Happy Herbivore Blog

January 28, 2012

What are Chia Seeds?

While driving in the car the other day my sister and I were talking about seeds and berries, and the topic of chia seeds came up. Which, of course, led us to Chia Pets. We weren't even sure if those 'pets' used the same seeds as what is sold today for eating.

If you're not familiar with Chia Pets, they are a handmade pottery animal or character that you plant soaked chia seeds in and the seeds grow (or sprout) to be the animals 'fur' or 'hair'.

Chia seeds come from a flowering plant (usually either salvia hispanica or sylvia columbariae) and is in the mint family. They can be eaten whole, ground, sprouted or soaked to form a gel.

In Mexico, chia seeds mixed with water or juice is called Chia Fresca. I've seen recipes online that add lime juice and a sweetener, but I'm not sure I could drink this. At least the Oh How She Glows Oats (pg. 17, EHH) has oats and a banana with the chia seed mixture.

There are many claims of health benefits to eating chia seeds, with some advertising it as a super food. Chai seeds are high in fiber, protein, and Omega-3 fatty acids. They may also help to regulate blood sugar, lower blood pressure (sometimes too much) and help with weight loss.

However, chia seeds can affect heart, diabetes, blood pressure, and blood thinner medication. It can even interact with aspirin!

**You should consult with a doctor before before taking chia seeds if taking prescriptions or needing to have surgery of any kind**

Chia seeds can also cause digestive issues and allergic reactions in some people. 

The same reason chia seeds may help in weight loss, can be the same reason they cause digestive issues. When chia seeds interact with water, they form a gel-like substance. This helps you feel full sooner, so you eat less food, but can also lead to excessive bloating and gas.

I've heard that chia seeds can be addictive as well. Some species of salvia plants have even been prohibited or strictly regulated around the world. Chia seed plants are not in this category.

Have you tried chia seeds?

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