Chia Seeds: The Perfect Addition to Vegan Snacks For Better Health
Meet the little seeds with big benefits: First cultivated by the Aztecs as early as 3500 BCE, chia seeds are renowned for their ability to cram a lot of energy into a small package. In fact, they were so useful in this area that a number of Mesoamerican peoples, including the Teotihuacan and Toltec nations, began relying on these seeds heavily for nourishment. In ancient times, chia seeds were ground into four, mixed into drinks, and pressed for their rich oil. They were also used in traditional medicine, religious ceremonies, and as a nutrition boost in vegan snacks and full meals.
Today, chia seeds have made a striking comeback after spending centuries being alternately ignored or relegated to an embarrassing existence creating green “fur” for clay animal figurines (who can forget Chia Pets?) Why? Modern scientists have discovered what the Aztecs and Mayans knew all along—Chia seeds are one of the world’s healthiest, most useful foods.
The Top Three Benefits Of Chia Seeds
1. Chia seeds provide a wide range of essential nutrients.
There’s a reason why “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.” Just a single ounce of these seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and 9 grams of “healthy” fats. An ounce of chia also has 18% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium, 30% of the RDA for magnesium and manganese, 27% of the RDA for phosphorus, and a sizable percentage of zinc, vitamins B2, B3 and B1, and potassium. Chia seeds also contain a diverse spectrum of amino acids thanks to their high protein content. More amazing still, chia seeds accomplish all of this while containing just 137 calories per ounce!
Chia seeds are therefore ideal for vegans who are looking for quick, easy vegan snacks that will meet a wide range of their daily nutritional requirements. These tiny black seeds are also perfect for those on strict weight loss diets as their high fiber, protein, and nutrient content can increase satiety (feelings of fullness) without packing a heavy caloric punch. When it comes to nutrient-per-calorie ratio, chia seeds are hard to beat.
2. Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidants are important because they combat free radicals, damaging particles that harm our cells and contribute to aging and a number of ailments, including cancer. Fortunately, chia seeds are rich in these life-preserving compounds. According to health expert Dr. Weil, “Chia is so rich in antioxidants that chia seeds don’t deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid.”
3. Chia seeds can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Chia seeds are one of the best plant-based sources of Omega 3 fatty acids on earth. As has been well-established by researchers, Omega 3 fatty acids have the capacity to lower the amount of “bad” LDL cholesterol circulating in our bodies and increase the amount of “good” HDL cholesterol. As a result, they can decrease our risk of heart disease when combined with other healthy lifestyle changes.
According to a 12-week study conducted at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, ingesting chia seeds each day can reduce a number of different risk factors for heart disease, including systolic blood pressure, C-reactive protein, and vonWillebrand factor. Additionally, the researchers discovered that chia seeds can double a person’s blood levels of two important Omega 3 fatty acids, alpha-linolenic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Chia was found to be superior to other Omega-rich vegan snacks in this area, including flax seed.
How To Get The Most Out Of Chia Seeds in your vegan snacks, meals desserts and more!
Chia seeds can be used in a wide variety of different recipes—especially if you’re vegan. In addition to using chia seeds as an ingredient in smoothies and a topping for oatmeal, salads, etc., you can use chia as an egg replacement in baked goods, desserts, and vegan snacks. Just blend one tablespoon of ground chia seed with three tablespoons of warm water and allow the mixture to sit until the chia forms a thick gel. This gel will act as a highly nutritious binding agent in your baked goods, removing the need for eggs.
The above ideas are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to all the ways chia seeds can be worked into our everyday diets. Do you have any favorite ways to prepare chia seeds in your vegan snacks or meals? If you do, we’d love to hear about them in the comments section!