Spoonful of chia

These little chia seeds are one of my favorite superfoods because they are packed with nutrients and are so versatile and fun to eat! Lots of people still have never heard of them..or only associate them with chia pets (those collectible clay figurines that grow green hair when the seeds sprout – yes, I used to have one). But recently chia seeds have become increasingly popular for EATING and they are so easy to add to your daily diet with amazing health benefits.

Where do they come from?

Chia seeds come from the desert plant called Salvia hispanica, a member of the mint family. They originate in Central America and supposedly were used by the Aztecs for a variety of purposes: as a staple food in their diet, as nourishment to sustain warriors in battle, as valuable currency and tribute, and even as treatment for joint pain and skin conditions.

Why should you eat chia seeds?

»Nutritional Boost

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Chia seeds are one of the richest plant sources of omega-3s (in the ALA form, not DHA or EPA which are found in fish). Everyone needs more of this essential healthy fat (for brain, heart, skin health, prevention of disease, a better mood, less inflammation, and many other benefits). Chia seeds have an even higher omega-3 content than flaxseeds and you can eat them whole and still absorb all the nutrients (unlike flax, which has to be ground up and goes rancid more quickly).

    Chia seeds after soaking

    Chia seeds after soaking

  • Dietary fiber: Chia seeds are high in fiber and are great for digestion. They contain soluble fiber, allowing them to absorb water – up to 10x their weight! This ability to expand and retain water makes them turn into a cool jelly-like substance when they are soaked. It also means they will make you feel fuller and stay hydrated. They slow down digestion of complex carbohydrates, stabilizing blood sugar and allowing for sustained energy.
  • Antioxidants: Chia seeds have a high antioxidant content – similar to that of fresh blueberries. This also keeps the fatty acids from oxidizing and going rancid.
  • Protein: Chia seeds are about 20% protein, and are a good way for vegetarians and vegans to obtain some high quality plant-based protein with all the essential amino acids (except for taurine).
  • Gluten free
  • Vitamins and minerals: Chia seeds contain a range of important nutrients, most notably calcium (5X as much as milk), potassium (2X as much as bananas), magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and vitamin C

»Health benefits

  • Energizing and sustaining
  • Heart-healthy
  • Improves brain function
  • Stabilizes blood sugar
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Good for digestion
  • Pre-workout fuel
  • Maintaining hunger/weight
  • Nourishes skin and hair
  • Detoxifying

I discovered chia seeds about 1 year ago – I add them to my breakfast almost every day and they help me feel full until lunch. I also feel more energized for long runs if I eat chia a couple hours beforehand. Whenever I eat the little seeds I know I’m doing my body a favor :)

How can you add chia to your diet?

Chia seeds on Greek yogurt Chia seeds in overnight oats Chia pudding

KEEP READING…

healthy_grilled_salmon


Distinguishing between healthy fats and bad fats is one of the most important first steps to improving your diet, long-term health, and the way you feel. I used to believe that a healthy diet meant consuming as little dietary fat as possible. Trying to follow the “fat-free” craze, I was immediately turned off from anything with even a trace amount of fat in it, even if it contained mostly healthy fats. Under the impression that all fats were evil, I never really paid attention to the little subcategories…

Taking an amazing nutrition class this past semester with Roberta Anding, MS,RD/LD,CSSD,CDE opened my eyes to the truth about fats: that banning them completely from your diet is NOT the healthiest way to live, and that “eating fat will make you fat” is actually a misconception. The key is understanding the different types of fat. Replacing bad fats with right kinds of fats (in moderation of course) in a healthy overall diet actually promotes health and prevents disease more effectively than getting rid of all fats.

The basic types of fat:

  • Saturated
  • Trans
  • Unsaturated
    • Monounsaturated
    • Polyunsaturated
      • Omega-3
      • Omega-6

 The BAD fats: trans and saturated

toxicTrans fat is evil and you should avoid it at all costs. It raises bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers good cholesterol (HDL), a thin mints transdouble whammy for your heart. Common sources of trans fats are margarine, vegetable shortening (crisco), deep fried things, fast food, processed foods, especially packaged baked goods. Some trans fats are found naturally in animal products, but most are created through food processing. Food manufacturers take unsaturated liquid oil and partially saturate the double bonds by adding hydrogen gas (process of hydrogenation), transforming it into a solid trans fat to increase the shelf life of foods. These oils are called partially-hydrogenated – whenever you see this phrase in the ingredients list, sound your alarms! Even if the package claims “no trans fat,” there might STILL BE TRANS FAT because of lax regulations- anything that has less than .5 g is allowed to say it has no trans fat. Food manufacturers can be sneaky by simply decreasing the serving size so the amount of trans fat falls within these requirements.

~MM healthy tips~

1) The best way to reduce your chances of consuming malicious trans fats is don’t eat processed junk or fast food. But if this isn’t an option for you, at least check the ingredients to make sure you don’t see “partially-hydrogenated” or “shortening” anywhere!

Crisco_shortening

2) Even if something says “cholesterol-free” doesn’t mean it won’t raise your cholesterol! Vegetable shortening obviously has no cholesterol itself being a plant source, but the trans and saturated fat it contains can have WORSE effects on your blood cholesterol than consuming dietary cholesterol itself.

KEEP READING…