By: William Anderson http://www.living-foods.com/articles/chia.html
"In the last twenty five years, there has been a resurrection in the definition of medicine, a resurrection that amplifies the significance of our eating habits and our lifestyle. Medicine is not only defined as a treatment for illness and disease, it is now understood to be for the prevention of illness and disease. That would mean, for example, laughter is a medicine because research found it to boost the immune system. Exercise is good medicine for its cardio-vascular stimulation, muscle toning and flexibility and expelling toxins and for giving you a feeling of well-being, all immune boosters. To express a positive attitude towards life is not only good medicine for you, it is good medicine for those in contact with you. But the most important medicine, especially for the prevention of illness and disease, is our diet. It only needs our cooperation in supplying proper hydration and the needed nutrients to effectively maintain a state of well-being.
Research has revealed that more than two thirds of all deaths in the United States are diet related. More than 50% of all deaths are caused from coronary occlusion, blockage of the blood flow to the heart and/or the brain. These are all preventable deaths according to the Journal of American Medical Association which published in 1961 that, “All coronary occlusion can be eliminated by 97% through a vegetarian diet.” Fourteen hundred American’s are dying of cancer every day. In the prestigious Advances in Cancer Research, they concluded, “At present, we have overwhelming evidence… (that) none of the risk factors for cancer is… more significant than diet and nutrition.”
Because the question of what might be the optimum diet can, at times, be emotionally charged for many people, having had a significant emotional commitment in believing they know what’s best, I would like to suspend the issues of diet and introduce you to a “super” food that all would agree on. It is known as the Chia Seed. Once valued so much that it was used as currency, this unique little seed has exceptional nutritive and structural benefits.
Chia, is familiar to most of us as a seed used for the novelty of the Chia Pet™, clay animals with sprouted Chia seeds covering their bodies. Little is known, however, of the seeds tremendous nutritional value and medicinal properties. For centuries this tiny little seed was used as a staple food by the Indians of the south west and Mexico. Known as the running food, its use as a high energy endurance food has been recorded as far back as the ancient Aztecs. It was said the Aztec warriors subsisted on the Chia seed during the conquests. The Indians of the south west would eat as little as a teaspoon full when going on a 24hr. forced march. Indians running form the Colorado River to the California coast to trade turquoise for seashells would only bring the Chia seed for their nourishment.
If you try mixing a spoonful of Chia in a glass of water and leaving it for approximately 30 minutes or so, when you return the glass will appear to contain not seeds or water, but an almost solid gelatin. This gel-forming reaction is due to the soluble fiber in the Chia. Research believe this same gel-forming phenomenon takes place in the stomach when food containing these gummy fibers, known as mucilages, are eaten. The gel that is formed in the stomach creates a physical barrier between carbohydrates and the digestive enzymes that break them down, thus slowing the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar.
In addition to the obvious benefits for diabetics, this slowing in the conversion of carbohydrates into sugar offers the ability for creating endurance. Carbohydrates are the fuel for energy in our bodies. Prolonging their conversion into sugar stabilizes metabolic changes, diminishing the surges of highs and lows creating a longer duration in their fueling effects.
One of the exceptional qualities of the Chia seed is its hydrophilic properties, having the ability to absorb more than 12 times its weigh in water. Its ability to hold on to water offers the ability to prolong hydration. Fluids and electrolytes provide the environment that supports the life of all the body’s cells. Their concentration and composition are regulated to remain as constant as possible. With Chia seeds, you retain moisture, regulate, more efficiently, the bodies absorption of nutrients and body fluids. Because there is a greater efficiency in the utilization of body fluids, the electrolyte balance is maintained.
..................................................................................Chia, as an ingredient, is a dieters dream food. There are limitless ways to incorporate the Chia seed into your diet. Chia must be prepared with pure water before using recipes. The seed will absorb 9 times it’s weight in water in less than 10 minutes and is very simple to prepare.
Food Extender/Calorie Displacer: The optimum ratio of water to seed, for most recipes, is 9 part water to 1 part seed. One pound if seed will make 10 pounds of Chia gel. This is the most unique structural quality of the Chia seed. The seed’s hydrophilic (water absorbing) saturated cells hold the water, so when it is mixed with foods, it displaces calories and fat without diluting flavor. In fact, I have found that because Chia gel displaces rather than dilutes, it creates more surface area and can actually enhance the flavor rather than dilute it. Chia gel also works as a fat replacer for many recipes.
