In recent years, chia has become all the rage within the wellness community.
And you know how I’m skeptical about trends. I gave the black and white seeds about a year to see if the hype is going to die down.
But it didn’t.
The way I see it now, I don’t think it’s ever going to die down. These tiny seeds are by far the most powerful superfood I’ve ever encountered.
What is it?
Chia seeds are the edible seeds of a minty plant1 that’s native to South America. For centuries (dating back to around 2600 B.C.), the wondrous grain has been a staple in the diets of ancient Mayan and Aztec tribes. It was a common belief that chia seeds can sustain you for 24 hours.
The word “chia” itself was derived from the word chian, which means “oily”, and as you may know, oils are practically fats.
Now don’t you shy away from the calories. Like others who’ve read Christopher McDougall’s 2011 bestseller, Born To Run, I’m simply amazed by how these little seeds alone can fuel those barefoot-running, ultra-enduring Tarahumara Indians for about 100 miles with virtually zero rest (apparently, 26.2 miles was too short for them).
I hopped on the chia bandwagon only about three months ago, but I quickly reaped its superpowers from day one.
I first grabbed the bag of chia seeds because I was looking for an alternative source of healthy fats besides my oils (I drink spoonfuls of extra-virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil and avocado oil regularly). Since I’m pretty active, I develop bruises easily throughout my body – a surefire way to get myself chronically inflamed.
The most significant difference I see is on my energy levels throughout the day – not the bunny-hopping, roller-coaster-riding kind of way, but more of a storage kind that I can draw from, especially whenever there’s a stressful situation at hand. Also, my bruises and ALL forms of discoloration, as well as my daytime lethargy, grogginess, and the regular mood swings have simply gone AWOL.
In any case, marketers have claimed a boatload of other beneficial properties besides energy boost and mood regulation that egged on me to blog about it. The weight loss claims aren’t true in my case, but other claims are truer than true. Once you take a good look at chia’s nutritional profile, you’ll see why chia seeds are so beneficial for just about anyone looking to treat any imaginable ailment (okay, now I’m exaggerating).
I’m telling you, you’ve got to try chia to feel the difference yourself, especially if you’re on PMS. Seriously, they’re worth all the hype.
Much like flaxseeds, chia seeds boast a high dose of the essential fatty acids that are commonly found in plants (and that our bodies cannot generate).
While seeds in general are omega-3-rich, chia seeds provide the most amount per serving (60% of the seed is pure omega-3s!). Hence, they’re often simply dubbed as omega-3 seeds.
One serving of chia seeds (2 tablespoons) alone offers an astounding nutritional value in just under 140 calories. The grain is practically nature’s multivitamin, as it has:
- … over 9x more omega-3 fatty acids than salmon,
- … over 15x more magnesium than broccoli,
- … over 7x more vitamin C than oranges,
- … over 6x more calcium than milk,
- … over 9x more phosphorus than whole milk,
- … over 4x more selenium than flaxseeds,
- … over 3x more iron than spinach,
- … over 3x more antioxidants than blueberries, the most out of any whole food,
- … over twice the potassium content of banana,
- … over twice more fiber than bran flakes,
- … complete vegetable protein, and
- … gluten-free.
Incredible, huh? Some of the copious health benefits you can see within a 24-hour frame include:
- boosts energy levels
- improves athletic performance
- prevents dehydration
- stabilizes blood sugar levels
- regulates appetite
- lowers blood pressure
- lowers cholesterol levels
- aids digestion
- improves insulin sensitivity
But what’s most interesting about this mild, nutty grain is that it’s hydrophilic: When soaked in liquid and let sit for some time, each seed will agglutinate, expand, and absorb up to 12 times their weight in the water.
Research shows that when consumed, chia seeds react the same way in our stomach as they do in liquid. This helps to ease digestion (slow the breakdown of carbs that normally get converted into sugars) and make you feel full pretty quickly.
Where can I get them?
If you’re residing in Jakarta, I personally got them at Club Sehat, a local grocer that also accepts orders online2. What’s nice is that they get their stuff imported from overseas (my 500g bag of chia seeds came from Mexico), and my flaxseeds were exclusively from Canada as well.
Otherwise, if you live within the northeastern area, I’m 100% sure Helene’s Organics will be your new favorite store to get your chia seeds as well as all other organic goods.
Energy drink, you say?
Yeap. The gritty gelatin is a great alternative to your Pocari, your Gatorade, and even to your GU goos.
Provided that you add some source of glucose (because chia seeds contain almost no carbs or sugars), the Chia Fresca, otherwise known as the chia energy drink, is the perfect pre-workout drink that’s sure to last you all the way through, particularly on endurance events.
Since the brain runs on glucose, I need extra sweetener on my Fresca. Mental resilience come in handy when you need that energy spurt to push through the last mile. And besides, if you don’t add any flavor to the brew, it tastes utterly bland.
Obviously my Matcha Chia Fresca (scroll allll the way down to see recipe) does not follow the traditional Chia Fresca recipe. I traded the simple sugars with good ol’ honey and spiced it up with additional flavors (that also happens to be superpowers) to up the Fresca’s potency.
As for why I chose these additions, it’s mainly because they taste good together (ever tried a cup of warm ginger and honey?). But in case you’re wondering, I’ve listed specific reasons, all of which are backed by science, as to why I chose to have them in my concoction:
antioxidant, increases overall performance
anti-inflammatory, increases athletic performance, reduces muscle soreness
- MANUKA HONEY?
higher antibacterial and antimicrobial properties than regular honey, increases athletic performance, boosts energy
- APPLE CIDER VINEGAR?
antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, regulates blood glucose levels
I’m 101% sure the green tea lovers out there would dig this. That’s why it’s crucial to get a quality matcha green tea powder for this drink.
Otherwise, whip up the original Chia Fresca today and feel the difference for yourself.
Come back and let me know what you think.
- Known as the Salvia hispanica. [↩]
- As of right now, Club Sehat is only available in Cideng, Pluit, and Mall of Indonesia in Gading. [↩]
- Matcha Chia Fresca
|Servings||Prep Time||Passive Time|
|2||20 minutes||6-8 hours|
- 3 cups drinking water chilled
- 2 tsp matcha green tea powder
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp manuka honey
- 2-3 tbsp chia seeds organic
- 2 tsp ginger powder (optional)
- Add matcha green tea powder to to water. Stir until blend.
- Pour apple cider vinegar and honey to matcha mixture to taste. Stir until blend.
- Add chia seeds into matcha mixture. Stir well. Let sit for at least 15 minutes for seeds to swell up.
- Store in fridge overnight for maximum absorption. Sprinkle ginger powder to taste.
- Enjoy :)