for your health
COSTCO MEMBER ADAM Gilbert, head
weight-loss coach at MyBody Tutor.com, adds
chia seeds to egg white omelets for their
health benefits. He points out that they’re in-
credibly versatile: “You can put them on salads,
add them to protein shakes, sprinkle them onto
cereal or even mix them in yogurt.”Dietitian
Jennifer McDaniel likes to add about a tablespoon
of chia seeds to oatmeal, pancakes and even
peanut butter cookies. You can also substitute
chia seeds for eggs when baking, an easy way to
add fiber to your diet. Simply grind the chia seeds
in a food processor or coffee grinder. Replace
each egg with a tablespoon of finely ground
seeds and three tablespoons of water. Nutri-
tionist Kurtis Frank points out that you can
also substitute chia seeds for up to a quarter
of the oil used in baking without signifi-
cantly changing the flavor.—YG
Tiny chia seeds pack a big punch
By Yael Grauer
DID YOU KNOW that the tiny black specks
you sprinkle on the backs of Chia Pets are
actually edible seeds? Chia seeds are a nutritional powerhouse, with a tasty, nutty flavor—though eating terra-cotta pets is not
“These tiny little seeds that people used in
the past to just grow funny plants can give us a
pretty good boost in nutritional benefits if we
add them to our everyday diet,” said Jennifer
McDaniel, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The desert plant chia, or Salvia hispanica,
is botanically related to mint. This plant’s got
history. Aztec soldiers consumed chia as part
of their daily rations. Native American tribes
such as the Chumash and the Tarahumara
have long used it during distance running.
“They’d soak the seeds for a couple of
hours, and it’d turn into a gluey, gooey substance,” McDaniel says. Then they drank the
chia water, called chia fresca, for hydration.
The seeds are highly absorbent, retaining up
to 27 times their weight in water. This gelatinous concoction slowly releases its liquid,
hydrating those who consume it.
Many now believe that the black seeds
boost athletic power. “They give you a lot of
calories, they go down easy and they don’t
disturb your digestion at all, which is perfect
for running,” says nutritionist Kurtis Frank, a
researcher at Examine.com.
Unlike flaxseeds, their nutritional counterpart, chia seeds do not have to be ground into
meal (although they are often ground for certain recipes; see top right) or kept refrigerated;
they stay fresh a lot longer.
Nutritionally, chia seeds top the charts in
iron compared to flax, hemp, sunflower,
pumpkin and sesame seeds. A quarter cup of
chia seeds contains around 8 mg of iron.
Chia seeds also boast world-class fiber content: 10 grams in a quarter cup. When it
comes to calcium content, chia seeds (at 180
mg per quarter pound) come in second only
to sesame seeds.
Chia seeds are also rich in healthy omega- 3
fats and contain more alpha-linolenic acid
(ALA) than any other known plant. “ALA is
anti-inflammatory, helps support the cell membranes and may stop cholesterol from getting
too high,” Frank says. ALA also supports heart
health and lowers inflammation in the body.
Chia seeds have proven health benefits,
according to McDaniel: “Small studies showed
that people saw improvements in blood pressure, inflammation and blood sugar regulation
after 12 weeks of taking a little more than a
quarter cup of chia seeds per day. Their nutritional profile helps lower certain risk factors.”
The conclusion? Eating chia seeds can
provide a huge boost in your everyday nutrition. And you don’t ever have to scrape them
off the back of a terra-cotta statue. Those seeds
haven’t been approved by the Food and Drug
Administration as food. C
Yael Grauer is a freelance writer based in
The Costco Connection Costco members will find a variety of healthy seeds and grains, including chia, flax, quinoa and more, at their local Costco.
Chia seeds contain a variety of nutrients, including:
• Alpha-linolenic acid, a healthy omega- 3 fatty acid • Calcium, which strengthens bones and teeth • Fiber, which controls blood sugar level and maintains bowel health • Iron, which is responsible for carrying oxygen to muscles and organs • Magnesium, which supports a healthy immune system and maintains normal muscle function • Protein, which is crucial for cell repair—YG