Ch-Ch-Ch Chia for the Holidays

Giving a Chia Pet has been a long-standing holiday tradition, I can remember finding a chia pet under the tree when I was young girl. My siblings and I would watch with wonderment as the the seeds sprouted into green “fur” on the terracotta animal over the days that followed Christmas.  The Chia Pet is not only a fun and entertaining gift, it also has educational value.  Even kids who live in high rise buildings without so much as a patch of grass can experience nature with a Chia Pet, learning first-hand how seeds can be sprouted.

It is unfortunate that Joseph Enterprises, the makers of the Chia Pet did not seek FDA approval for human consumption of the chia seeds or sprouts – as chia is one of the most nutritious superfoods available.  So while the Chia Pet is fun present for the kids this holiday season, I recommend also eating chia seed this season.

Six Reasons to Take Chia Seeds this Holiday:

  1. Boosts Mood:  Holidays can be a joyful time, but they also have been known to be difficult for those that are missing loved ones, or stressed about finances, worried about work or family, or just overwhelmed by the growing to do lists.  Chia seeds are a rich (vegan) source of ALA Omega 3s.  Omega 3s are powerful mood food.  Taking chia seed and/or another type of omega 3 supplement (such as fish oil), can offer a boost to your mood.  The U.S. military is spending over $1M to study the use and effectiveness of omega 3s for the prevention and treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  2. Boosts Brain-Functioning:  Omega 3s are also proven brain food.  During the holidays, our “to do” lists are longer than ever, we are rushing from one thing to the next and trying to squeeze it all in, it is easy to get overwhelmed and even forgetful. Taking omega 3s daily can help to fire up the brain – including memory, attention, and focus.  Recently I ran out of chia seed and forgot to take my fish oils for about 3 days.  I noticed that my brain functioning was not optimal – I had a few extra “blonde” moments.
  3. Prevents Dehydration – Chia seeds are uniquely hydrophillic, which means they soak up a lot of water – up to 10-15 times their own weight!  It is important to take chia seeds with plenty

    whole dry chia seed.

    Hydrated chia seed (whole).

    of water/liquid, or they will soak up the water inside your body and could actually dehydrate you. But when taken with plenty of water, chia seeds are very hydratingChia seeds are an excellent hydration tools for athletes, but they also can be helpful if you are planning to do a couple “4 oz. curls.”  I always take a couple Tablespoons of chia seed with a full glass of water before heading off to a party.  If I have one or two cocktails, the chia seed will not only slow the absorption of sugar alcohols into the bloodstream, but it will help to prevent the dehydrating effects of the alcohol, which is one of the main causes of hangovers.  Read Prehydrate with Chia for more info.

  4. Helps Avoid Holiday Weight Gain- Eating and drinking and being merry is all a part of the holiday season.  But between the parties filled with holiday cocktails and appetizers, baking cookies, and gifts of candies and chocolates, the holidays can make our belts tighter.  Chia seeds’ unique fiber fills you up, to help prevent overindulging this time of year.  Taking some chia with plenty of liquid before a partyis a smart strategy so you don’t dive into the appetizer table.
  5. Boosts Endurance:  Chia seed is becoming more well-known among endurance athletes, thanks in large part to the book Born to Run, which says that “a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone.”  This time of year everyone can use a little extra energy to deal with the lines at the stores, post office, travel, and more.  Chia seed can boost our energy, endurance and recovery – naturally!  Unlike caffeine, chia seeds provide long lasting energy without making you jittery, or having the negative side effects of caffeine.

So how do you take chia seeds?   Chia seeds are tiny seeds – they can be added to water, smoothies, included in baked goods, and sprinkled on things like yogurt. You can buy them as whole seeds, or ground.  When buying the ground seeds make sure to look for cold water processed – it preserves more of the nutrients.  Do not buy the kind that has some of the oils or fats removed – chia oil is a healthy omega 3 fatty acid!!   You can add the ground chia seed to baked goods, pancakes, muffins, oatmeal, and the like.  You can add the ground or whole seed to smoothies, just a plain glass of water, or stir it into some yogurt.  You can even find it at your local Whole Foods or other health food store – in bottled beverages like Mamma Chia, and GT’s Kombucha Cherry with Chia.  Try this energizing smoothie made with chia seed.

Chia seeds are one of my favorite foods offering protein, minerals, fiber, and omega 3s.  Chia seeds provide a mood boost, enhance brain functioning, improve digestion, and can benefit all levels of athletic performance, especially hydration, endurance, and recovery. So enjoy the Chia Pet for it’s educational and entertainment value, and go buy some chia seeds for consumption – both can make your holiday season ch..ch..ch..cheery!

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Article written by Sara Vance, a Nutritionist in the Encinitas, CA area.

Sara offers nutritional counseling, School Assemblies, kids healthy cooking classes, and more. Sara works with each client to develop an all-natural foods and supplement based approach to optimal health.  Visit ReBalanceLife.com for more information.  Friend Sara Vance at ReBalance Life on Facebook.

©2011, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.