Naturopathic Kitchen: Chia Seeds

Chia seeds and plant

Chia seeds are very small black or white seeds. They are native to Central America and come from the plant Salvia hispanica L. 1 Chia seeds have been valued for medicinal purposes since ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations, and these tiny powerhouses have been making a comeback in modern-day kitchens all over the world. 2 Read on to learn why adding chia seeds to your diet can benefit your health, and try a delightfully indulgent coconut cacao chia pudding recipe!

The Health Benefits of Chia Seeds

Support Heart Health

Chia seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fiber, both of which are linked to a decreased risk of heart disease. 3 4 More research is needed on chia seeds’ role in heart health, but some initial studies suggest that adding chia seeds to your diet may help to reduce blood pressure in those with hypertension. 5 6

Full of Antioxidants

Chia seeds are very high in antioxidants. 7 8 Chia seeds contain healthy fats, and their high antioxidant content is what preserves those fats and prevents them from going rancid. 9 Antioxidants have a wide range of benefits because they help prevent free-radical damage. 10 Free-radical damage can speed up the aging process and increase the risk of cancer and other diseases. 11

Improve Bone Health

Chia seeds may also improve the health of your bones. This is because they contain calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are essential to bone mineral density. 12 13 14 If you are actively trying to improve your bone health, adding more chia seeds to your diet may have a positive impact.

Note: If you are taking any blood-thinning medications, consult your physician before adding a significant amount of chia seeds to your diet.

Coconut Cacao Chia Pudding

This beautiful and delicious Coconut Cacao Chia Pudding is a little bowl full of heaven! This indulgent pudding not only tastes good, but is good for your body too.

Reprinted with permission of NUNM alumna Dr. Kara Fitzgerald.

Ingredients

  • 1 can unsweetened, regular organic coconut milk (not lite)
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp organic cacao powder (unsweetened)
  • ⅓ cup organic chia seeds
  • 1 6 oz container organic raspberries
  • 1 6 oz container organic blueberries or blackberries
  • 1 bar 85% Cacao for grating on top (optional)
  • Extra berries for top (optional)

Instructions

Divide the raspberries, blueberries and/or blackberries between six small bowls.

In a medium size bowl, mix the coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract and cacao powder until very smooth. Add the chia seeds and mix well.

Pour the liquid, approximately 1/3 of a cup, over the berries in each bowl.

Refrigerate 3+ hours, or overnight, until firm.

Optional: When ready to eat the pudding, you can place additional berries on top and grate a small amount of the 85% cacao bar over the mixtures.

 

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