omega 9 fatty acids and are essential (as the name suggests) for good health.
Omega fatty acids are the positive fats that show up in everything from avocado and olive oil to fish, hemp seeds, coconut oil and chia. Omega fatty acids are important for brain function, calcium and vitamin D absorption as well as cardiovascular and joint health. They are called ‘essential’ fatty acids because they are just that – essential. When we consume negative fats such as highly saturated animal fats, hydrogenated vegetable oils (as found in margarine) and high heated oils we clog the receptor sites in our cells for these vital nutrients.
One amazing food that is gaining recognition for its essential fatty acid content is chia seeds. Remember those chia pets back in the 80’s where you watered the ceramic sheep and sprouted a strange green coat on it’s back? Yes, that was chia – and guess what – it’s back with style. Chia seeds are the greatest source of plant omegas and contain over 60% essential fatty acids. That is huge! Chia contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, essential to brain and heart health, skin growth and metabolism. Our bodies cannot create their own omega fatty acids, we must consume them from our diet. Chia seeds are an excellent source for these powerful oils and are full of fiber and digestible proteins as well.
The essential fats in chia can favor your weight loss efforts as they help to “boost the metabolism and promote lean muscle mass.” Omega-3’s help to lubricate the joints and reduce inflammation, both important factors to consider in working out. The bulking action of chia also fills the stomach giving that ‘full’ feeling as well as acting as an amazing fiber and colon cleanser. The fiber in chia also stabilizes blood sugar and helps maintain proper blood pressure.
Omega-6 fatty acids, abundantly found in Chia seeds, and also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), “help stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism, and maintain the reproductive system.”
There are so many great benefits to eating chia seeds it’s hard to stop at the fats. Chia seeds are a great source of antioxidants, calcium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. Phosphorus is another important nutrient for the brain, along with omega fatty acids. Phosphorus is burned every time we think a thought and “Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function.” It is believed that pregnant women who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids will have children with a greater risk for vision and nerve problems.
What do you do with Chia?
Well, chia seeds can be added to your favorite smoothie, thrown into pancake, bread and muffin batter or soaked overnight for a gelatinous base to a delicious morning ‘chia’ pudding. To make the pudding simply soak 1/4 cup chia seeds over night in 3/4-1 cup water. In the morning you will find the chia seeds have expanded and become soft and nearly see-through. To this concoction add 1/2 can coconut milk, 1 Tablespoon raw chocolate powder and a few teaspoons of your favorite sweetener (agave nectar or coconut nectar recommended). You can add a dash of cinnamon for a nice variation and enjoy!
Chia can also be used as an egg substitute by soaking a teaspoon in a few tablespoons of water and let it expand.
Chia seeds will keep you going all morning or all day and will fortify your cells and brain with the important fats you can favor. Next time you are looking for a great source of protein and fatty acids, look no further than that old familiar Chia.
Written by: Stasia Bliss