Chia: Tiny Seed with a Powerful Health Punch (continued)
Adding chia to your diet
There are many ways to incorporate these healthy seeds into your diet. Chia seeds look like a cross between sesame and poppy seeds and have almost no flavor. When mixed with liquid, they turn into a gel that can be used in smoothies or mixed into casseroles and other dishes. To make chia gel, Gloria Hoover, author of Cooking With Chia (Geomantha, 2007), recommends mixing one ounce of chia seeds into eight ounces of water in a sealable plastic or glass container. Stir with a fork or wire whisk, let sit for a 10 minutes, then stir again. The gel can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
The seeds can also be toasted, which stops the gelling process, and can be used in baking or sprinkled on salads or yogurt. Hoover recommends toasting the seeds in a small skillet over high heat for two minutes. Store in an airtight container. Chia also is sold in oil form at health food stores, which can be used on salads or as a dietary supplement. Since it's high in omega-3 fatty acids, chia oil will oxidize when heated, so it should not be cooked or used in baking.
And, of course, chia can also be sprouted and eaten. Since it turns into a gel when mixed with liquid, it can only be sprouted on clay, such as a Chia Pet. However, Chia Pets are not FDA-approved as a food, so you might prefer to sprout seeds from the health food store. If you take insulin or any diabetes medication, talk to your doctor before taking any dietary supplement. If you get the ok, be sure to carefully test your blood sugar as you begin adding chia to your diet. It could affect your blood glucose levels and require an adjustment in your prescription.Check out these recipes using chia seeds!
Chia Breakfast Smoothie -- made with cereal, yogurt, and banana
Chia Quinoa Salad -- a tabouleh-like salad with green onions and lemon.
Salmon Cakes -- baked simply with an extra health punch.
Skillet Squash -- squash and cheddar cheese melty goodness!
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was updated 7/11, with additional reporting by Karen Berman.
Reviewed by Susan Weiner, R.D., M.S., C.D.E., C.D.N.10/08
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- Brouwer IA, Katan MB, Zock PL. 2004, Dietary alpha-linolenic acid is associated with reduced risk of fatal coronary heart disease, but increased prostate cancer risk: a meta-analysis. J Nutr. 134(4):919-22.
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- Hoover, Gloria. 2007. Cooking with Chia. Bonnie Lake/Buckley, Wash.: Geomantha.
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- Shane-McWhorter, Laura, e-mail message to author, Sept. 11, 2008.
- Shane-McWhorter, Laura. 2008. Dietary Supplements for Diabetes: The Intriguing Intricacies. Presented at the American Association for Diabetes Educators 35th Annual Meeting and Exhibition, Aug. 7, 2008 in Washington, DC.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/ (Accessed Sept. 16, 2008.)
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