What are chia seeds? History, Use and Tips

what are chia seeds?

History of Chia

Are you wondering what are Chia seeds? Salvia hispanica, or Chia is a flowering plant native to Mexico and Guatemala. It is now grown predominantly in Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, and Australia.. The seeds from the plant (chia seeds) date back to the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas. Their warriors have recognized chia’s exceptional energy and stamina promoting attributes. 

Known as the “running food,” Aztec warriors were exclusively fueled by chia seeds and water during conquests.  The Aztecs treasured the seed so much that they would deliver it to their king in homage. The Tarahumara people of Mexico who were mentioned in “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, use chia to make iskiate orchia fresca”.

They use the drink to fuel their traditional 200 mile runs through their homeland of rough canyon country.   Their simple recipe for iskiate; chia seeds, water, light sugar, and a splash of lime.
Health Benefits of Chia

 The miniature kernels are a complete protein, having twice the protein of any other seed or grain.  Due to its high level of easily digestible protein, omega-3 oils, and abundant fiber, chia has become a staple food for runners everywhere.  Diabetics enjoy chia seeds because they help stabilize blood sugar levels.  Weight loss has been attributed to the seeds because they easily bulk up food without changing the taste. Because the carbohydrates are released incredibly slow, they make people feel fuller longer. 

Chia for hydration and electrolytes

They also help keep the body hydrated and the electrolytes balanced, so they are the perfect foods for athletes.  Chia seeds are packed with calcium, and they also contain boron which is a trace mineral that helps calcium get into your bones.  The super seed has serious antioxidant properties; in fact, it has 3 times more antioxidant activity than blueberries. This allows you to fight disease and defy age naturally. 

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Chias have 3x more iron than spinach, which is needed to carry oxygen from the lungs into the muscles and organs.  These little super food seeds have incredibly high levels of omega 3 and omega 6, both of which are essential for brain function, reversing depression, and overall health. Because of its high amount of good fat, it manages to survive and thrive without any chemical interference.

Need one more benefit?  The bugs never touch it, so it needs absolutely no pesticides.

My Personal Use of Chia

 I have just recently begun incorporating chia into my diet.  I use it pre-run, run, and post-run.  If it’s good enough for the Tarahumara people (the greatest runners to ever live) then I’m gonna use it.  In fact, I mix it pretty much like they do.  One alteration I make (when money allows) is swapping plain water for coconut water or a mix of the two. 

Before heading out on my long runs of 15 miles or more I fill up my water bottle with a third coconut water, a couple scoops of chia seeds, and top it off with filtered water.  Sometimes I add in the lime juice and a couple pieces of ice on hot days.   Let the mix sit for about 5 minutes before drinking.  With my super drink and a few medjool dates, I am good to go!

You can also use chia to create some amazingly delicious pudding. Check out my Plum Crazy Pudding recipe to learn how!

I am always interested to hear how others are using chia. Contact ForksToFeet to add your ideas and recipes.  Happy running!

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