Making Chia Gel (9to1 ratio): Put water in a sealable plastic container and slowly pour seed into water while briskly mixing with a wire whisk. This process will avoid any clumping of the seed. Wait a couple of minutes, whisk again and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk again before using or storing in refrigerator (Gel will keep up to 2 weeks). You can add this mix to jams, jellies, hot or cold cereals, yogurts, mustard, catsup, tarter sauce, BBQ sauce, etc.. Add the gel, between 50% to 75% by volume, to any of the non-bake mentioned foods, mix well and taste. You will notice a very smooth texture with the integrity of the flavour intact. In addition to adding up to 50% to 75% more volume to the foods used, you have displaced calories and fat by incorporating an ingredient that is 90% water. Use as a fat replacer, for energy and endurance, or for added great taste, buy substituting the oil in your breads with Chia gel. Top your favorite bread dough before baking with Chia gel (for toping on baked goods, breads, cookies, piecrust, etc., reduce the water ration to 8 parts water to 1 part Chia seed) for added shelf life.
There are additional benefits from the Chia seed aside from the nutritive enhancements when used as an ingredient. It was also used by the Indians and missionaries as a poultice for gunshot wounds and other serious injuries. They would pack the wounds with Chia seeds to avoid infections and promote haling. If you place a seed or two in your eyes it will clean your eyes and will also help to clear up any infections. There is a wealth of benefits beyond the information outlined in this article and treasure-trove of benefits yet to be discovered. Chia seed, having a qualitatively unique situational richness along with a profound nutritive profile is one of man’s most useful and beneficial foods and is destined to be the Ancient Food of the Future."
15 Facts About Chia Seeds http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/15-facts-about-chia-seeds.html
When you think of the word "chia" you probably think of chia pets. That's what came to mind when I first heard about it (for good reason - chia pets are grown with chia seeds). I didn't pay much attention to it and walked by the bags of it for sale in Whole Foods without a second thought. It turns out I was walking past a newly rediscovered "superfood."
I say "rediscovered" because chia was prized as a superfood for thousands of years before it was nearly forgotten.
Here are 15 facts I found out about chia:
The chia plant (Salvia hispanica), sometimes referred to as chia sage, originated in the central valley of Mexico and is a member of the mint family.
Records indicate chia seeds were used as a food source as far back as 3500 B.C.
It was the third most important crop for the Aztecs, who recognized it as a "superfood" and prized it so highly that it was often used as currency.
Aztec warriors and runners are believed to have sustained themselves for an entire day on just a tablespoon of chia.
After the Spanish conquest, chia seed nearly disappeared as the Spaniards banned foods that were linked in any way to Aztec religion or tradition and virtually wiped out the complex agricultural system established by the Aztecs in order to grow foods that were popular in Spain instead.
The word chia is derived from the Aztec word chian, which means "oily."
The name of the Mexican state of Chiapas, originally called Chiapan, translates loosely to "river where the chia sage grows."
According to Aztec mythology, chia seed came from the nose of the maize god, Cinteotl.
The Chumash Indians of California also cultivated chia and prized it for its beneficial properties.
This variety of chia is often referred to as chia sage or California chia.
Chia seeds have more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other plant food, including flax seeds.
Chia seeds are about 20% protein.
When soaked in water for 30 minutes, chia seeds form a thick gel. This gel also forms in the stomach when chia seeds are consumed. That sounds bad, but researchers believe it actually slows down the rate at which digestive enzymes turn carbs into sugar, making it especially beneficial for diabetics and others with blood sugar issues.
The popular Mexican drink chia fresca is made by soaking chia seeds in water until they become gelatinous and then adding sugar and lemon or lime juice.
Chia is hydrophilic and can absorb more than 12 times its weight in water. This makes it helpful in maintaining body hydration, something that is especially beneficial for athletes who need to remain hydrated during races and endurance activities.
Chia seeds are so high in antioxidants that they do not spoil easily and can be stored for long periods, unlike flax seeds.