Chia Seed: The New Superfood

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2013 at 8:23 pm

When you hear the word “chia”, do you immediately think of those crazy terra-cotta pets that sprout green hair? Well, chia has come a long way from pet to “Superfood”.  Chia seeds, like flax are considered to be a Superfood as they contain high amounts of many essential nutrients.

chia seedsGram for gram, chia contains six times more protein than kidney beans, twice the amount of dietary fiber as bran flakes, three times the amount of iron in spinach, twice the amount of potassium in bananas, and six times the amount of calcium in milk (Bourne, 2002). They also are a great source of Omega 3’s, more so than even salmon, and the ALA gets converted to Omega-3 EPA and DHA, which you can’t get from plant sources. Chia also has gel-forming properties that create a barrier between carbohydrates and digestive enzymes in the stomach. This is why chia slows down the conversion of carbs into sugar and can stabilize sugar blood levels.

So which seed should you eat, flax or chia? It’s not either/or; it’s both—each has benefits.  For example, One ounce of chia contains 4.4grams of protein, which is almost as high as meat– while flax clocks in at 5.1 grams per ounce.  However, chia seeds are considered a complete protein because they contain all the essential amino acids, while flaxseeds do not.

Chia seeds are an excellent source of antioxidants. In fact, it’s their high antioxidant content that keeps the seeds fresh for a long time, and prevents them from turning rancid. Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, on the other hand, lose their nutrients and go rancid relatively quickly when they’re not stored correctly, preferably in a dark, cool place, like the refrigerator or freezer.

In the mineral category it’s a mixed bag, with chia seeds winning in calcium and phosphorus, and flaxseeds in magnesium and potassium; flax has about five times the potassium as chia, clocking in at 228mg vs chia’s 45mg. The RDA for potassium is a whopping 4,700mg/day.  Most people do not get enough potassium in their diets, which can lead to high blood pressure, loss of bone density, increased risk of stroke or even cancer.

Chia seeds are higher in fiber with 10.6 grams vs. 7.6 grams in flaxseeds. Why is dietary fiber so important? Fiber is needed for bowel regularity, colon detoxification, and weight management, and to eliminate toxins and excess estrogens from the body.

But isn’t flax a phytoestrogen? When referring to phytoestrogens, it is generally thought that a “weak” estrogen may actually be protective against cancer causing xenoestrogens.  Flax is a great example.  The phytoestrogens contained in flaxseed bind to the estrogen receptor, but do not stimulate it; they compete with other estrogens that would otherwise stimulate the estrogen receptor, and thus act as a blocker–they hop on the estrogen and bind up these hormones and carcinogens and remove them from the body.  Plus, studies show that eating ground flax seed reduces tumor size and eaten daily may reduce ki67 levels; ki67 is a protein expressed in rapidly diving cells– high levels of Ki-67 indicate a more aggressive breast tumor and indicate a higher risk of recurrence. For more on flax: Demystifying Flaxseed and Estrogen.

So, don’t underestimate the nutritional value of seeds, especially flaxseeds and chia seeds. They’re nutritional powerhouses. Perhaps the easiest way to eat seeds is to add them to yogurt, cereal or smoothies; you can also use them in baked goods and even as an egg or fat replacer in baked goods and other dishes.  I happen to love them in cereal–mix in 2-3 tablespoons (~30 grams) along with 2-3 tablespoons of freshly ground flax and you have one heck of a start to your day.  One thing—most cereals are over-processed and full of sugar.  If you don’t like or have the time to make real oatmeal, give my “cereal” a try. (See recipe below). Regardless of how you do it, it seems that adding seeds to your diet will definitely bring a lot of healthy benefits.

“Elyn’s Cereal”

Fruit—1 cup blueberries or 1 RIPE banana, sliced (or whatever you have)

2Tbs whey protein (free of artificial hormones, pesticides and sugar, whey helps the body raise Glutathione levels)

2-3 Tbs chia seeds

2-3 Tbs freshly ground flaxseed (a spice grinder works great)

1 tsp cinnamon (helps to manage blood sugar)

1 Tbs black raspberry powder (optional)

1 Tbs pomegranate powder (optional)

1-2 Tbs Ezekiel cereal

½ tsp stevia or honey

One small handful walnuts

Milk of your choice (just nothing out of a box or can)

Mix well and enjoy in good health

Chia: Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Chia Seeds, 1 Pound Pouches

Flax: Bob’s Red Mill Golden Flaxseed, 24-Ounce Bags (Pack of 4)



~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~

Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor, professional cancer coach, radio talk show host, speaker, and the Executive Director for the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. She is also on the peer review board of the Natural Standard Database. Elyn empowers women to choose the path for treatment that best fits their own individual needs. She mentors women who are coping with issues of well-being associated with breast cancer and its aftermath; she is passionate about helping others move forward into a life of health and wellbeing. Elyn has been featured on CNN Money, Talk About Health and more and has contributed to Breast Cancer Answers as well as written for the Pink Paper, Breast Cancer Wellness, Natural Healing-Natural Wellness, Integrative Oncology Essentials, and other publications and newsletters. Elyn lives in New York with her husband and two young boys.

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Donate to the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation

  1. Thanks. Next time I buy groceries I’m gonna get what I need to make Elyn’s Cereal. Had not realized chia helps slow sugar spikes. But you say no milk from a box or can. Isn’t almond milk from box ok? That’s what I buy in place of cow milk.

    • Hi Rachel, almond, hemp and soy milks that come in cartons typically contain additives such as synthetic vitamins, emulsifiers, sweeteners, carrageenan and other not so desirable ingredients and may lack essential enzymes. Fresh in a carton beats a box, fresh is best…but for those of us lacking the time, look for these milks in the refrigerator section and look for ones with the least amount of added ingredients. For more info: https://elynjacobs.wordpress.com/2012/10/13/food-is-it-good-for-our-health-or-our-cancer/ –remember, we can only do what we can do; it’s becoming more and more difficult to eat healthy these days….

  2. I love chia seeds and often suggest them as a vegan source of Omega-3’s to those not wanting to supplement with fish oil. I love to just throw them into salads and shakes. Such a big BANG in such a little seed 🙂

  3. Thanks for stopping in TSS, I agree….tasty and full of health

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